I see some similarities between Helsinki and Seattle with regards to where they stand in both the tech and venture financing sectors. Both are somewhat overlooked because of their locales. Seattle is considered too far from the center of activity in the Bay Area, Helsinki too distant from London, Frankfurt and wherever else Europe’s entrepreneurial and venture capital center sits. Both cities, occasionally, are seen as having too few new ideas and funding. Each has had promising companies/products snapped up by bigger players in bigger markets before they could establish themselves. Both have local governments that do not necessarily provide a supportive business climate for startups. Besides location, the weather in each city is not conducive to the successful recruiting of outsiders.
However, each city has clearly managed to develop a reputation as a tech center, even if smaller than rival regions. Each has developed successful, world renowned companies/products in the tech space over the years. Both have excellent universities providing ideas and talent. Both have traditionally been strong in the telecom (McCaw and offshoots, Nokia) and software sectors (Microsoft, Linux).
We already have some tie-ins amongst institutions: the University of Washington, especially via its Scandinavian Studies Department and Foster School of Business, with the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, to name two; and of course, now the Nokia – Microsoft partnership. Where else can groups under the technology umbrella from each region come together to benefit one another? Perhaps venture capital or growth sector financing firms, incubators or start-up accelerators or even at the university level, tech transfer offices, might find some ideas worth pursuing with such interaction.
In short, the sectors in both cities succeeded in the past and should be able to carry that success forward into the future. Given the similarities, maybe there is room for additional collaboration down the road.