Aalto strengthens its entrepreneurial ecosystem in creative sectors with the lead of Mikael Huhtamäki
Mikael Huhtamäki has started in a new role in Aalto University as the project manager in the Boosting Creative Industries and Sectors on Campus (BCS) strategic development project. Mikael is an Aalto alumnus, graduated from department of industrial management, work psychology as his major. Currently he is working on his dissertation regarding international rock concert history in Finland in Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki. Mikael has extensive professional knowledge and experience from developing startup businesses on an international scale, and passionate interest in music.
The BCS project aims to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem for arts, culture, and creative sectors and industries on the Otaniemi campus. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Aalto is already a well-recognised success story and known to support aspiring entrepreneurs in various ways. However, the students from the arts and creative sectors are currently a minority there, and often lack similar kind of support in general. That is what Mikael is set out to change in the BCS project.
Strengthening creative sectors’ foothold in Aalto’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, increasing diversity within it, and further supporting people and companies in creative sectors would have immense benefits for all.
Ecosystem services for people and companies in creative sectors
For people who come from the arts and creative sectors, being part of an ecosystem would offer community that complements their expertise. “Working in multidisciplinary teams can balance the workload and leave more room for creative practices”, explains Mikael. “Upskilling and different supportive mechanisms can serve the same purpose.”
Cooperation and ecosystem development would give the actors in creative sectors access to knowledge they could leverage, regardless of the path they end up choosing, from basics of working as a freelancer and developing entrepreneurial skills to starting up a business and boosting their innovation capacities.
Even though the creative sectors are filled with entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship is often seen rather as a means of livelihood than the primary option. Instead of forcing everyone at Aalto through the same funnel, the target state now is to offer alternatives for people in these sectors and increase their skills and capacities for entrepreneurship.
“Further supporting and empowering actors within the creative sectors and professions would also have positive spill-over effects within the entire ecosystem, such as boosting creativity and innovation in other sectors too”, Mikael states.
Increased diversity enhances creativity in entire ecosystem
This project offers an opportunity to increase the diversity and creative innovation capacity of the entire Aalto ecosystem, and to stage Otaniemi as the most multidisciplinary creative hub in Europe.
“Vital innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem will also attract new actors from creative sectors to set their foot in Otaniemi, offering novel co-creation opportunities for these actors with students and researchers in Aalto”, emphasises Janne Laine, Vice President for Innovation at Aalto University.
“Actively supporting creative sectors on the campus will have an important effect to the whole Otaniemi community. More than 20 percent of ARTS graduates set up their own enterprises after graduation, but seldom stay in the Aalto ecosystem. Attracting them to stay on campus will have a broader positive impact too”, continues Tuomas Auvinen, Dean of School of Arts, Design and Architecture and Champion of Radical Creativity. “Ideally it could spark new thinking, encourage experimentation, creative approaches and novel perspectives across disciplines, and boost cross-sectoral innovations.”
Developing collaboration within the ecosystem requires people and connections
At present, Mikael is mapping the current ecosystem. He aims to tie the existing pieces together: connect different actors, bridge supportive mechanisms, and raise awareness of them, so that no one would fall off the loop.
His mapping mission also reaches outside of Aalto University. Mikael aims to build an overview of what is currently going on both in and nearby Aalto considering creative sectors, entrepreneurship, corporate relations, and multidisciplinary collaboration.
And what he needs the most right now is people.
“It is crucial to get to know people who have experience in creative sectors, either working in or with them, and get their perspective on the direction and possibilities of the creative sectors’ ecosystem. Thoughts, experiences, challenges they might have faced – all information is welcome.”
So, if you have any ideas or thoughts about how to develop collaboration between arts, technology, and business here in Aalto’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, don’t hesitate to contact Mikael!
Project Manager, Boosting Creative Sectors
+358 50 478 6077
The ecosystem model that is under development here in Otaniemi will be co-created with partners and collaborators, such as Aalto University’s schools, faculties and service units, Helsinki metropolitan area cities, companies, and other partners.
The target state of the project consists of three main points:
- Strong creative field – addressing the innovation and business creation skills needs in the creative professions (e.g., digital and entrepreneurial capabilities, international markets, cultural localisation, ethical evaluation).
- Empowered other sectors – addressing the needs for new tools in the other business sectors and future innovations (e.g., creative competences, transformation capacities, visioning the future, co-creation, organisational culture development).
- Attractiveness and vitality of Otaniemi as a multidisciplinary creative hub – attracting current and the prospective faculty members and students (transdisciplinary education and research, including the creative approaches).
The Boosting Creative Sectors project is one of Radical Creativity’s strategic development projects. Radical Creativity is one of the Aalto University strategy’s cross-cutting approaches, along with Entrepreneurial Mindset and Solutions for Sustainability.
An inspiring ecosystem would also have an impact that connects with the goals of Aalto’s strategy and radical creativity: building an outstanding creative community for new thinking, enhancing an inspiring ecosystem that empowers an experimental culture by encouraging to break boundaries and create novel perspectives through the creative approaches, as well as building a sustainable and thriving campus.
The cultural and creative industries’ (CCI) ecosystem presents a great diversity. It covers a wide range of value chains and sectors from architecture, archives, libraries, museums, artistic crafts, audio-visual (including film, television, and multimedia), videogames and immersive experiences, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, design (including fashion design), festivals, music, literature, performing arts, books and publishing, to radio and visual arts.
CCI ecosystem in Europe
- Consists of 99 % small and medium enterprises or micro-enterprises
- Composed of over 8 million talented people across Europe, who work with great passion in 1,2 million enterprises
- In economic terms these sectors represent over €477 billion in turnover annually, which translates to almost 4% of EU's GDP – however, big part of the added value they generate is unquantifiable, but essential for society
CCIs in Finland
- Medium-sized on a Finnish scale – but still larger in terms of both employment and added value than, for example, the electronics industry, forestry, wood industry, paper industry, or agriculture
- Employ approximately 100,000 people and the share of all employed people is 3–5%
- The annual output is 14 billion euros, the wage bill is 5.3 billion euros, and society collects tax and fee income of 3.4 billion euros
- The Finnish government's support of 1.3 billion euros for CCIs produces an output of 14 billion euros
The challenges for creative sectors in Finland
- COVID-19 hit the field hard: in 2020, the cultural and creative economy lost approximately 31% of its revenues
- Scattered and fragmented structure of operation: a lot of small actors working in small companies, often alone
- Lack of an ecosystem, the support for entrepreneurial skills and boosting innovation capabilities