COMMERCIAL LAUNCHPAD

Serving leading technology companies
entering or expanding in the U.S. & N. America Markets

About Us

FinnZone Commercial Launchpad was created to assist leading technology companies entering or expanding in the U.S. and North American markets. FinnZone is located at Innovation Shore in the cities of Houghton and Hancock, in Northern Michigan.  FinnZone provides the following resources:

  • U.S. commercialization strategy advising and corporate connections
  • Access to top ranked science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) university interns and graduates from Michigan Technological University
  • Reduced rate office space in one or more of our three facilities, or offsite location assistance
  • Assistance raising capital, through private investment or loans
  • Access to Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) business development resources

The Top 25: Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech is ranked by Forbes as a Top 25 U.S. Research University in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), producing graduates at the forefront of advancements in biomedical, automotive and transportation technologies, AI, computer science, data science, electronics and sensors, energy, robotics and mechanics, mobility, advanced materials, sustainability, manufacturing and advanced process technologies.

The FinnZone, together with MTU, provide innovative companies with the key resources you’ll need to develop in the United States – talent, brains and experience.

Accelerate your company’s growth – in the FinnZone. http://finnzone.org/

The FinnZone is a partnership of MTEC SmartZone, Finlandia University, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce (U.P.), Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) and WUPPDR in collaboration with Michigan Tech University.

High-tech Business Sectors

Listed below are the major types of industry, research, and technology clusters in our region.

Forest Industries & Natural Resources

Biobased Products & Technologies

Biomedical & Health

High-Tech Manufacturing & Advance Process Technologies

Advanced Materials

AI, Computer Engineering, Robotics

Space, Aerospace

Digitalization & Software

IoT, Sensors, Data Science

Ed-Tech

Transportation & Mobility

CleanTech

“In 5 years, the Midwest (USA) will have more startups than Silicon Valley” – Venture Beat

The Midwest USA - Look Beyond the East & West Coasts

The Midwest’s significant innovation assets are gaining more attention. Home to more than 200 of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies and 20 of the world’s top 200 research universities, the upper Midwest generates 26 percent of the nations’ corporate and university patents and 31 percent of its university-based research and development. The region’s formidable network of colleges and universities means it also punches above its weight in generating talent. With 31 percent of the nation’s population, schools in these states produce 35 percent of the nation’s total bachelor’s degree holders, 33 percent of its STEM graduates, and 32 percent of all higher education degrees awarded in the United States.

Many in the technology sectors now have the flexibility of living in virtually any location in the U.S., and these factors allow us to stand out as a choice to live and work.

Our Finnish-American Heritage

Leading technology companies are discovering this area is a good place to locate and conduct business, and that there is a culture that is familiar and welcoming. Our Finnish ancestors who migrated here to the region decades ago brought a proud heritage, culture and sisu determination to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Many Finnish-American descendants in our region today retain roots to
Finland. In Hancock, approximately 40 percent of the population claim Finnish ancestry in the most recent federal census, and the language is still spoken by some. The State of Michigan has the highest percentage and number of Finnish-Americans in the U.S., and most are located in the Upper Peninsula.

Team & Bios

KEVIN MANNINEN

Co-Director, FinnZone • Dean, School of Int’l Business, Finlandia University • President, Finnish American Chamber of Commerce, U.P.

A native of the Copper Country and the grandson of Finnish immigrant copper miners, Kevin is currently the Dean of the International School of Business at Finlandia University and president of the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce Upper Michigan . In addition, he also lectures in global entrepreneurship, business strategy and project management for the University. Previous to this, he lived and worked for 15 years in Finland. The majority of this time he lectured in international business and marketing for the International Business Program at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä. While at JAMK, he trained, coached and advised numerous Finnish and Russian start-ups and established companies and organizations. His last two years in Finland were as the Manager of Business Development at Jyväskylä Innovation, Oy where he marketed the Jyväskylä region to foreign investors and assisted in developing its high tech business sectors. Upon returning to the USA in 2010, he worked for one year as an Economic Coordinator for Western U.P. Planning and Development Region. He was a FinnFest USA 2013 board member and chaired the Business and Technology Forum and Marketing committees. A graduate of Michigan Technological University and Eastern Michigan University, Kevin and his wife Liisa live in Atlantic Mine, Michigan.

