After well over a dozen expert-led workshops covering a host of important key entrepreneurial competences, the participating teams in Helsinki Incubators’ first programme – the Deep Tech, AI & Sustainability themed pre-incubator, Compass – celebrated reaching the end of their first foray into entrepreneurial thinking with an evening of pitching to a panel of judges and invited VIP guests.
Gathered in the Linus Torvalds auditorium at the University of Helsinki’s Kumpula campus, the teams, consisting of University of Helsinki students, researchers, and staff, as well as other innovation-minded thinkers and doers from the broader Helsinki start-up community. With solutions ranging from revolutionary biosensor technology to AI-based services helping businesses and consumers live more sustainably, the teams presented compelling cases for ways in which new technologies and AI could benefit the world.
“It was wonderful to see not only how heterogenous this participant group was both in terms of teams and themes,” said Marko Berg, Deputy Chief Investment Officer at University of Helsinki funds and one of the judges, “but also to observe how environmental and social responsibility were built-in to the core of each of the business ideas presented in the final.”
In addition to comments from Mr. Berg, the teams also received valuable feedback from the other three members of the judging panel: Caritta Seppä, COO & Co-founder of Tespack and Forbes 30 under 30 nominee, Elena Inguglia, Business Development Manager & Food Tech Advisor at Helsinki Innovation Services, and Tuomas Oksanen, Investment Director at Grid.vc.
As presented at the start of the final by Compass' project lead Sanna Kujala, the programme was widely appreciated by all participants, who felt that in addition to being able to connect with others and feel as members of a burgeoning community, they were given the opportunity to learn new tools and ways of thinking.
As Esa-Pekka Kumpula, a participant and one of the University of Helsinki researchers behind OrientLock's innovative biosensor research put it: "I had a great time learning to think in an entrepreneurial mindset that is otherwise mostly missing in a scientist’s curriculum. In addition, there were ample opportunities to form new connections and learn together with and from inspiring fellow participants."
Workshop feedback surveys were filled with glowing reviews, with the overall grade given to the programme being 4.6/5. Participants were also notably thankful for the many guest speakers that participated in the programme's workshops, sharing their valuable insight.
"The programme was awesome! We learned new aspects to our business model even though we'd already spent more than six months thinking about it!" raved Jori Karvonen of Switchooo, "The speakers and guests were also amazing, and we got to do a lot of great networking and get valuable connections and, of course, friends."
With the lessons learned from the programme, both the participants and organisers are ready for their next steps.
While a proper "next steps" workshop for the participants will be held on August 22nd, participants now have a wide range of options to choose from. Having now dipped their toes into entrepreneurship and learned the new tools and ways of thinking associated with it, Compass 2022 graduates can now decide to apply to an incubator, to seek independent growth, leverage their new skills and pivot to new ideas, or simply decide to put those skills to use in other non-entrepreneurial ventures. The Deep Tech, AI & Sustainability themed pre-incubator programme Compass is followed by Deep Tech, AI & Sustainability themed Nexus incubator programme.
As for the Helsinki Incubators team, work is already well under way for the launch of Nexus' call for applications coming in the near future. Powered by the City of Helsinki, Nexus will be Helsinki Incubators' 2nd programme in the city's Helsinki-based higher education institutions' Campus Incubators-network, and will run from September 12th 2022 to April 7th, 2023.