Helsinki Think Company celebrates decade of support for academic entrepreneurship
Think Company was founded in 2013 as a joint project of the University of Helsinki and the City of Helsinki. The goal was to create an inspiring community that would act as a meeting place between academia and the business world, enabling interdisciplinary cooperation and encouraging students to learn entrepreneurial skills through low-threshold activities.
The first Think Company co-working space was opened on Helsinki’s Vuorikatu street in the city centre, but since this time, the organisation’s co-working spaces have expanded to the Viikki, Meilahti and Kumpula university campuses.
“It has been a pleasure to follow Helsinki Think Company’s growth. I remember when the first location was opened, there was a queue of students and researchers who were curious about entrepreneurship lined up at the door. Since then, activities related to entrepreneurship and innovation have developed considerably at the University of Helsinki, and we at the city want to be involved in strengthening this development,” said Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Economic Development Director at the City of Helsinki.
The past ten years at Think Company have included entrepreneurship programmes, innovative solutions and the examination of various social challenges. What started as an idea at the conceptual level has grown over the years into a warm community where all individuals and ideas are welcome.
Think Company has spawned more than 100 companies in different disciplines
At the heart of Helsinki Think Company's activities has been the desire to encourage students to take the path of entrepreneurship. Hundreds of low-threshold events have been organized on the campuses, where students have perhaps had their first glimpse of the practical use of academic knowledge. In the workshops, entrepreneurship has been made more approachable by learning the skills involved with starting a company and honing initial business ideas, so they are better prepared for practical implementation.
Over the years, Think Company activities have spawned more than 100 companies representing different disciplines, with services and products that range from calculating the carbon footprint to vegan ice cream.
Entrepreneurship programmes tackling social challenges are core of operations
Entrepreneurship programmes have been at the heart of Think Company's activities since its inception. The aim of these programmes is not only to create practical solutions to real-life challenges, but also to bring people from different fields together, encourage them to discover their own strengths and try out the tools of entrepreneurship. The programmes also help those with a business idea to spread their wings and move forward with their idea.
The themes of the entrepreneurship programmes have been both topical and diverse. Among other things, participants have discussed Baltic Sea improvement, the circular economy, mental health services and young people’s marginalization.
Over the years, the interdisciplinary group of participants has also come up with solutions to difficult social problems in dozens of solution competitions and challenges, in collaboration with companies, ministries and cities. As a result of this cooperation, solutions and business concepts have been created for preventing memory disorders, reducing hate speech, improving work well-being, and increasing equality in the gaming industry.
The City of Helsinki, as stated in the Helsinki City Strategy, also wants to be a strong actor in supporting the competitiveness of companies that seek to develop business solutions to global problems. We also want to help business activities in Helsinki to grow, renew and diversify. To these ends, we make it a key priority to develop the city's business-friendly attitude and enhance the overall appeal of entrepreneurship. Communities like Think Company play an important role in this work.
Ten-year journey celebrated on 5 October
Think Company's autumn celebrations begin on 5 October with the Miten Maailmaa Muutetaan (“How to Change the World”) event, organized at the University of Helsinki's Think Corner. The event will feature a representative group of professionals and trendsetters from various fields on the Think Corner Stage, including Finland’s former president Tarja Halonen, author and social media influencer Mona Bling, and journalist Ina Mikkola. They remind us that at the heart of everything is human-sized agency: everyone can change the world in their own way. Achieving concrete change has been at the core of Think Company's operations throughout its 10-year journey.