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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Finland's Inventor Cooperatives

In 2015 former Nokia employees, many of whom had registered many patents during their time at Nokia, set up A. Vipunen, a cooperative of inventors. It now has over 160 inventors, of whom it helps to develop and commercialise the inventions. It provides free advice and mentoring, helps make a business plan and patent the innovation. And, perhaps most importantly, it provides a community of experienced inventors that have weekly meetings open for all members, where they can socialise and share their ideas. Collaboration also happens with universities, where the cooperative helps researchers find business opportunities for their research. An important part of the process is the use of publicly funded “innovation vouchers”, which the government issues for small businesses that have an idea for a product or a service that has potential for global markets. The vouchers can be used to buy consultancy services for €6200. A. Vipunen also organises Hackathon-type events where businesses give challenges to the cooperative that organises its members to provide solutions that the businesses can then buy.

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