Twelve Finnish SMEs seek after new global markets with help from Global Access Program

During this fall industry professionals doing their MBA degree at UCLA University prepare a comprehensive business plan for Finnish SMEs. That is what Tekes’ and UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Global Access Program is all about.

Icebridge from Vantaa Finland has found a solution for a problem that has been bothering airlines and other transportation companies: how to keep groceries cold during the actual transportation process without electricity.

"Icebridge manufactures none electric cooling solutions for airlines, trains and all the other places where temperature-controlled transportation is needed," says Jarmo Aurekoski, Icebridge CEO.

Cooling solutions are manufactured by Finnish subcontractors. The company has clients already from Europe, Middle-East and Asia, but not yet from USA.

"GAP will give us an insight of the US market – what are the possibilities and what kind of organisation structure is the best to get a foothold here" Aurekoski believes.

The MBA team has already found an unexpected potential clientele.

"The Food truck business in the US is much bigger than what we had been expecting. There are three million food trucks here and they face constantly challenges in maintaining the cold chain. This could be a considerable customer base for us" CEO sums.

Find your loved ones

Do you have a relative suffering from memory losses, a dog that keeps running away or a fancy car you fear somebody might steal? Yepzon's GPS locator is a small wearable device that tracks the location and movements in real time and online.

Eric Smith who is working in Yepzon's MBA team has a personal perspective on this product.

"I found Yepzon interesting from my mother's point of view because at one point in her life she was looking after her own mother who had the Alzheimer's disease and also three little kids. I immediately saw the need for this device. If my mum would have had something like this back then her life would have been so much easier. I want to find a way to hang this product to consumer necks," Smith is smiling.

Valuable help from people who know their business

"The scale of the attending companies is very wide. This year we have 12 Finnish companies. There were around 30 companies that applied for this program. GAP companies from past years have recommended this program again to new companies. Year after year the number of companies wanting to participate is growing. That is a sign that GAP really adds value to companies," GAP manager from Tekes, Minh Lam reveals.

"Each person in the MBA team puts 500 working hours in this project. Together each team will work 2.500 hours for their GAP company. Their rate per hour is only around four dollars here and we are talking about people who have an annual income of USD 100.000."

After Global Access Program one third of the companies are recommended to proceed to the US market. For all of them the students won't show a green light and that's a good thing. This way the company saves time and money and can focus on the markets that are more suitable for them.

"The significance of GAP is increasing. The economy is growing in the US and people there have money, markets and purchasing power. Americans are clearly starting to spend more," Minh Lam sums.

Read more on Global Access Program

Text and videos: Tomi Hinkkanen

Kaj Nordgren
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