Where Urban Mill comes from? Introducing Innovation Alley, Otaniemi and Espoo Innovation Garden

Innovation Alley: Design Factory – Startup Sauna – Urban Mill

Situated in the heart of Espoo Innovation Garden, Innovation Alley is the focal point of innovation buzz on Aalto University campus. Its core activities pivot around Aalto Design Factory, Startup Sauna and Urban Mill. Together these three co-working and co-creation platforms, and their common yards, form a networked physical, virtual and social Knowledge Triangle with its nodes focused on learning (main responsibility Design Factory), systemic innovation (main responsibility Urban Mill) and new business creation (main responsibility Startup Sauna).

These three multi-disciplinary communities of practice work daily and closely together. Activities are mainly self-organised and collaboration is facilitated through shared boundary objects. The human-centered innovation orchestration approaches in use challenge the traditional institution-centered practices. Innovation alley attracts yearly thousands of international visitors (e.g. scholars, businessmen and investors) and the exchange with its global co-location networks is intensive.

Aalto Design Factory (founded 2008) is an experimental co-creation platform for education, research and application of product design – where ‘design’ has a broad meaning. Design Factory aims to develop a passion-based student-centric learning culture for the Aalto University.

Startup Sauna (founded 2010) is a non-profit space, organization and community for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in Northern and Eastern Europe and Russia. The aim is to implement a blooming startup ecosystem and a pay-it-forward culture into the region in order to make it the best place for startups.

Urban Mill (founded 2013) is a thematic focal point and open innovation platform service for global urban innovators. It is a co-working space, an innovation community, as well as a change orchestration tool for urban development. It aims to re-define the way in which people accomplish joint innovation work, and aims to make societal impact in a global urban context.


One alternative future, based on ideas collected from the Innovation Alley communities.

Otaniemi: Innovation – Business – Quality of Life.

Otaniemi, located in Espoo, Finland, is the largest technology hub in the Northern Europe, featuring a unique mix of top-level research organizations, academic institutions and technology businesses. Otaniemi is a community of over 32,000 people that includes 16,000 students and another 16,000 technology professionals.

110 different nationalities. Buzz. Serendipity.

If you are interested in visiting Otaniemi or if you’re looking for a suitable location to establish your hitech business in Scandinavia or Europe, look no further – Otaniemi is the place to be. Are you in Otaniemi yet? If not – allow us already in Otaniemi to help you get started and connected!

Otaniemi Marketing Ltd’s mission is to enhance Otaniemi’s competitiveness by supporting close collaboration between its key players and boosting its recognition and exposure around the world. For more information about Otaniemi and Otaniemi Marketing please check:


Espoo Innovation Garden: Innovation and adventurous experiences!

Espoo is a garden of innovation and adventurous experiences – Espoo Innovation Garden. This refers to an innovative operational model that encourages a culture of collaboration; it’s the Espoo way of thinking and acting. Espoo Innovation Garden shares and enriches the Espoo story.

Espoo Innovation Garden is a growing and developing city garden that offers diverse services in the area that includes Otaniemi, Keilaniemi and Tapiola. It’s the home of the largest innovation hub in Northern Europe with thriving international companies, the hottest start-up sauna on the planet, various cultural activities and sports clubs as well as a renowned community of scientists and researchers. Science, financial activities and arts all make the Garden flourish.

Several world class companies have their global HQ’s, local or regional HQ’s or R&D units in Espoo Innovation Garden. These include Rovio, Kone, Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft, Bayer, Aalto University, VTT Research, EIT ICT Labs.

A total of 5,000 researchers, 25 research and development organisations and a number of Finnish listed companies operate in the area. The fact that there are people of 110 different nationalities working in the area is a clear reflection of its international character. The active centre of science and finance is enriched by abundant offering of arts and cultural events.


Espoo’s success in the European Commission’s 2014 search for the European Capital of Innovation inspired our gardeners to continue to work with the Espoo soil to make it even more of a fertile ground for growth and innovation. Espoo managed to get onto the shortlist of six prominent cities from among 58 applicant cities.

Encounters – planned or random – between people are a source of innovation and new experiences. The garden will grow and flourish the more gardeners that tend to it. Everyone is welcome to do some gardening, make it bloom and create new innovation and experiences.

Making the dream garden come true

Espoo Innovation Garden’s aim is to bring together the various partners operating in the area and to encourage their collaboration and sense of community. We are making our dreams come true by nurturing the best companies, the best research and the best environment to work and live in. We want to prepare a seedbed for creating new jobs and a good strong living environment in collaboration with companies, communities and residents. Our aim is to develop both as a ground where innovation can grow and as a partner who makes innovation work.

We want to increase cooperation activities in order to create opportunities for success for the entire country as well as good life for the people living and working in the area. Our dream is to make the Innovation Garden bear fruit for the entire metropolitan area and all of Finland.

How to become a gardener?

People, companies and communities are the most important resources in our garden. Espoo Innovation Garden is an open network of residents, companies and communities. Anyone can become a gardener – science and research organisations, companies, cultural and sports organisations, city employees and residents. Anyone who lives in or likes Espoo is welcome.




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