Demos Helsinki Annual Report 2020

Welcome to our Annual Report for 2020. Within this short document, we share reflections on how our operations and community embraced the unique year. We highlight key projects and publications and where we go from here. 


2020 was an exceptional year, one of unprecedented disruption from the Pandemic that brought our entire way of life into question. There were profound experiences of loss, pain and fear of the unknown. We grappled with physical separation and isolation on a global scale. Social justice took a central place, rightfully, in the mainstream conversation, instigating a further examination of how our society has become stratified and how our social structures have reinforced inequality and division. We were collectively forced to reckon with how our way of life, particularly amongst the world’s wealthiest, is fundamentally eroding the health of our planet.During this time, the desire to re-imagine our world has resonated with many of us as we were shoved out of the routine that had come to be our ‘normal’.


While the prevailing societal structures, solutions and mindsets have remained largely intact, their weaknesses are now much more apparent. The political, economic and social systems we have relied on in the past have shown their incongruence to Solving the crises Defining our contemporary world as they are inherently connected. The climate and biodiversity crisis, the consequences of largely unregulated, hyper-connecting digital technologies on democracy and livelihoods, the decline of political structures of the 20th century, and the new forms of inequality and Vulnerability Emerging from all of these Trends require a new approach . As our most pressing problems are Deeply interconnected, their solutions will not be found from conventional, top-down, self-interested, isolated actions. 


Pointedly, in this collective moment, a conscious re-Orientation is needed to actively challenge the current systematic approaches with Paradigm-shifting perspective and tools. This shift is not about individual Tactics or data or analysis. We are concerned with Transforming what the current global system is created to optimize. Moving from the hyper-concentration of Wealth for a few at the expense of the majority, to a desirable future state of mutual flourishing of becoming “bigger together”. This type of mutualism means replacing the institutions that produce and maintain economic self-interest with those designed to guard overall economic vitality.Supporting wellbeing, particularly mental health, builds our collective connection and community, which will surely be tested during periods of crises and transformative change.  


This re-Orientation recognizes that we do not, and cannot possibly have all the answers. A Humble approach to decision making is central, with a focus on experimentation, broad-based Consensus-building and long-term planning. This thinking cannot reside passively in the background as societies Falter; we must continue to push and provoke action and implementation.


Our work in 2020


Amidst the disruptions of the past year, we made important steps forward towards clarifying our stance and building upon the strong foundation of our culture and collective competencies. The development and publication of our impact model made the considerations for our work more tangible and identifiably Holistic. With the impact model in place we continued in strengthening our corresponding operations. We grew our research team. We co-launched Untitled, with an Alliance of activist organizations across sectors and around the world, with the aim to re-imagine our future with the time horizon of 2030. The Alliance has now 44 members from Japan to Chile, from venture capitalists to labor unions.In addition, we focused our Consultancy efforts to those that hold the best match of market maturity and impact with our operational competency, 


Here are some key projects and publications completed in the past year, pulling the societal leverages:

  • Circular economy strategy: Ministry of Environment, Finland: Strategic Program for promoting circular economy
  • Sustainability criteria for service providers: Think Sustainably with Helsinki Marketing and adaptation of similar models with Visit Tampere. Developed and Assisted the application of the new Sustainability criteria
  • Future of Libraries: Vantaa City Library: A vision to guide future library operations
  • Steering 2020: Finnish Prime Minister’s Office: show what is the way to steer societies in the 21st century; Humble Governance approach to policy-making
  • Experimentation Guidelines: Latvia State Chancellery: introducing and providing guidance for utilizing experimentation in governmental processes and operations)
  • Strategy for Public Administration: Ministry of Finance, Finland: Holistic strategy that provides guidance for public administration strategies
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Handbook for municipalities: DURATION: implementing SDGs at a local level
  • Turku Old Town Futures : City of Turku: Creating future stories to help envision the historic part of the city for revitalization
  • People first: A vision from the Nordic Smart Cities: Cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere and Vantaa: Collaborative vision on how to lead and manage cities in the 2020s
  • Sustainable business and investment scenarios: St1: future thinking teaching and training material, input for the company’s 2020-2025 strategic business and  investment plan


Demos Helsinki gathered together 44 other organizations to start Untitled, a global community, and the process for social Imagination and experimentation to bring about the next era of our societies.



