Running a startup hub in Europe is by no means an easy job, especially since new startups keep surfacing almost every other day in the region. However, the Helsinki-based startup campus Maria 01, owned in part by the same owners as the Nordic’s biggest startup conference Slush, aims to take things to the next level.
Recently, the tech campus has made an announcement of a new CEO, along with some ambitious expansion plans. Ville Simola is the new CEO of Maria 01 and he has set his sights on making the startup hub the biggest one in Europe, following the company’s expansion. Here are five ways the company is planning to do this.
New CEO, refreshed aspirations
As mentioned above, Ville Simola is the new CEO of Maria 01 who has some big plans for the startup hub. The first order of business is to expand the hub from its current campus so that it can accommodate more startups, investors, corporates and ecosystem supporters. Simola also co-founded and helped grow the internationally recognised startup accelerator Startup Sauna, before venturing into the corporate world.
“I’m excited to take up the reins of this ambitious project which is sure to change the Finnish startup scene today as we know it. I see a lot of challenges in the expansion but I’m no stranger to ecosystem building after my work with Startup Sauna,” says the new CEO of Maria 01, Ville Simola.
More space for more startups
The startups chosen by Maria 01 are scrutinised with stringent criteria and are expected to move out after a period of 3 years to make room for other companies. The ex-hospital turned startup hub is now set to expand its campus from 10,000 sq m space to 70,000 sq m by 2023. This move is expected to not only attract about 650 new operators but also generate at least 4,000 new jobs.
Simola says, “The Nordics are now challenging the established large European hubs and Finnish startups are sprouting faster than ever. Currently, only 16% of the startups who apply to work at Maria 01 are accepted so the new, larger space will help us to meet the increasing demand for our curated community while bringing new jobs to the area meaning huge benefits for the community, startups, city, and economy.”
Maria 01’s expansion will be a stepwise process. Ahead of the 50,000 sq m expansion that is set to be completed by 2023, the company will first open up a new wing of the former hospital in October 2019 under a previous agreement. This will result in doubling the space to 20,000 sq m. The expansion consortium will be led by YIT and Keva, along with the City of Helsinki.
Currently home to 120 startups and 12 VC funds
Expansion is the next big step for the growth of Maria 01 and alongside more startups, the startup hub is also expecting to gain more venture capital funds. Currently, the hub hosts over 120 startups and scale-ups, along with 12 venture capital funds. Additionally, it has many ecosystem supporters, and over 1,100 members, all of which apparently contribute towards making it the biggest startup hub in the Nordics.
As per the company, its broad network, favourable conditions for innovation, and immediate location next to capital offer enable startups to grow and expand. As mentioned, there are 120 startups that the company currently hosts but by the end of 2019, 30 more startups are expected to join the startup hub, taking the total number to 150. Some startups that are a part of Maria 01 currently are VOI Technology, Bolt, Kodit.io, Brella, ultimate.ai and Bitbar.
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