Aalto University: Research innovations become growth companies at Aalto Startup Center

Aalto Startup Center is a unique business accelerator in Finland, as it provides a growth platform especially for innovation projects originating from research conducted at Aalto University. Janne Laine, Vice President of Innovation at Aalto University, considers the role of the business accelerator to be significant in generating startups that originate from research.

‘At Aalto University, we have created a unique service network that enables us to support researchers from the idea to early stage startups. Even internationally, the network is unique and has been trademarked under the name “From Ideas to Impact,’ says Laine.

Aalto Startup Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Over the years, it has been the launching pad for many successful companies in the world from small companies to large growth companies. A total of more than 600 alumni companies employ approximately 3,200 people. Aalto Startup Center has given a home to hundreds of growth companies, and in 2019 it was selected among the world’s top five business accelerators operating at universities at the World Incubation Summit 2019 organised by UBI Global.

‘Entrepreneurship is an effective way to apply research results for the benefit of society. The total annual turnover of alumni before the coronavirus pandemic was more than half a billion euros,’ says Laine.

The average size of Aalto Startup Center alumni companies has increased significantly in terms of turnover over the years.

Concrete support for commercialisation and growth from the business accelerator
One of the starting points of research at Aalto University is HyOnGlobe, which develops revolutionary material technology innovation at the Aalto Startup Center. Harri Ruuska, one of the founders of HyOnGlobal, explains that the innovation meets the global need for stronger and lighter structures.

‘This is a new way of combining composite and metal. It can be used to build almost anything – from cell phone cases to space rockets. However, we have focused on building hydrogen fuel cells, as there is a concrete need for them in the market,’ says Ruuska.

He first worked as a team advisor and then as a commercializer of innovation. Ruuska’s career as a startup entrepreneur is only just beginning, but he has already found the Aalto University service network useful.

‘The journey from research to commercial products is long, so such work is of enormous importance for the future of Finland. Research and science lay the foundation for a developing economy,’ says Ruuska.

He says that he has received concrete help from the Aalto Startup Center for refining sales pitches and patent management, among other things. He also praises the business accelerator for help in understanding what needs to be done in practice to set up a business.

‘In addition, the support we received and the encouraging atmosphere have been very important to us. Without the Aalto Startup Center, HyOnGlobe would not exist,’ says Ruuska.

Startups and research innovation projects on display at Arctic15 – welcome!
Aalto Startup Center is involved in the Arctic15 event at the Cable Factory in Helsinki on 7-8 June 2022. Come visit Aalto Startup Center and the startups of the business incubators Urban Tech Helsinki and ESA BIC Finland operating under the Center. In addition, our department has a few research innovation projects on display, which will grow into startups in the near future. Our fair department numbers are 1-6. Welcome to learn more about our 25-year journey and to hear about Aalto Startup Center’s unique beginnings.


From Ideas to Impact. Aalto Startup Center is a business accelerator for startup companies that are less than three years old, with a particular focus on the field of technology. The accelerator utilises the interdisciplinary competence offered by Aalto University in design, business and technology as well as the expertise and networks of the university.

Currently, there are about 40 companies at Aalto Startup Center, 10 of which operate under ESA BIC Finland, which specialises in space technology. In addition, approximately 20 early-stage companies are selected annually for the Urban Tech Helsinki incubator, which works in cooperation with the City of Helsinki. Aalto Startup Center’s premises are located in Otaniemi, Espoo.

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