HEI Schools chosen as finalist for Fast Company's World Changing Ideas Award 2019

PRESS RELEASE April 8th 2019

Selected from over 2,000 entries, HEI Schools was named a finalist for its impactful work globalizing Nordic wellbeing through education.


Fast Company Media is an international leader in the coverage of innovative and progressive businesses around the globe. Fast Company has named Finland’s HEI Schools as a world changing innovator in education, choosing it as a finalist for the annual Fast Company World Changing Ideas contest. The contest is one of Fast Company’s preeminent award programs, designed to elevate bold concepts and celebrate working projects that are generating social good and making the world a better place. “We are honored to be able to recognize HEI Schools’ achievements in creating a World Changing Idea—and to include them as part of this remarkable list of innovative solutions,” says Fast Company editor-in-chief Stephanie Mehta.

HEI Schools is the first education provider to develop a turnkey model to bring Finland’s world-renowned education success story to other countries. With a focus on early childhood education, HEI Schools delivers a complete and integrated package of curriculum materials, teacher training, facility design, and curated learning tools. The package is easy to implement and culturally neutral while still delivering the robust program of education and the essential values of childhood nurturance that have made Finnish schools so widely admired around the world. Importantly, the goal is not to try to export Nordic social norms or structures but to empower local providers with the core building blocks of the Finnish approach. This includes practical techniques, foundational principles, and attention to the physical learning environment. To this end, HEI Schools works closely with local partners in the recruitment and training of personnel, as well as in the construction of beautiful learning spaces inspired by Finnish design. The result is that the HEI Schools model, and its educational mission, are easy to identify, understand, and put into practice.


HEI Schools has developed its model in collaboration with its pedagogical research partner and co-founding institution, the University of Helsinki. The University of Helsinki is a global leader in teacher education, training, and research. Thanks to this partnership HEI Schools is able to integrate the latest findings about childhood development, as well as new practical discoveries in early childhood education and care. Jari Strandman, CEO of Helsinki Innovation Services at the University of Helsinki, notes that the unique collaboration between HEI Schools and the university is already demonstrating its usefulness and importance: “By combining world-leading knowledge about early education with the logistical expertise of the HEI Schools team, and their passion for building a purpose-driven enterprise through holistic design, we are seeing the rapid adoption and development of the HEI Schools model internationally.”

Ultimately, the goal of the HEI Schools model is not simply to produce children who achieve. The goal is for children to discover themselves in a way that empowers them to direct their own lives, to create original ideas, and to help improve the lives of others. Milla Kokko, the CEO and a co-founder of HEI Schools, reflected on the announcement that HEI Schools had been named a World Changing Ideas finalist: “We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to have a positive impact on the world. Our goal with HEI Schools is simple: to provide high-quality early childhood education to as many children and families in the world as possible. As we continue to expand our reach, we will strive to create educational environments that activate young minds, engage communities, and nurture lifelong learning.

Finalists for Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” awards will be featured in the May print edition of Fast Company magazine, which arrives on newsstands on April 16th. HEI Schools educates worldwide, with HEI Schools currently operating in China, South Korea, Finland, and Australia. New HEI Schools locations are set to open in Indonesia, Argentina, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.


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Helsinki International Schools (HEI) was co-founded by the University of Helsinki together with experts in education and design. Inspired by the basic values of trust, accessibility, and high-quality design-for-all that support Nordic educational success, HEI Schools provides a model for global implementation of the world-renown Finnish approach to early childhood education. HEI Schools’ streamlined licensing model is fully scalable and offers curriculum, teacher training, learning environment design, curated learning materials, and operational support for local operators around the world.

Learn more about HEI Schools and Fast Company by visiting:

www.heischools.com and www.fastcompany.com