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CNBC

Amazon is delivering a boost to Finnish tech start-ups

Finland has an enormous workforce of engineers available as Microsoft and Nokia scale back their presence in the country

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 2:37pm

Amazon sent a buzz around Finland last week as it sought out tech stars and, in the process, boosted the country's start-up scene.

The US online giant last week hosted recruitment events in the Finnish tech hubs of Tampere, and Espoo – Nokia 's home town.

"Amazon's presence in Finland will…draw more global attention to here, and thus create more possibilities for start-ups…globally," Juuso Pesola, CEO of Internet of Things start-up The Button Corporation says. "I think it is only a positive thing," he added.

This is not the first time Amazon has recruited in Finland; it established an office in Espoo in late 2015 to support its cloud computing business.

Several of the tech experts CNBC contacted suggested that Finland's gaming innovation could be a key area of interest for Amazon, as well as its positive reputation for hardware development.

Marianne Vikkula, CEO of Slush, the biggest tech conference in Finland, was pleased at Amazon's increasing interest in the region's tech talent. She said, "I think everyone is…really happy about Amazon being interested in the region. It is just another addition indicating that there is 'something happening in the Nordics.'"

Finland has an enormous workforce of cloud, radio and software engineers, many of whom were involved Microsoft and Nokia's now declining presence in the country, which has involved massive job cuts.

Toni Nylund, CEO of start-up Vulpine Games, says that, "Amazon could provide training for a few years, helping people get their footing in the tech industry. These people might then try the start-up thing – the ecosystem here is great," thereby suggesting a different way in which Amazon could play a part in the country's tech scene.

But, could Amazon ultimately out price start-ups in harnessing the Finnish tech labour force – and therefore be bad for small business growth? Not so, according to Pesola, who explains that: "Money is not the key factor when choosing between (a) corporation or start-up. Start-up people love the atmosphere, freedom and possibilities to make a difference…I like to think that we do not even compete on the same talents."

Martin Garner, of analysis firm CCS Insight,says as Microsoft and Nokia scale back their presence in the country, Finland is "an interesting resource for larger tech players."

He added, "US companies are especially interested, since Finland is in the EU and potential employees speak excellent English. Finland may offer them an interesting alternative for a presence in the region, given the high uncertainty created by the UK's exit from Europe."

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