“Remember, we’re here to support you on this journey!”
As participants sat attentively listening to Compass Programme Manager Pedro Gensini’s welcoming remarks during the programme’s kick off session on January 17th, the message was clear: while many elements of intense, 2-month programme may be new to the 17 teams taking part in this year’s edition of the Deep Tech, AI & Sustainability pre-incubator, the programme’s organisers and visiting experts would do their best to make sure that the participants get the most out of their experience.
“I’m happy to be joining a supportive community that’s thematically relevant to our project which will help us develop it further,” said participant Elena Melnikova, who along with her co-founder Eldar Aliyev joined the programme to further develop her idea, an 18-wheeled electric ATV that would allow for rapid movement across rugged terrain while causing minimal damage to the ground as it does so. “I’m looking forward to learning from the Helsinki Incubators team and visiting experts, and getting peer support from others in the programme.”
Having already had one successful batch in 2022, the programme returns with an improved structure for 2023. In addition to the over a dozen expert-led workshops covering a host of entrepreneurial basics, this year the programme will offer its participants a new service: on-call guidance. This additional pre-incubator feature will allow participants to reach out to a pool of hand-picked professionals in a variety of fields like product design or business modelling and meet with them one-on-one to ask for advice relating to their business idea and plug any knowledge gaps they may still have.
“Having done my Master’s in Aalto, I have some basic business know-how,” explained Niko Räty, a University of Helsinki PhD researcher in Political, Societal, and Regional Change. “But I recognise that I’m still lacking some skills.” Working with his co-founder David Kondo, Räty is hoping that Compass will allow him to develop his idea into a workable business and realise his long-time dream. “I’m hoping that by the end of this, I’ll have all I need to finally start my business connecting people and saunas”
With a cohort consisting of students at all levels, experienced entrepreneurs, researchers, and everything in between, the 30 programme participants have an encouraging mix of skills.
“The teams are all really good,” Gensini excitedly explained. “While there’s a variety in the topics they’re working on, there’s still plenty of similarities between many of them. And since some teams are more advanced than others, and others are really green, I believe that the teams really complement each other. I’m hoping that there’ll be a good community spirit where everyone helps each other, and some teams may even end up merging.”
Gensini’s hope was shared by participants: “I’m trying to come up with a sustainable way to help create and distribute food, water, and energy in refugee camps. My expertise is in political science, so I really understand the situation on the ground, and I’ve got an idea of how the solution could work,” explained 1-man team Manuel Dias. “But in terms of business understanding, or the technical realities, I’ve not got much. So, I’m hoping that in addition to the experts, I can get help here from some of the other teams. People who understand the technical realities of what we’re trying to do and could help me understand what I’m doing wrong, or someone who could help me get this organisation really going with some business know-how.”
Interested in getting to know the teams and their solutions? Then check out the programme’s 2023 participant page here, and keep an eye out for updates on the teams’ progress on Helsinki Incubators’ channels.