A new community space for hundreds of growth companies opening on the Aalto campus
The Otaniemi innovation hub will get a new flagship, as A Grid, one of Europe's largest centres for growth companies opens later this year.
The community space called A Grid to be opened in the former School of Electrical Engineering facilities will gather operators such as growth companies, creative businesses, accelerators and company services under the same roof. It will be a creative community for ambitious start-ups, other companies and entrepreneurs: after the renovation is finished, the building will hold facilities for up to hundreds of operators.
Illustration of the spaces of A Grid.
‘The Otaniemi campus is shaping out to be a unique cooperation hub where researchers, companies and students are creating new ways of working together. A Grid is a meeting place that functions as a link to the university's technology, competence base and community including students’, tells Vice President of Research and Innovation Tuija Pulkkinen from Aalto University. ‘The recently published international university evaluation listed 55 innovative universities that think outside the box on company and societal collaboration; Aalto was the only Finnish university to be included. We are opening A Grid to support this development.’
Aalto is currently developing ways to flexibly provide the university’s vast research infrastructure and technology and the related competence for the use of companies. ‘The possibility to use resources such as our prototype workshops or expertise on industrial internet is especially important for small companies that could not otherwise have access to something like it’, states Pulkkinen.
Aalto University’s own business accelerator Aalto Start-Up Center has a key role in the operation of A Grid. Other well-known future partners include for example Reaktor Space Lab, the European Space Agency ESA and event agency Tapaus. A Grid will not only contain office spaces, but also spaces for collaboration, events and workshops as well as support services ranging from restaurants and cafés to financial and legal services.
Otaniemi is a very sought-after location among companies. The new facilities measuring up to 20 000 square meters in their initial stage answer the demand, and there are plans to expand operation across campus.
‘There is a unique enthusiasm and energy in the Otaniemi entrepreneurship community. For example many start-ups want to set up their offices here after taking the Startup Sauna accelerator programme. In addition, the university's research groups and student projects also generate business activity, which we can now serve in a new way’, states Director of Real Estate Investments Eetu Ristaniemi from Aalto University’s property company Aalto University CRE. ‘The research conducted in the School of Electrical Engineering facilities had a significant role for example in the rise of Nokia. Now, the same spaces can be the platform for new success stories.’