Growth, Entrepreneurship and Aalto / Henri Grundstén
subjects in the title are on my mind today. Our national economy needs growth,
companies and entrepreneurs need growth and it is mentioned in the recent government
programme as well. However, growth is not an easy task, especially when it
comes to business end of it – it takes know-how, creativity, good team and a
bit of good luck. The required funding will follow when these elements are in
order. Growth cannot be taught; neither can it be planned in detail, it occurs
when the circumstances are advantageous.
The topic of entrepreneurship has been on the Finnish agenda for a relatively long time. We were even pronounced ‘A decade of entrepreneurship’ at the end of last millennium. Finland-originated, international GEM Study has year after year provided evidence of Finns’ low entrepreneurial activity, which for its part has catalysed several initiatives and projects promoting entrepreneurship. Low entrepreneurial activity is, in my opinion, the sum of various factors. It is not down to the Finnish gene pool, but instead caused by the influences of the operational environment. The most significant environmental factors in this case are culture, attitudinal climate and social motives. Which is “cooler” for a highly-educated and ambitious young person: entrepreneurial career, or a career in a big international corporation? What if your company fails? Are you then experienced and learned, or societal outcast?
There are amazing things going on at the Aalto University these days. Young students from the most aspired study programmes have organised themselves into Aalto Entrepreneurship Society and got their hands dirty in the Venture Garage with more and more ambitious start-up projects. Instead of rock stars and actors these students idolize Finnish entrepreneurs like Siilasmaa, Koponen, Paananen, Vesterbacka, and others. I am absolutely thrilled! I claim that the development at the Aalto University is the most significant thing in the field of entrepreneurship in Finland since World War II. The operational environment, culture and social motives have shifted to support and admire entrepreneurship, which have an immediate positive impact on entrepreneurial intentions and activity. And even more, this takes place among those individuals, who we first and foremost want to see as entrepreneurs. They are bright, educated and ambitious young people, who have all the qualifications for starting up and running new companies and create jobs. Let’s hope that this positive progress continues from here on as well.