Today we have the huge privilege of having an interview with Ossi Luoto, the CEO of EARS.asiaEARS stands for “Europe-Asia Roundtable Sessions” and is an awesome roundtable initiative for Asian professionals in the creative industry to network with their European and Finnish counterparts.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’d always been very amazed by the hospitality and creativity of the Finns, even though I don’t really agree with Finnish politics and once had a very bad experience related to (the lack thereof) contracts in Finland.

EARS is a really awesome conference though. If you are interested, you can read my 2014 blog post of EARS here. Enjoy the interview! Team IKI will be at EARS on Thursday, so be sure to say Moikka!~

WW: Moikka Ossi! Can you tell us more about EARS?

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Ossi: EARS – Europe-Asia Roundtable Sessions is THE place for creative industry professionals to discover Asia’s latest trends and meet people behind them.

In addition to organizing annual events bringing together creative professionals of Europe and Asia, EARS is an online media presenting creative professionals from Asia to the rest of the world.

WW: What is the vision of EARS, and why is it organized?

Ossi: EARS was set up in 2012 to provide a place for creative professionals from different cultural settings to meet, connect and share ideas.

Professionals of design, media and marketing, music, and performing arts share the passion for international collaboration. But to be successful in foreign markets, there is a need to know local people and understand cultural differences.

From its beginning the purpose of EARS has been to offer creative professionals a place to meet in person and get to know each other, and to connect the fastest growing creative industry market, Asia, to the rest of the world.

We believe direct connections are the best way to build and foster relationships, and we aim to become the leading place for creative industry professionals to meet and initiate collaboration between East and West.

WW: Why should Finnish creative folks collaborate with Asian professionals?


Ossi: There are many opportunities for Finnish creative professionals to learn from their Asian counterparts, for example, how to operate in an extremely advanced digital environment.

Overall, Asia is a staggering and extremely interesting market with booming creatives industries. This gives opportunities for Finnish creative folks to find new business and partners.

WW: What are some of the highlights of EARS 2016?

Ossi: Meeting new people, and old friends, is always the best part of EARS.

Once again we are looking into the future as we have an extensive track on virtual reality and digital platforms. In addition, the vast program offers the latest trends on performing arts, music, media, fashion and film.

This year we also have a new venue – EARS on Helsinki 2016 will be hosted at the brand new Maria start-up hub in the heart of Helsinki.

WW: It seems that EARS is currently more focused on East-Asia. Any plans to focus more on Southeast Asia and South Asia?

Ossi: Southeast Asia and South Asia are rising and we are paying close attention to what is happening in these markets. We would love to see even more people from the inspiring region to attend EARS.

WW:  What are some of the current successful cross-country collaborations that has resulted from the past years of EARS?


Ossi: For touring artists, EARS has provided unprecedented performing opportunities both in Europe and Asia.

In the past years, leading festival organizers from East and West have booked new content through meeting key people and by getting to know their projects during EARS events.

Finnish fashion brands have also found key collaboration partners from Asian markets at EARS. In general, EARS has offered a great place to meet key people from foreign markets and initiate new projects and ventures.

WW: Does your team have any words for aspiring artists or creatives in Finland?

Ossi: Be open, don’t hesitate to meet new people – you never know where unique encounters can lead to!

WW: What is the Finnish strength on the world’s stage?

Ossi: Finland hosts many of the leading gaming companies in the world.

Not only do they hold records for some of the world’s most popular games but have lately succeeded in the film industry as well. In Finland, creative industries might not have the biggest resources but perhaps that’s the reason we are good at finding innovative and creative solutions.

On a personal level, Finns are easy-going and adjust well to different circumstances and situations. This makes Finnish people ideal counterparts for creative industry collaboration.

WW: On a parting note, do you have anything else to add?


Ossi: EARS on Helsinki 2016 starts on Thursday 25th. We’re looking forward to meeting you there!

You can still buy the tickets to EARS on Helsinki 2016! Click here to purchase. Let me know if you are going, we can have coffee!~ ^^

All photos by Hemmo Rättyä.