BlueAdapt: Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland: the project will develop innovative means for supporting sustainable blue growth in food production, energy production, and tourism. We seek new societally impactful solutions and alternative development paths for sustainable transitions.

SUDDEN : Sustainable Drug Discovery and Development with End-Of-Life Yield. Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland: The project that aims at reducing the environmental hazards related to the life cycle of Pharmaceuticals. The other objective is to enhance the Sustainability of the pharmaceutical industry.

BIBU : Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation. Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland: To explore how the global flux of economic restructuring, urbanization, and migration, changes citizens’ political capacities, interests, and emotions, and how the political system responds to these changes.

TOKEN : Transformative impact of distributed technologies in public services. European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program: to develop an experimental Ecosystem to enable the adoption of Distributed Ledger Technologies and to prove its value, via highly replicable Use Cases, as a driver for the Transformation of public services.

Key Publications (in English)


Humble Governance Approach 

Characteristics of a 21st Century Government

Steering Through Capability 

People First: A Vision for a Global Urban Age

The Imaginary Crisis: How We Might Quicken Social and Public Imagination 

A Transition to Just and Green Societies in the EU Requires Fixing the Economic Policy: A Suggestion for Implementing the Economy of Wellbeing

Key Publications (in Finnish)

Policy paper URMI project: Why does Finland’s urbanization continue?

Anticipation 2020: In the midst of exceptional circumstances, the need to understand the future is growing

Digital well-being roadmap for Finland

Management and implementation of sustainable development at the local level (DURATION)

Report on the Urban Everyday Life in the Netherlands: The Best Cities in the World course

The state and future of civil society in Finland in the 2020s


Looking Forward: Our role and responsibility in 2021 and beyond


The next era is about hope, and at Demos Helsinki we are committed to it’s constant cultivation.


Our cultural core is about listening, learning, and challenging – one another, and conventional thinking in general. We value a plurality of views and the wisdom that is gained from giving space and voice to divergent experiences and ideas. This is where Serendipity lives, and through which our culture deepens. 


Our story is not only resonant but Distinctive in its own right. Our democratic nature, our collective decision-making and self-organizing structure is an example for broader systems. Our independence and purpose-driven impact model claim a space that is sought as a path for many to Transform themselves. Our culture and community are constantly being tested, and require our ongoing attentiveness and investment. It is a daily practice, to which we must remain both vigilant and curious. Our continued self-transformation in the decade ahead is intertwined with our purpose of creating a fair, sustainable and joyful next era on the societal level.


By articulating our story more compellingly, we share an identity that others can connect to. Our ethos and impact model enable others to engage in dialogue on shared purpose and values. This connection is a precursor to building the necessary Coalition for transformative change. The world needs a Mighty Coalition of those who understand the value, power and potential of unlikely alliances, like those taking root in Untitled.  


Being at the Vanguard of Transformation means holding acute and exquisite tensions. We must continue to learn, experiment and push through the boundaries of our current societal structures while still leveraging them to ensure necessary Bridges to the future exist. This is the urgent and Radical work of our time, it is why we exist.


Facts from 2020


Demos Helsinki’s annual report concerns both Demos ry and its subsidiaries Demos Helsinki oy and Demos Research Institute oy.


Accounting period


The financial year of Demos ry, Demos Helsinki oy and Demos Research Institute oy is a calendar year. This annual report covers the year 2020.


Organizational and corporate structure


Demos Helsinki is a think tank conducting research and consulting, both of which are managed as separate functional units. These functional units are divided into self-directed teams where research and consulting projects are carried out. Both units have shared administrative and communication services. In addition, Demos Helsinki hosts the international Untitled community.

