Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were in Otaniemi yesterday to visit the transformed Startup Sauna space. What was once known as the AaltoES Venture Garage went under construction this fall, and has now been renovated and rebranded as the Startup Sauna Coworking Space, as part of a larger rebranding effort by Startup Sauna.
Officially the meeting was just the Prime Ministers getting together, but with all the ground-up efforts around Aalto University on the rise, Finnish politicians wanted to show off the new types of collaboration happening between countries. Startup Sauna has been traveling to and accepting teams from Russia for 2.5 years now.
I spoke with Startup Sauna co-CEO/Captain Antti Ylimutka, who told us he got a super positive impression out of Medvedev. "He seemed to be in a really good mood, when he walked in he cracked a couple jokes. First question he asked was, 'Now that I'm in a sauna do I have to take my clothes of?'
"He was also really interested in the startups and asked good questions about the products. He seemed genuinely interested and knowledgeable when talking to Jani Penttinen of Transfluent about crowdsourcing, for example, which you can't say about every politician."
Finland's Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen also seemed to have the right attitude towards the Aalto University startup movement in Finland, reportedly saying something along the lines that it's his job to make sure that the government doesn't destroy anything happening within the Startup Sauna walls.
The Startup Sauna coworking space is now open to startups in any stage, but it's not 100% completed - there is still some construction going on.
During the trip Medvedev even instagramed the following picture. As Antti Ylimutka puts it, "This is pretty epic."