HELSEED is an entrepreneurship programme geared to students and aimed at inspiring them to develop their ideas into startups. Another goal is to support existing startups in developing their operations.
The premise of the programme is to draw up a business plan on the basis of an idea or for an existing startup. Over the course of the programme, Helsinki Think Company will hold a range of workshops related to business ideas and entrepreneurship, which will also help in drawing up a business plan. The University of Helsinki Funds will make an initial investment in the most interesting startups.
The programme is ideal for teams that have come up with an interesting idea but have not yet established a company, for those who have already founded a company and also for startups that have operated some years already.
HELSEED was first organised in 2020, and the University of Helsinki Funds has invested in two companies through the programme, €30,000 to each. These companies are Evergreen Viherseinät Oy and Evexia Oy. You can read more about Evexia’s story in a Finnish-language Helsinki Think Company blog entry: Yrittäjyydellä terveydenhuollon alalle (‘Entering the healthcare sector via entrepreneurship’). Evergreen is participating in the Urban Tech Helsinki incubator of the University of Helsinki, Aalto University and the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. You can familiarise yourself with Evergreen’s business idea by watching an introductory video or reading a Swedish-language article in the Hufvudstadsbladet daily. Information on future investments will be published as soon as they are confirmed.
Lessons from entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking is sure to support students’ future, even if their career is not oriented towards entrepreneurship.
The funding opportunity offered by the HELSEED programme to student startups is unique in Finland. In 2021, the Tradeka Foundation donated €50,000 to the HELSEED endowment fund, to be invested in student startups, demonstrating a broader societal interest in promoting student entrepreneurship.
Startup entrepreneurship engenders opportunities to influence precisely the things that matter to you. However, launching business operations can seem a remote prospect, and propelling a startup or a business plan may appear complicated.
As part of the HELSEED programme, Helsinki Think Company will organise workshops in the spring and autumn that provide information and tools for different stages of business operations, from refining an original idea and selecting a business model to developing a business plan and negotiating with investors. The workshops are voluntary and open to anyone interested in entrepreneurial skills. In other words, you can take part in all of them or choose the ones that interest you. Teams are also welcome to work on their ideas and business plans on the Helsinki Think Company premises, which can be found on all of the University of Helsinki's campuses. Since these facilities have had to be partially closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, please check their opening hours on the Helsinki Think Company website.
Teams interested in initial funding must submit their business plans by 31 October 2022 to firstname.lastname@example.org. The HELSEED jury will review the plans and provide the teams with feedback. The teams with the most convincing business plans will be asked to prepare a short pitch and deliver it to the jury at the end of November. The University of Helsinki Funds will invest €10,000–€50,000 in the most promising startups in the form of seed funding. The terms of any such funding will be agreed separately.
In the HELSEED workshops, anyone working on a project or business idea of their own has the opportunity to forge their opportunity into as concrete shape as possible under an encouraging atmosphere and with external support. The workshops are open and free of charge to all. Further information on the workshops will be posted on the Helsinki Think Company website.
In the autumn, the workshop topics include pitching and legal matters related to founding businesses. Further information will be provided at a later date. Read more about the Helsinki Think Company workshops.
Business plans must be submitted by 31 October 2022 at 23.59 local Helsinki time.
Business plans will be reviewed and feedback on them provided by the end of November.
HELSEED pitch deck presentation in late November
Students can earn one to three ECTS credits from participating in the HELSEED programme. One ECTS credit can be earned for an acceptable business plan (in one team a maximum of five students can earn credits). Members of the teams that are invited to present their business plan orally (pitch) can earn one ECTS credit for an acceptable presentation. Team members of teams that are invited to investment negotiations can earn one ECTS credit for an acceptable performance in the negotiations and related due diligence process (earning credits does not require or guarantee an investment from the University of Helsinki Funds). Course teachers determine the completion of any components on a scale of pass/fail.
Are there any additional requirements regarding the one attending undergraduate or postgraduate student at the University of Helsinki? Could an established company hire one student from University of Helsinki and seek an investment through the HELSEED programme?
