Courtesy of Demos Helsinki

Fulltime HEL: Episode 17 — Demos Helsinki

There are a lot of factors that shape a city, hell there are a lot of actors that shape a city like Helsinki. The larger the city the greater number of stakeholders, not just in terms of population but organizations whose purpose is specifically to affect the city. They can do so through economic, social, political, ethnic or cultural means.

The ways in which they do so differ. Some lobby and seek to enact laws. Some create movements. Others buy land and determine how that space will be used. All of it affects a city and its residents for good or bad. The reasons behind such actions differ for each actor, some do it for a perceived greater good and others for themselves, regardless it’s all social engineering. And some actors are just more explicit about their experiments, but before that…

Welcome to episode 17 of Fulltime HEL, the podcast about startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and co-working spaces in Helsinki, Finland. I’m your host Gregory Pellechi.

On this episode, Demos Helsinki, a think tank turning thought into action, and doing social experiments.

The experiments are not as nefarious as I may have made it out to be earlier, as what Demos Helsinki does is always with the consent of those they are working with. But don’t take my word for it.

Since I tend to butcher Finnish names, I’ll let today’s guest introduce himself.

Like most NGOs Demos Helsinki is quite open about their sources of funding, though hearing Juha talk about their clients and selling their work they sound more like a startup. That said there are plenty of private companies and startups working in the same spaces as NGOs.

They may be an NGO with a very business like approach, but they don’t describe themselves as such. Think tank is the term Juha and the rest of the team use, but it’s one that I’m not even sure applies. But maybe it’s the best description and my preconceptions of the term are limiting me, and not the other way around.

It’s that work with Startups that initially interested me in Demos. It’s not uncommon for NGOs to promote businesses, provide benefits to them or hire their services. Launchpad USA and AmCham Finland are great examples and more information on them can be found in episode 14 of Fulltime HEL.

Making the future brighter is a common goal amongst Startups in this city. What helps them achieve such goals are organizations like Demos Helsinki. Their project Smart Retro is a great example of such.

New tools and methods are the real impetus behind the Startup trend. There’s a recognition out there that the old ways of operating aren’t necessarily the best, that improvements can be made. That’s not to say that everything Startups do are without problems, but when coupled with a think tank like Demos Helsinki it’s interesting to see what’s possible, what solutions can be developed and how issues can be reimagined as opportunities.

For more information on Demos Helsinki visit their website at On the next episode of Fulltime HEL, HealthSPA, refreshing health Startups with more than a trip to the sauna.

Fulltime HEL was produced by me, Gregory Pellechi. Music for the show is courtesy of Chris Zabriskie.

Originally published at on February 19, 2016.

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