Administratively, Demos Helsinki consists of four units: Demos ry is the parent of the entire group. It is responsible for Demos Helsinki’s think tank work and agenda, as well as for hosting Untitled community. Demos Helsinki oy, a subsidiary of Demos ry, offers consulting services based on think tank work to the public sector, private sector, NGOs, and Foundations. Demos ry’s holding of Demos Helsinki oy is 95.5%. In addition, Demos Helsinki oy is owned by a number of Demos Helsinki employees and Advisors. Demos ry’s second subsidiary, Demos Research Institute oy, specializes in research and research interaction. Demos ry owns 100% of the non-profit Demos Research Institute oy.

Furthermore, Demos Helsinki oy has a subsidiary called Demos Effect Ab. Demos Effect ab had no business operations during 2020.

Demos ry also previously owned 100% of Demos oy’s share capital. Demos oy had no business operations during 2020. Demos oy was dissolved in the spring of 2020, and the Demos business name became Demos Helsinki oy’s auxiliary business name.



Employees of Demos ry

At the end of 2020, Demos ry had 9 employees. A total of 11 person-years were worked during the year.


Employees of Demos Helsinki oy

At the end of 2020, Demos Helsinki oy had 28 employees. A total of 28 person-years were worked during the year.


Employees of Demos Research Institute oy

At the end of 2020, Demos Research Institute oy had 9 employees. A total of 5 person-years were worked during the year.


Board of Demos ry until 13.5.2020

Tuija Talvitie, chairman

Oona Frilander, Vice-Chair

Sari Baldauf

Mikael Sokero


After the death of Tuija Talvitie on January 2, 2020, Oona Frilander, who had previously served as Deputy Chairman of the Board, served as the Chairman of the Board of Demos ry until the Annual Meeting held on May 13, 2020.


Board of the Demos Association as of May 13, 2020

Mikael Sokero, chairman

Johannes Anttila, Vice Chairman

Sari Baldauf

Olli-Pekka Heinonen


Louna Laurila acted as the non-board secretary of Demos ry.


Board of Directors of Demos Helsinki oy as of November 29, 2019 (continued)

Juha Leppänen, Member

Johanna Lampinen, Deputy member


Board of Directors of Demos Research Institute oy until 14.5.2020

Juha Leppänen, Chairman

Oona Frilander

Mikael Sokero


Board of Directors of Demos Research Institute oy as of 14 May 2020

Juha Leppänen, member

Johanna Lampinen, Deputy member


Demos Helsinki Fellow

Sir Geoff Mulgan CBE, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at University College London (UCL)


Associate Group

Antti Hautamäki, senior associate, Professor emeritus

Peter Ache, Professor of Planology, Radboud University Nijmegen

Juha Huuskonen, curator, Helsinki International Artist Program

Airi Lampinen, Assistant Professor, Stockholm University; Docent, University of Helsinki

Seungho Lee, Assistant Professor, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

Sari Stenfors, Executive Director for Augmented Leadership Institute


Key figures

Demos ry

Turnover: € 1,263,111.43

Financial Result: € 108,440.74


Demos Helsinki oy

Turnover: € 3,018,525.00

Financial Result: € 139,262.20


Demos Research Institute oy

Turnover: € 434,365.38

Financial Result: -128 361.56 €


Transfers between parts of the Demos Helsinki units have not been deducted from the above turnover figures. The combined turnover of the entire group in 2020 was EUR 3.9 million, and the combined financial results were EUR 0.1 million.


About the administration

  • Demos ry’s board held the meeting 8 times.
  • Demos Helsinki oy’s Board of Directors held the meeting 8 times.
  • The Board of Directors of the Demos Research Institute oy held the meeting 5 times.
  • Financial administration and accounting were handled by Tilipalvelu Rantalainen oy.
  • Risto Ekholm was responsible for the audit from BDO Oy until the annual meeting on 13 May 2020 and from then on Jukka Prepula from TiliExtra oy.
  • The premises are located in Helsinki at Mechelininkatu 3d.
  • Demos Helsinki oy is a member of the Climate Leadership Coalition, the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce and the World Benchmarking Alliance.
  • Demos Research Institute oy is a member of the BDVA European Big Data Value Association and SDSN Northern Europe.
  • Demos ry is a member of the Institute of Deliberative Democracy and My Data Global.



Feature Image: Javier Allegue Barros / Unsplash