The article was first published in the SYK Annual Report of 2021.
IGL-Technologies (IGL) – a company that provides digital parking solutions – was founded and has grown on campus. The premises on campus have facilitated recruitment and aided product development.
– I got the business idea when I was looking out the window during a lecture at the Tampere University of Technology. I was thinking on heating my car to make it start in the freezing weather. That is how it all started, ILG co-founder Alexander Ivaine recalls.
IGL launched its first product – a remote-controlled heating pole and electric car charging station eTolppa – in 2010. Five years later, the Tampere University of Technology (now the University of Tampere) needed to develop parking on campus and commissioned 300 eTolppa poles.
Electric cars started to become more common in 2018, and IGL business expanded rapidly. New, proper premises were needed.
University brings synergy benefit
Right from the start, IGL started to look for premises near the Tampere University of Technology. The proximity of the campus was considered important for both recruitment and academic collaboration. During the years, IGL has participated in various study projects, dissertations, and lectures. In addition, the parking garage on Hervanta campus has been a laboratory where the company has been able to test its new products. At the moment, some of ILG’s employees are students at the university. The short distance enables working between lectures.
– I myself would have loved to have the same kind of opportunity when I was studying. When I was a student, I had to drive to Toijala for work. The commute took a couple of hours each day, Ivaine recalls laughing.
According to SYK Leasing Officer Hanna Saario the proximity of students and business creates mutual synergy benefit.
– University campuses are international research hubs. When the university is this close, it should be leveraged on both sides. In addition, it is worth noting that the universities need partners too, Saario concludes.
The need for space grows with the business
IGL’s first office space was small, just like the company. As the business grew, bigger spaces were needed. During its existence, IGL has moved to larger premises four times. Moving within the campus has been easy and effortless.
– We moved once again to a bigger office in the beginning of this year. We now occupy an entire wing on the upper floor. The premises consist of two open spaces and six smaller rooms. In addition, we have a software development lab and a reception for clients. The lounge with a sofa and TV make the space comfy, Ivaine says.
The growing trend of businesses gravitating towards campuses
According to Saario, more and more businesses are seeking the proximity of universities. Many companies open campus branches where research and development operations are located. Chain businesses benefit from SYK’s large operating area that enable agile expansion. In addition, facilities have been renovated for example for day-care centres, which makes the campuses even more versatile environments.
– We are more than happy to help the development of businesses by providing facilities that meet their needs. Our operating area consists of 12 cities and 16 campuses, which helps us to look at things from a large perspective. Together with the universities, we are able to provide versatile options, Saario says.
The large operating area of SYK has been useful for IGL too, as their digital parking solutions have been implemented on most campuses in Finland.
Sights set on conquering Europe
IGL’s next goal is expanding into the international market. In late 2020, IGL opened offices in the Baltic countries, and the next stop is Sweden. High growth goals mean new job openings and sometimes intensive works spells.
– 80% of the employers are at work all the time. When a large proportion of the day is spent at work, the workplace must be welcoming and flexible. With SYK, everything runs smoothly, and our wishes are taken into account. This is a good base for looking for growth, Ivaine concludes.