Maria 01, the Helsinki, Finland-based startup campus, has kicked off massive expansion plans and announced a new chief executive officer to make good on its plans to become the largest startup campus in Europe (that’s right, in an effort to rob that title away from Paris-based Station F).
Led by incoming CEO Ville Simola, a veteran of the Finnish startup ecosystem who previously helped manage accelerator Startup Sauna, Maria 01 will be expanding its campus to 70,000 square meters by 2023 (up from 10,000 square metres today). By the time Slush rolls around, the available space should already have doubled to 20,000 square metres.
Today, the campus – which is built at a former hospital complex in downtown Helsinki – is home to over 120 startups and scale-ups, 12 VC funds, several ecosystem supporters and over 1,100 members.
The organisation says the future (non-profit) campus will attract approximately 650 new operators, and new jobs for at least 4,000 people.
“I’m excited to take up the reins of this ambitious project which is sure to change the Finnish startup scene today as we know it. I see a lot of challenges in the expansion but I’m no stranger to ecosystem building after my work with Startup Sauna,” said Simola.
“The Nordics are now challenging the established large European hubs and Finnish startups are sprouting faster than ever. Currently, only 16% of the startups who apply to work at Maria 01 are accepted so the new, larger space will help us to meet the increasing demand for our curated community while bringing new jobs to the area meaning huge benefits for the community, startups, city, and economy,” Simola added.
Voitto Kangas, the previous CEO of Maria 01, will be moving on “to new things”.
(Note: Perhaps worth highlighting for the sake of full disclosure that Station F is managed by Tech.eu co-founder Roxanne Varza)