Introducing Konecranes – Finalist of MSF 2020

Meet Konecranes, one of the four finalists in this year’s Most Startup Friendly Company in Finland competition, with Startup Project & Partnership Manager Katariina Palvas, telling more about their startup activities.

Konecranes is a world-leading group of Lifting Businesses™, serving a broad range of customers including manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports and terminals. Konecranes provides productivity enhancing lifting solutions as well as services for lifting equipment of all makes. With our knowledge, products, services and solutions we seek to maximize the positive contributions to our different stakeholders and the surrounding society. We create value for our stakeholders on multiple fronts: through circular economy, digitalization and our deeply rooted safety culture. In 2019, Group sales totaled EUR 3.33 billion. The Group has 18,000 employees in 50 countries.

Story of the startup unit

Konecranes has worked with startups since 2015. We are constantly looking for opportunities to leverage our scale to create new business. Solving a specific technical or business-related problem with digital technology often requires a very focused set of talent and skills. These capabilities are increasingly found in startup organizations, who today also have access to capital and tools previously available only to large corporations, such as cloud computing. Therefore, we believe startups can do outstandingly in solving specific business challenges by leveraging digital technologies. Startups inspire us enormously with their innovative and agile way of creating technical solutions, some of which can disrupt the whole industry. That is why we are committed to collaborating and combining the best of both worlds.

Olli-Pekka Nieminen, Manager, Data & Digital Business Transformation, Katariina Palvas, Manager, Startup Project & Partnership, and Jussi Eskelinen, Manager, DX & Business Design at Station F, Paris 2020.

Startup collaboration is organized by Konecranes’ DX & Business Design team, which facilitates the cooperation between business owners and startups using the most recent outside-in perspectives and methods. The Digital Accelerator unit, which our team is a part of, is dedicated to increasing the execution speed of digital initiatives across the company and spurring new, transformative ideas that drive business growth. We have also formed lean processes and several teams, including marketing, communications and legal are continuously engaged in supporting startup activities.

One of our strengths is our clear, structured pilot process. We are able get the buy-in of business owners right from the beginning. They are engaged already in the scouting phase and in making decisions on which startup to pilot. After the pilots, they are also heavily involved in expanding the collaboration to a more commercial phase. All this is done with our team’s support, but our business owners are also very independent in carrying out the projects with startups. They clearly acknowledge the business value and potential in the co-operation, something which we are very proud of as a company. 

Your success is our success

Konecranes’ goals for startup collaboration are simple: we work together to enhance our offering for existing customers, take new tools that enhance our own business processes into use and partner to grow new business in new customer segments. Konecranes can become a startup’s commercial partner, trusted customer, or both – all our startup activities are driven from real business needs and are based on a proper customer relationship.  All the pilot projects are commercial, which means we will always pay for them. We offer a world-class brand and reputation, a network of 17 000 experts, commercial paid partnership and collaboration, the possibility of co-creating new products and services, investor references and collaboration with a corporate partner of one of Europe’s largest startup campus, Maria 01 in Helsinki.

Olli-Pekka Nieminen and Jussi Eskelinen from Konecranes, with local colleagues from China at Slush Shanghai 2018.

Win-win collaboration

All our startup collaborations follow one core principle: they are built on transparency and trust to create a win-win relationship. This can be seen in our commercial way of working with startups (paid projects) and our willingness to support startups’ long-term success by, for example, offering investor references, coaching and advice. Working with us can help startups offer disruptive solutions to scale up faster. Our aim is to strengthen our collaboration with world-class tech startups and learn new, innovative ways to create business value for our customers.

A try and fail mentality is encouraged to get things going. We also see it as crucial to create value for the startup as well. To get things to the next level internally and to get people to commit to the processes and pilots, it is important to communicate the benefits of cooperation from the perspective of all stakeholders. 

Key achievements

There are plenty! We have done dozens of pilot projects over the years with startups globally and they are equally important in their own way. One of this year’s highlights is our Accelerator Program, which is organized with startup entrepreneurs and targets our own employees. This has created another excellent way to boost innovation and customer-centricity at Konecranes, in addition to the pilot projects with startups. 

Aleksi Miettinen, Innovation Specialist of Innovation Management team pitching at our Accelerator Program at Maria01 2019. Photo by Tapio Auvinen.

As Maria 01’s corporate partner, we created a program to bring the best practices from startup entrepreneurs to accelerate our own ways of working. In 2020, we organized a three-month-long remote Accelerator Program for our own employees, enabling them to live their startup dream in an intrapreneurial setting. Coached by startup entrepreneurs and venture capital investors, our teams innovated new business solutions and developed their projects like a startup, using lean methods. Reflecting Konecranes’ global footprint, we had nine teams formed from experts in 10 countries who pitched their solution to an audience of over 100 business owners and the top management of Konecranes in a virtual event.

Want to be part of the future with Konecranes?

We believe we are one of the most reachable Finnish corporation among startups. We give startup collaboration a high priority and have created a dedicated website for it, Konecranes for startups. It is visibly linked from our main website, something very rare among Finnish stock listed companies. On the page startups can find what we offer, what we look for, how we work with them, and whom from our side to contact. All this is based on the research we carried out among startups regarding what they look for in corporate relationships and what they find challenging. One topic was that startups struggle to create the first contact to a corporation. We solved this problem!

Katariina Palvas, Startup Project & Partnership Manager


Tribe Tampere is awarding annually the Most Startup Friendly Company in Finland. In 2020 the award was handed out for the third time. The award aims to recognize exceptional achievements, which especially industrial corporations have done to foster startup collaboration methods and improve innovation and competitiveness. Tribe Tampere is convinced that the award will stimulate collaboration and investments in startup companies, and boost internal startup culture development in industrial companies in Finland.