If the mobile game “Angry Birds” is about breaking down barriers, Peter Vesterbacka’s next project takes the ambition to a whole new level. The former chief marketing officer at Rovio, the game maker behind the international hit, wants to build a €15-billion underwater tunnel stretching under the Gulf of Finland from Finland to Estonia by December 2024, without using any public funds.
“It’s about changing mindsets,” says Vesterbacka, 50, pulling up plans for the project on his phone and casting them on a large screen on the wall. The 103-kilometer high-speed rail passenger and freight tunnel would be by far the longest in the world — nearly twice as long as its nearest competitors: the Channel tunnel connecting England and France and the Seikan tunnel in Japan. “We’re aiming to up the ambition level and build something for the future,” Vesterbacka says.
Vesterbacka’s dreams go beyond a simple infrastructure project. The tunnel will serve as a centerpiece for a project that includes plans to create an artificial island that could house 50,000 people and the erection of a technology hub in Helsinki that could serve as the beginnings of a “Nordic Silicon Valley.” His goal is to transform the capitals of the two countries, Helsinki and Tallinn, currently linked only by ferry, into a single metropolitan area.