Silicon Vallila – a global contender in the field of health technology
What is Helsinki’s answer to Silicon Valley? Silicon Vallila, of course. Vallila is a business district in Helsinki with a health technology sector campus for growth companies, the Health Innovation Village, right at its centre.
“Our idea was to create a world-class, health technology centre where a range of operators in the sector can work in the same premises: research outfits, large and medium-sized enterprises, investors and startups,” says Mikko Kauppinen, project manager at the Health Innovation Village.
Kauppinen believes that Silicon Vallila and Finland have world-class health-sector expertise in areas such as mobile technology, cloud services, software, big data, and the production of wearable technology. In addition, they have a source of capital based on Finland’s wellbeing society: trust between people.
“Genuine innovation is enabled here by the fact that you don’t need a lawyer when sharing ideas,” says Mikko Kauppinen.
Straight talking about health innovations
The campus was opened at the same time as General Electric Finland’s head office in the summer of 2014, when the US company’s health technology unit, GE Healthcare, embarked on the much more ambitious development of the sector in Finland.
GE had already centralised its digital health innovation research in Helsinki – the industry has long traditions and plenty of expertise in Finland. After all, the pioneer companies Polar and Suunto introduced wearable health technology to the world from their bases in Finland.
A total of 800 GE employees now work in the building, engaged in tasks such as the design of digital patient monitoring systems.
“These are intended for patient monitoring in challenging conditions on intensive care and surgery wards,” Kauppinen explains.
Community-based co-working spaces have been created under the same roof for 200 employees from external companies in the sector. Such companies are developing innovations that boost healthcare in areas such as wireless technology, sensors and web applications.
StartUp Health, one of the world’s biggest health sector incubators, also operates on the campus. StartUp Health’s three year programmes provide growth companies with coaching from experts in various fields and the chance to meet with investors.
“Here, various actors can develop partnership models, negotiate on issues such as product combinations and share advice. Because Finns are not terribly good at small talk, we created a space where we can cut to the chase and engage in ‘big talk,” explains Kauppinen.
Text and picture: Venla Pystynen
Tuomas Kytömaa chose Mikko Kauppinen as a maker of the Helsinki of the future.