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Industry and innovation

The most important condition for the vitality of Helsinki is a well-functioning city. The bedrock of competitiveness is formed by high-quality services, cleanliness, accessibility, safety, liveliness, equality and other things that increase the quality of life of citizens. Every division and individual employee of the City of Helsinki influences the city’s vitality with their daily work. In Helsinki, SDGs 8 (Decent work and economic growth), 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) are well advanced in many respects. Helsinki’s economy and competitiveness are strong, and the city invests in research and development and business services in many ways.
SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

Service-intensive industrial structure

Helsinki utilises the opportunities and strengths of a well-functioning city in its long-term industrial policy. The city’s permanent task is to develop the business environment, promote the employment of Helsinki residents and enable sustainable and knowledge-based economic growth. The three priorities of industrial policy are defined as follows: internationally attractive Helsinki, a city of skilled labour and a platform for new and growing business.

The number of enterprises in Helsinki grew by 10.1% between 2013 and 2019. At the same time, the number of enterprises in the whole country grew by 2.8%. Between 2013 and 2019, the number of employees in companies increased by 14.9% in Helsinki and by 3.5% in the whole country.

In Helsinki, the industrial structure was highly service-intensive, as nearly 88.2% of Helsinki’s enterprises operated in the service sectors in 2019. Helsinki plays an important role in the business activities of both the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Finland as a whole. Helsinki is an important area of business activity that offers the opportunity to innovate, develop new things and make profitable and stable business.

COVID-19 has two kinds of effects

In the case of companies, COVID-19 has two kinds of effects. In those enterprises and industries most affected by the restrictions, turnover has fallen sharply compared to 2019. The decrease in turnover and sales has directly hit jobs and employment in the city.

In particular, restaurant and accommodation services, arts, entertainment and recreation as well as specialised shops have been severely affected by the restrictions. This has been reflected both in the slight increase in the number of bankruptcies opened and the small number of companies started. On the other hand, growth has been seen in many sectors, such as construction, grocery trade and information and communication, which have not been greatly affected by the restrictions.

Summary of the industrial structure of Helsinki and Finland as a whole in terms of number of enterprises, number of employees and turnover in 2019

Helsinki Number Number of personnel Revenue
Primary production 2.3% 0.1% 0.0%
Processing 9.5% 15.9% 39.9%
Services 88.2% 84.0% 60.1%
Entire country Number Number of personnel Revenue
Primary production 20.9% 3.5% 0.6%
Processing 17.7% 31.7% 41.9%
Services 61.4% 64.8% 57.5%

Source: Statistics Finland, Structural business and financial statement statistics

Smart city development and innovative experiments

Helsinki has continued and expanded its experimental platform activities. Companies can now propose innovation cooperation to develop their own business through the new website. In addition, the city publishes various challenge and experiment competitions on the site, which are used to find the best solutions.

Innovations have been developed in areas such as intelligent transport, mobility of the elderly, air quality, energy efficiency and learning environments. The city’s divisions also employ innovation agents, whose task is to facilitate cooperation between companies and the city and to find new sustainable solutions to various challenges facing the city.

One of the key innovation development environments of the Smart City of Helsinki is located in Kalasatama, where business services have been developed and cooperation across the city’s divisions has been strengthened. Local residents have participated in the activities and actively started using the smart city solutions, and they have also felt that they can lead a more sustainable everyday life in this area than in their previous places of residence.

In the next phase, which has already started, the activities will be extended to other city districts. A new theme for smart city development is the digitalisation of the natural environment and new solutions for green infrastructure, which also involve interesting opportunities for new business.

Green growth and a circular economy cluster programme

The city wants to promote green growth business so that the post-pandemic recovery can take place in accordance with sustainable development. Helsinki is launching a new circular economy cluster programme, which aims to create business in line with circular economy, especially in construction.

As part of the post-pandemic recovery, new business incubator activities will also be established on the campuses of universities and universities of applied sciences, aiming to create more R&D&I- and student-oriented entrepreneurship and jobs. Sustainability and positive social impact are growing phenomena and drivers in Helsinki’s growth company ecosystem, especially among students and young people.


  • Successful and participatory Smart City piloting in Kalasatama and a decision to expand the activities.
  • Helsinki launches a circular economy cluster programme as part of a sustainable recovery.

Development targets

  • Innovative procurement and wider use of different procurement models have not been possible.

Links to related programmes, reports and websites