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August 28, 2014

10 things Silicon Valley can learn from Finland’s tech scene

CBR spoke to Finland's key tech players and found out why they think Finland has it better.

By Ben Sullivan

Finland has an astonishing tech scene. As the home of Nokia, the country has built upon its tech successes to reach the stage where it is now supplying the world’s best-selling mobile games, creating lynchpin operating systems such as Linux, and forging ahead with the future of computing in the curriculum.

After a quick visit to the country’s capital a few months ago, CBR decided to ask some key players in Finland’s tech empire what exactly they think tech giants such as Silicon Valley can learn from the country of just 5 million inhabitants.


Ville Valtonen – Reaktor

Open community.

"In Finland, people aren’t too jealous over best practices or latest tech experiments. Information is shared freely. When the ecosystems wins, everybody wins."

Long and dark winters.

"What else can do you than code?"

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"Everybody gets the same education. For free."

There’s life outside the ecosystem.

"Finland is such a small country, the startups have to focus on being global from day one – the Finnish market is too small."

No bullshit and low hierarchy.

"Best companies and startups work with small and autonomous teams that don’t need to get every decision signed off by a foreman. People can really direct their own work and this leads to amazing results. This works even in larger companies like Reaktor, with over 300 people."

Work/life balance.

"People know that a 100 hour work week isn’t sustainable. Better give 110% for 8 hours and then get back to friends and family. People are more inspired and motivated."

Open community.

"In Finland people aren’t too jealous over best practices or latest tech experiments. Information is shared freely through f.e. regular meet ups. When the ecosystems wins, everybody wins."


Linda Liukas – Author of Hellp Ruby and co-founder of Rails Girls

OS software, way out of proportion to our size.

"Our love with technology runs deep. Our social democratic societies in Scandinavia have produced a huge amount of the open source software that now builds the backbone of Internet: MySQL, IRC, Linux, Git and SSH were all born here in Finland, Denmark has Ruby on Rails, Greenland PHP, and so on. When you look at the popular tech stacks of companies that rack in billions of dollars, it’s often the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – with Git as version control). 75% coming from Scandinavia. Our safe, stable and meritocratic societies are a great place to build something for the greater good, without having to fear someone will take advantage of you."



Mikael Kolehmainen – Entrepreneur


"I think it is much cheaper to develop a minimum viable product even for an enterprise product here than it is in Silicon Valley. A lot of world class engineering talent is available."


"The Tekes programs that assist start-ups with grants and loans are something truly amazing and at least I have not seen anything like it elsewhere (grants exist elsewhere of course, but not in the amounts available in Finland)."




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