The HELSEED programme is designed for student-led startups and business ideas. At least one attending student from the University of Helsinki must be a key member of the startup team. Consequently, hiring a student does not constitute grounds for seeking an investment through the HELSEED programme.
How are Think Company workshops linked to potential ECTS credits/registration of completed studies in conjunction with HELSEED?
Think Company workshops are voluntary and support the formulation and drawing up of business plans, in addition to which they provide tools for business development. In this way, they may help in completing a course, but they are not a prerequisite.
Can I participate in the programme on my own?
You can participate on your own, but we recommend that you find at least one other enthusiastic participant for your team. Founding a startup on your own is a big undertaking.
What kind of ideas have been presented in business plans, and what kind of teams have participated in the programme?
Teams and startups from a number of disciplines and all of the campuses have participated in the programme. Among other things, the business plans have introduced IT-based ideas, medical devices, food-related innovations as well as applications related to facility development and improving concentration. The programme has included teams whose members are all students of the University of Helsinki, as well as a large number of teams with students from other higher education institutions and professional life.
What is the process after the pitch if you find my idea interesting?
From this point onwards, we aim to run the process as any other external investor. The processes between projects at the idea stage and existing startups differ slightly. In any case, we will discuss the potential weaknesses and strengths as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with the business. In the case of existing businesses, we will ensure that their legal affairs are in order and draw up a list, if necessary, of the things that require revision. We will discuss the shareholder agreement and negotiate the share the University would obtain through its investment. An investment can only be made after the startup has been founded.
I will graduate before October. Can I still participate?
If you are an attending student of the University of Helsinki at the time of submitting the business plan, you can participate in the programme.
Do I have to pay a fee to participate?
The programme is free of charge for all participants.
I am an exchange student at the University of Helsinki. Can I participate?
If you are an attending student of the University of Helsinki at the time of submitting the business plan, you can participate in the programme. Please note that, in accordance with the University’s principles of responsible investment activities, the University generally invests only in startups registered in Finland.
Does the programme have an age limit?
The programme has no age limit.
Can I participate in the programme if I am unable to attend the workshops?
Participation in the workshops is recommended but voluntary.
How can Helsinki Think Company help me?
Helsinki Think Company organises the HELSEED workshops indicated in the timetable of the HELSEED programme. These workshops offer support for developing the original idea and working on the business plan. You can also find good coaching opportunities through Think Company, both from the other teams and from Think Company staff. You can contact Think Company, for example, by email at email@example.com. When the exceptional circumstances associated with the Covid-19 pandemic have ended, Think Company will also offer work facilities to the teams. Please check the Think Company website for the current opening hours.
What kind of ideas or startups are suitable for the programme?
Any idea that can be developed into a startup is suitable. Although startups are often technology oriented, we are sure that other ideas can also serve as the basis for a successful startup. The initial funding provided by the University of Helsinki Funds is an investment, which means we can only invest in companies seeking to make a profit. However, the HELSEED workshops organised by Think Company are open to anyone interested in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills.
Is the funding an investment or a form of financial support?
The funding is an equity investment which is subject to specific terms and conditions. In exchange for the investment, the University of Helsinki Funds receives a number of shares in the company, as separately agreed.
What terms and conditions does the investment include?
The terms and conditions are negotiated separately, as is typical of investments. In connection with the investment, the University of Helsinki Funds and the startup team (and any other investors/owners) conclude a mutual shareholder agreement. This is a great opportunity for the startup to establish a shareholder agreement template, which will continue to serve a function as the company matures and which is also acceptable for other external investors.
Can I send you an idea/pitch as a video to provide a better description?
You can send us a pitch video, but it is not compulsory. However, a video cannot replace the written business plan, which must be submitted by 31 October 2022.
Will the presentation session of pitches/business plans be held on Zoom/Teams?
This depends on the coronavirus situation. A decision will be made closer to the date. Previous sessions were organised on Zoom/Teams.
Where can I get more information on matters related to establishing a business?