The learning trip to Finland was a classic example of work hard and party harder. The cohort of IMBA 2020 not only fell in love with this small country, having its map in the form of a rabbit, but also with its people, culture and all the innovations it has to offer to the world.
The tour started at the north western city of Oulu, a city of 250,000 amazing people. The technological advancements happening in this tiny city are big and disruptive. Various small and big enterprises involved in innovations in various fields have sprung up all around the city. Few exemplary examples are PrintoCent in technology, Paras Biopharmaceuticals in biotechnology. Further the small size of the city has made it possible for the residents to form a closely knit community with organizations like #Business Oulu, Kielo Growth Incubator at Oulu Business School, encouraging and facilitating startups and SMEs to grow in the region. Along with growth in business and technology the third fundamental principle that Oulu follows is its emphasis on CSR as it is a host to Wind Controller, a company involved in renewable energy production using wind turbines. The focus on health, safety and environment is deeply embedded in the cultural and educational system of the city as evident by the unique but challenging waste management system offered by Kiertokaari. Since there is no facility to collect the garbage at the source, residents come to the waste collection site and sort out their waste. With all this useful knowledge about the entire ecosystem of Oulu, we were headed to or next destination, Helsinki.
Upon our arrival in Helsinki, we were all taken aback by the dry landscape of the city. In the month of February when Helsinki should be dipped with snow, it showed no signs of snow. This was self-evident that climate change is for real with huge impacts. Hence, what better way than to start our learning journey with presentations from start-ups which are all working for sustainability and achievement of circular economy. There were presentations from Lovia, a fashion company determined to turn trash into treasure and Infinited Fiber, another company producing fibres sustainably. When in Helsinki we could not have missed visiting Nokia and Rovio- creators of Angry Birds. The visits to both these business sharks in networks solutions and gaming industry respectively are proof enough that Finland is one of the world leaders of pioneering technologies. The last day visit to Maria 01, the largest start-up hub in the Nordics, was a reminder that entire Finland is open to new ideas and welcomes the fresh perspective challenging the convention.
Another reason why this trip holds a special place in all our hearts is the fact that amidst such a tight schedule we effortlessly managed to indulge in some fun experiences native to Finland - a visit to the Oulu Art Gallery, snow activities at the vast , snowy landscape of Koiteli, sumptuous dinners at Ravintola Nallikari & Löyly Restaurant, city tours in Oulu & Helsinki. Not to forget the relaxing traditional saunas (Fun Fact - there are two million saunas in Finland, for a population of 5.3 million). Finally everything was followed by a wrap up party in the famous Maxine club of Helsinki. All these events gave us a chance to break free from the monotony of our daily lives and reinvigorate our spirits while discovering new friendships and making stronger bonds with the existing ones.
Finland tops the list of countries which are continually investing in and boosting clean tech, green technologies and sustainability causes and our trip to this beautiful country of 5.5 million people saw all the reasons behind its success. All this would not have been possible without the efforts of our professors Hans Schlierer, Rhoda Davidson and the organizers, who made this trip a smooth and exciting experience for all of us.