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Mediapolis: A capital of creation in the heart of Finland

Did you know that one of Europe’s largest TV studios is at home in Tampere? And this might not even be the most interesting thing about Mediapolis , a media campus located in the Tampere disctrict of Tohloppi. Mediapolis offers media companies – including the Finnish public broadcaster YLE – quite a lot more than just office cubicles. It has become an enabler of collaboration for the creative industries and a capital of creation in the heart of Finland, operating on an international scale.

During the recent visit by Business Tampere and the Tampere Ambassadors to Mediapolis and Nenäpäivä, we talked to Minna Tiihonen and Ilkka Rahkonen, Mediapolis’ original founders, about how Mediapolis makes co-creation possible – both locally and internationally - and what makes Tampere a great place for the creative industries.

“International collaboration is the new normal.”

More than 30 media companies and start-ups as well as three university departments are currently under one roof at Mediapolis. More than a thousand people are on campus every day, working or studying. The result is a thriving network that routinely crosses the boundaries between the public and private sectors, research and business.

“Media is a people’s business”, says Ilkka Rahkonen, who is nowadays the business development director for media at Business Tampere. “Almost everything depends on finding the right people.”

“Think for instance of recruitment, one of the many ways Mediapolis makes collaboration happen”, adds Minna Tiihonen, partnerships manager at YLE. “The closeness of the media units of TAMK, TREDU and the University of Tampere makes it easy for the companies at Mediapolis to find the right people for their projects.”

Ilkka Rahkonen & Minna Tiihonen (Photo: Laura Vanzo)

But Mediapolis is also a place with an international outlook and it plays an important role in putting Tampere on the map as one of Europe’s major hubs of content creation. As Ilkka puts it, in media production, “international collaboration is the new normal”. In this golden age of television broadcast that we are arguably living in, audiences’ expectations of quality have been rising continuously, and with them the budgets: “Medium size productions are dying”, says Ilkka. “There is a big need of efficiently produced programs and, at the same time, the need for high end drama is rising. There can be as much as 20-times difference in episode price between those.” In order to make productions of this scale happen, international cooperation is a must, especially for small countries like Finland.

“The workflow here is immensely satisfying.”

But what does this collaboration look like in practice? “There a few typical routes”, says Ilkka: “The most common case is that companies come together to create something new. Or the companies and educational institutions start development projects together; for instance, there have been cooperations between companies with TAMK for international projects. International thinkers and business makers have been invited.”

“The feedback from our current partners is that the workflow here is immensely satisfying. And to us as the founders of Mediapolis, it’s clear that we want more”, says Minna. “We are on the lookout for companies, and projects around which companies can be built, from any media-related field.” Any interested party can get in touch with Ilkka or Minna directly.

(Photo: Opa Latvala)

“In Tampere there is this mindset of getting things done.”

Lastly, of course we wanted to know what role Tampere has played in Mediapolis’ success story. Ilkka and Minna agree: If Tampere were not Tampere, maybe there would be no Mediapolis. Minna has only the highest praise for Tampere’s culture of cooperation: “Tampere generally boasts very high skill levels. But at the same time there is room for conflict and mistakes, which in the end make us work better together.”

“I can pick up the phone and easily find competent people for any job”, says Ilkka. “There is this mindset of getting things done, combined with a relaxed attitude. This makes cooperation very, very easy.”

By the way: Interested members of the public are invited to drop by Mediapolis any time. There are weekly tours, a café, and some studio programs are open to the public as well. Companies or students working on a project can even book a meeting room, and Mediapolis can also house events for up to 100 people.