Maria 01 is the Nordic's leading startup hub located in Helsinki, Finland. The history behind the building is quite interesting: The tech-startup campus' location in the center of Helsinki used to be the old Maria Hospital, one of the oldest hospital campuses in the Finnish capital.
Maria 01 is a non-profit campus partially owned by the same owners of Slush, the world's leading startup conference with a focus on facilitating meetings between startup founders and investors such as venture capitalists (VCs). The startup campus has begun the third and most ambitious phase of expansion of its already impressive campus which is set to become Europe’s largest startup and venture hub.
The Finnish startups are on top of European investment charts. In 2018, the Finnish Business Angels (FiBAN), one of the biggest and most active business angel networks in the world, invested 36 million euros into 435 startups. FiBANs members have shared both capital and an invaluable amount of their time and knowledge with startups, as Amel Gaily, Managing Director at FiBAN explained during a press conference at Maria 01 during a Slush side event in Helsinki.
70,000 square meters for awesome startup innovation and visionary VCs
The campus will expand from its current 20,000 square meter space to an even more impressive 70,000 square meter campus by 2023. If you are not sure how big that really is, it is about as big as Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch in London, which is about 77,000 square meters of total floor space, according to the British government. And 77,000 square meters is about one-and-a-half times as big as a Polo field and about nine-tenths as big as the Alcatraz island where the famous U.S. federal prison is. Or you can compare with Helsinki itself, which land area has 213,8 million square meters. Thus, we can certainly say that when completed, the Maria 01 campus will be a mini-city within the city.
The new wing of the former Maria Hospital was opened in October this year completing the first 20,000 square meters of the startup hub. The Maria 01 campus expects to attract approximately 650 new startups and create new jobs for at least 4,000 people. The expansion is led by YIT, Keva, and the City of Helsinki. Maria 01 currently houses over 120 startups and scale-ups, 12 venture capital funds, several ecosystem supporters, and over 1,100 members. The campus’ VCs include Play Ventures and Inventure with €1.8 billion in combined assets under management and over 120 startups in their portfolios.
Today, “the campus aims to be a space for growth companies, investors, VCs, and corporations. Spacewise, there will be coworking areas, private office spaces, and indoor and outdoor yard areas. About the services, the idea is that through this we involve people from outside the startup ecosystem to be part of it. Services that we will see in the campus are: Innovation lab, modular startup spaces, coworking areas, food square, event areas, different stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, in addition to a hotel area,” Kimberly Oguilve, CMO at Maria 01 told us. And, it looks like it will all come complete with delivery drones flying over the campus, according to the campus concept designed by AOR Architects.
Voitto Kangas, Maria 01's former CEO, started to build the campus from the ground up since 2016. Now, Ville Simola, Maria 01's current CEO, has taken up the challenge to scale the project up to become no less than the largest startup and venture campus in Europe.
"Many of the startups have had to embark on a different location after staying here for one to three years as their teams have grown and we have not been able to provide them with larger facilities. Almost all of them would have loved to stay longer. Our new campus makes it possible for these companies to stick around Maria 01 for longer," says Ville Simola.
Every November, venture capitalists from Europe and Silicon Valley come to Helsinki to meet with startup founders and discover new startups at Slush. The tech conference is, indeed, unlike any other; and, in order to maximize the two or three days in Helsinki, having a place to network with other investors as well as meeting startups in-situ is a great advantage.
“If a big-time foreign investor wishing to check out the best Helsinki-based startups and meet up with the investors during a single day lands in Helsinki-Vantaa airport, where would they head to? We want that place to be Maria 01," says Ville Simola.
Present and future of the largest startup campus in Europe
Indeed, Maria 01 is growing fast. "In 2018, Maria 01 was home for over 105 startups and Maria 01’s members raised 92 million euros in funding. The complex reached 12,100 square meters last year. We have now over 1,100 members and 120 startups. The current campus is only 20,000 square meters and the new extension will bring 50,000 square meters more. The new extension is the side that will include the hotel," says Kimberly Oguilve.
Maria 01 is the place where the next generation of technology innovators and teams meet and work side by side with venture capitalists. It is a place also for established companies and all the extended startup and venture ecosystem, a place to help each other succeed in the competitive startup environment toward building a future together. And it all happens in Maria 01, the micro-city within the heart of Helsinki.