Monday, April 29, 2013 | 5:32 PM
Several of Google’s data centres are located in traditional industrial centres, regions that typically have a good combination of industrial infrastructure, developable land and available workforce. In Belgium, our facility in St. Ghislain sprouted amid closed or shuttered coal mines. In Finland, we purchased the Summa Paper Mill in Hamina in March 2009, from Finnish paper company Stora Enso.
We’re keen to help these regions make the transition from old to new industries, and that’s why today in Finland we’re announcing a new partnership with Aalto University and the regional development agency Cursor.
The new partnership deepens an already strong Google presence in Eastern Finland. We’ve already converted the 60 year old paper mill into a data centre , investing an initial EUR200 million. More than 2,000 individuals working for 50 companies (mostly Finnish and from the local area) contributed to the project. In August 2012, we announced an additional EUR150 million investment to expand the facility which includes the restoration and conversion of an Alvar Aalto-designed machine hall. At peak, we expect the conversion to provide work for approximately 500 engineers and construction workers.
With Google's financial support, Aalto University now will help bolster promising local acceleration programs in southeastern Finland, as well as supporting programs to improve the use of the Internet by local SMEs. The university is one of Finland’s most prestigious educational institutions, and has focused strongly on the creation and expansion of business through technological innovation. It has founded several iconic new concepts like the Aalto Design Factory, the Startup Sauna and the Aalto Ventures. The Economist recently praised Aalto for its role in spreading "the word that Finland’s future lay with new companies, not old giants.”
Over the next 12 months, southeastern Finland's regional development agency Cursor will work together with Aalto University to bring entrepreneurship programs such as Startup Sauna to southeastern Finland, encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting the creation of new companies. Cursor will also strengthen the Venture Gym acceleration program around the growing Playa Game Industry Hub, as well as the region's Kaakko 135 travel and tourism initiative. Aalto will provide high level speakers at events, mentors and coaches for acceleration programmes, and moderate networking events to strengthen industry ties.
This represents our second large data centre community relations program launched in Europe. In February, we announced a partnership with the Mundaneum archives near our Belgian data center. We have been holding a series of presentations and exhibitions about Google Data Centres and hosted a jobs day, explaining what skills are needed to work at a data center. We will use these learnings to offer similar events in Finland. In both Belgium and Finland, our goal is the same: to show the way from our industrial past to our digital future.