PATRICK VISSER

Co-Director, FinnZone • Chief Commercial Officer, MTEC SmartZone

Patrick Visser is a business innovation executive, mentor and successful entrepreneur. His expertise areas are strategy, ideation and innovation, commercialization, product/business development and capitalization advising. He serves as Chief Commercial Officer for a Michigan-based high-tech accelerator and incubator. He is also Founder & Co-Director of FinnZone, a commercial launch pad assisting Finnish SME’s entering the North American market. Past assignments include: Independent Consultant at Visser LLC; Chief Commercial Officer (interim) of a VC funded UK clinical decision support software company; Founder and SVP Business Development of a life sciences B2B SaaS (acquired); Senior Consultant in both the financial services and strategy advisory groups of an international consulting company (PWC) involved in tax/accounting, M&A and strategy, and; Pharmaceutical Rep and Hospital Sales Manager for Solvay Pharma (Solvay S.A., Brussels, Belgium) acquired by Abbott Labs. Patrick serves on the boards of several SME’s and a non-profit, has conducted business in Belgium, U.S., UK, Italy and Finland, and earned a MBA in marketing and supply chain management from the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University. Patrick’s maternal ancestors (Laulumaa and Erkkilä) immigrated to the U.P. from Oulu and Kannus areas of Finland.

TODD HOLMSTROM

CONSUL GENERAL, JEDDAH

United States Consul General in Jeddah, Todd Holmstrom, is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. Prior to this appointment, he served as deputy chief of mission in N’Djamena, Chad from 2011 to 2013. From 2005 to August 2008, Mr. Holmstrom spent three years in Damascus where he served sequentially as economic counselor, chief of the political/economic section, and as acting DCM for his last year at the Embassy. His Washington service includes being the deputy director of the State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs (2008 to 2010), a desk officer, and a special assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State. Mr. Holmstrom is married and has four children. He speaks Arabic, French, and Dutch. Mr. Holmstrom received his BA from Northern Michigan University, and his MS from the National War College.

JEFF RATCLIFFE

Executive Director, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA)

Jeff has a wide range of community and economic development experience. Over his 25 year economic development career in small rural communities he has worked with manufacturers and commercial businesses to identify financing and operational problems, obtain expansion financing and address management issues; worked with manufacturers and commercial businesses to solve employee screening, training, infrastructure and regulatory issues; worked with identified prospects to provide custom site location information package incentives and numerous business locations resulting in new jobs and millions of dollars in new investment; identified, packaged and managed infrastructure development to serve business expansions and locations; counseled start up and existing businesses, reviewed business plans, facilitated strategic planning, provided ongoing financial review and packaged loans for bank and EDC-managed revolving loan fund financing.

KARIN BÄCKLUND-VANDYKE​

Vice President, University Relations, Finlandia University • Director of the Jutila Center

Karin Van Dyke, Vice President for External Relations and Advancement has been at Finlandia University for the past five years. She is the Director of the Finlandia University Jutila Center, a small business incubator located in the University’s re-purposed hospital building; as well as oversight for the Finnish American Heritage Center. With over thirty years of management experience in a variety of settings, Van Dyke’s leadership experience includes higher education, forest products industry and healthcare, ranging from a small private corporation to a Fortune 500 company; and working for a for-profit corporation, to a large complex, non-profit organization.

Jerry Wuorenmaa

Executive Director, Western
Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region




Jerry has been employed by WUPPDR since July 2011. In addition to managing the organization, his interests and responsibilities include master and strategic planning; recreation, transportation, and hazard mitigation planning; and economic development. He is also the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) coordinator. In his free time, he likes to fish for stream trout, camp, and travel – within the U.P., the U.S., and abroad.

EXPAND IN THE U.S. MARKET

FinnZone seeks to assist leading technology companies entering or expanding in the U.S. market.

If you are interested in FinnZone services or locating at Innovation Shore in Michigan’s UP, please contact us to discuss further.

Houghton, Michigan named “One of the top 50 best small towns in the U.S.” -moveBuddha

Contact us Today!

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FinnZone – Jutila Center

200 Michigan St., Suite 320
Hancock, Michigan 49930 

Phone: 1.906.487.7371

The FinnZone, an innovative public / private partnership of Finnish-American individuals and organizations based in Michigan, is helping leading technology companies to accelerate growth and U.S. commercialization by leveraging homegrown STEM talent from Michigan Tech University (MTU). MTU’s advanced engineering programs produce more engineers per square mile than MIT, Georgia Tech or Stanford - more biomedical, electrical, computer science, mechanical, chemical and metallurgical engineers - engineers that are loaded with talent and ideas, ready to go to work and help your company innovate and grow.  

The Houghton / Hancock area, home to MTU, is centrally located in the US and Eastern time zone. Its Midwest location means easy access to markets on both coasts with a quick connecting flight, and more importantly, the very low cost of living in Northern Michigan opens your company to developing one of the most cost effective engineering and STEM talent pools in the United States. Warm and inviting, the communities surrounding MTU lavish those who live and visit with opportunities for year round sporting and outdoor enjoyment. You can easily sail on Lake Superior, mountain bike in a nationally renowned venue, or ski some of the best fresh powder slopes in the Midwest and then spend time with family and friends at one of the many brewpubs in the area. Quality of life is key and few areas provide the charm and hospitality of Northern Michigan, home to the most Finnish-Americans in the United States.

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