Interview with Sergey Troshkov, Cursor Oy coordinator of cross-border cooperation projects, Startup Connect Business Club Board member

The Kotka Hamina Region Development Agency Cursor Oy (Finland) announced the launch of the Russian-Finnish Startup Connect Business Club (link to the news). Sergey Troshkov, coordinator of cross-border cooperation projects, talks about who the Business Club was created for and how it will work.

Why did you decide to organize the Business Club?

We have been successfully developing Russian-Finnish business relations for a long time, including in the area of​​supporting venture capital investments and startups. Startup Connect Business Club is a logical response to the growing need for communication, exchange of experience, obtaining relevant and verified information from business owners and entrepreneurs both in Russia and in Finland.

We believe that the goal and mission of the Startup Connect business club is activation and increase of the success rate of venture investments through the combination of capital, technology and competencies from Russia, Finland and the EU. We are confident that our activities will help many innovative companies to get investments and access the global markets.

Russia and Finland are close not only geographically and climatically, but also in many respects from the point of view of business mentality and challenges facing our countries. Combining Russia’s vast market and scientific potential with Finland’s innovation system that is one of the most developed in the world, including the possibility of commercializing innovations in Europe, can provide strong competitive advantages.

At the first stage, the Startup Connect business club will create a funnel of startup projects for its members with jurisdiction (existing or prospective) in Finland. Here, technological entrepreneurship and its development is supported at the state level. In addition, an active investment community was formed, which brought Finland to first place in Europe in terms of the ratio of venture capital investments to GDP. In the future, we plan to help our international participants make venture investments in Russia or bring portfolio projects to the Russian market.

Who do you want to see as part of the Business Club?

The members of the Business Club are, first of all, Russian and international business angels, representatives of venture capital funds and business owners making or planning investments in innovative and technological companies in Russia or Finland. We will also be glad to communicate and cooperate with both business accelerators and corporations that introduce innovations in their processes. The more diverse the composition of the participants by geography and profile, the more interesting and useful communication will be in different formats organized by our Business Club. We plan to promote the formation of a network of useful professional contacts – professional and reliable suppliers of business services for consulting, accounting, legal processing of transactions and projects. Recommendations and a guarantee of the quality of services for business are always very important and in demand on both sides of the border.

Of course, we will work with technology entrepreneurs and form a funnel of potential startup projects. These should be companies that have the capacity for international expansion and at the same time have a solution that can be applied to global markets. The ideal option, if the founders are ready to share knowledge and, in the future, consider themselves as investors, is to look for external solutions in the startup market, independently invest in them or integrate them as additional products within your business.

In the new reality, many companies are in crisis or transformation, which forces them to seek breakthrough solutions. Information, communication, exchange of best practices and a database of technological projects provided by our business club will be especially relevant in the current period of turbulence in the global and national economies.

In 2020, entry and participation in the Club will be free. The club is organized as part of the cross-border cooperation program “Russia – Southeast Finland” 2014-2020. In the future, the Club members themselves will determine the format of work and the conditions for participation in it.

What benefits will get the members of the Business Club?

We are creating a platform where participants can communicate with each other online and offline, discuss projects and the possibility of joint investments, have access to a pool of service providers necessary for professional execution of investment transactions and international expansion. We will talk about successful deals, organize business and training events, conduct master classes and pitch sessions. Participants will be constantly in the relevant, useful and verified information field on investment opportunities and potential venture projects in Finland, the EU and Russia.

Another area is the search for opportunities for the implementation of pilot projects that have arisen as a result of the Club.

What result of the Club’s work you would consider successful?

The value of the Club is not so much in numbers, but in informal communication, motivation for cooperation, and insight that cannot be understated. It is important for us that the Club members are satisfied and stay with us for the further development of joint activities. We do not set specific results for transactions or pilot implementations. The success of the Business Club will be determined by the success of its members.

Could you share the first planned the activities of the Business Club?

Due to the current situation with the closure of borders, it is still difficult to identify a clear action plan for the near future. Information support and communication between participants in the online format will start in June. One of the first opportunities for members of the Club will be participation in the summer startup festival *Ship, www.shipfestival.org either online or offline. It is scheduled for August 13-14 in the city of Kotka. The Business Club will begin active work this autumn. We are planning a number of exciting and useful events involving interesting speakers and experts.

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