Aalto strengthens its entrepreneurial ecosystem in creative sectors with the lead of Mikael Huhtamäki

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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.

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.

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.”

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!