The new Finnish Startup Permit attracted interest particularly from technology professionals during its first year
A year ago, Business Finland and the Finnish Immigration Service established a new application process for start-up entrepreneurs coming to Finland from outside the European Union. During the first year of operation, Business Finland received more than a hundred requests for an eligibility statement. A positive statement was given on 34 of them, and the Finnish Immigration Service has granted 23 Finnish Startup Permits.
The Finnish Startup Permit has attracted interest especially from technology professionals. The permit is meant for applicants from outside the EU who plan to establish a start-up company in Finland. For EU citizens, the process is simple because establishing a start-up in Finland does not require a residence permit, only a registration.
"A prerequisite for granting a Finnish Startup Permit is that the applicant has obtained a positive eligibility statement from Business Finland. Business Finland is responsible for assessing the company’s business plan and whether the company’s expertise and resources show potential for international growth and business activities," explains Senior Advisor Annamari Soikkeli from Business Finland.
After a positive statement has been obtained, the Finnish Immigration Service will decide the residence permit application.
"The applicants are typically highly educated professionals in their field," says Anna Hyppönen, Head of Section at the Finnish Immigration Service.
Interest from all over the world
According to Soikkeli, the advantages of choosing Finland as the location for a start-up company include the country’s strong start-up ecosystem, excellent private and public funding opportunities as well as the wide range of services offered for start-ups. On a more personal level, the advantages include the good quality of life that Finland can offer entrepreneurs and their families.
Applications have been coming in from all over the world, the top three countries being Russia (37), China (10) and Iran (9). Among the applicants are both self-employed entrepreneurs who do not yet fulfil the requirements for a positive eligibility statement and teams with more extensive business experience and advanced business plans.
"More than half of the business ideas presented in the applications involve digital services or software. Such companies are easier to launch and scale up, and they do not necessarily require any large investments," Soikkeli explains.
Applications have also been coming from international researchers living in Finland who want to build a business to commercialise an idea that has emerged from their research.
International start-up companies established in Finland can also apply for funding from Business Finland amounting up to EUR 50,000 for developing their business. The criteria for assessing innovativeness and international growth potential are the same as for any new businesses established by Finnish entrepreneurs.
Today, countries are competing fiercely against each other to attract international talent and start-up entrepreneurs. Special residence permits and sets of services and funding options for start-up entrepreneurs have been introduced in many other countries as well.
In coming years, the aim of the actors involved is to increase awareness of the Finnish Startup Permit and to attract even more applicants. Instructions for applying for this residence permit can be found on the website of the Finnish Immigration Service. Business Finland has recently launched a collection of services called the Startup Kit and is cooperating with several partners, including Slush.
Facts: Start-up entrepreneurs coming to Finland can apply for a special permit
- The Finnish Startup Permit is meant for international professionals from outside the EU wishing to establish a business in Finland and aiming for international growth.
- The permit is based on a 2018 amendment to the Aliens Act (121/2018, sections 47 g and 47 h).
- The purpose of the permit is to facilitate immigration and entrepreneurship for international professionals.
- The Finnish Immigration Service grants the residence permit. Before applying, the company’s business plan needs to be evaluated by Business Finland.
- The permit is generally granted for two years. If the applicant continues to work as a start-up entrepreneur, an extended permit can be applied for on the same grounds.
- After a company has been established, the company can apply for funding from both Business Finland and private investors in Finland.