Nexus — Deep Tech, AI & Sustainability

For those striving for a Deep Tech & AI-enabled sustainable future, NEXUS is the place to grow crystallised solutions into fundable & scalable global startups. Personalised guidance & support, international networks, world-class mentors & experts—all to guarantee your success.

The call for the third NEXUS programme is now open, apply by 14 April! The programme will run from 6 May to 11 November.
About NEXUS

We understand that the skills needed to create innovative and valuable solutions to the world's sustainability problems may not directly correlate with the skills needed to create a successful born-global start-up and bring that solution to market. We also understand the inherent uncertainty of entrepreneurship. That's why NEXUS offers a convergence of solutions to these issues, including a comprehensive suite of personalised education and a dedicated, supportive environment to maximise your chances of success.

Based in Kumpula, Helsinki Incubators' NEXUS is a hybrid between an incubator & accelerator for researchers, innovators, and aspiring entrepreneurs in the field of AI & Deep Tech with answers to society's sustainability-related wicked problems. As part of the vibrant Helsinki Metropolitan Area startup community, we'll work to empower and embolden your team by providing you with all the tools, know-how, networks, and support needed to go from solution to incorporation and beyond.

The aim of our mentors and experts is not only to help you take the world by storm with your solution by developing it into a viable product or service, but also to help you develop your career by learning key skills that can be used on this journey and others. We'll also ensure that you have the opportunity to meet with a wide range of potential customers, partners and investors throughout the incubator to ensure that you get as much relevant feedback as possible and build strong networks to help you achieve your goals.

By the end of the six months, we hope you'll be ready to register your company, launch your product or service, seek funding and investment, and take the next steps that are most relevant to you and your solution, such as applying to an accelerator like Y Combinator or joining a startup hub like Maria01. NEXUS is proudly powered by the City of Helsinki.

Programme Outcomes:

NEXUS focuses on helping you build a startup that can grow and attract funding by bringing real innovative ideas and smart business models to the table. We aim for you to shake up your industry and expand your business globally. What sets us apart from other incubators in Finland is that we're a mentor-driven incubator programme. Throughout our six-month program, we collaborate with mentors and experts from Finnish and international companies, investors, and corporate venture capitalists (CVCs). Acting as a blend of an incubator and an accelerator, our aim is for your venture team to evolve into a startup that's ready for funding and expansion with the guidance of our mentors and experts.

By the end of the programme, at the minimum, we expect every team to have:

  • Developed a scalable and fundable startup based on genuine innovation.
  • Ensured their solution has a significant impact within its industry.
  • Reached out to international markets with a developed product and service.
  • Gained insights from experienced mentors and industry experts, refining the idea into an MVP, PoC or even better making your first sales.
  • Gotten the necessary support to succeed.

In simpler terms, by the end of the programme, we anticipate that each participant will have gained knowledge in the following areas:

  • Identifying problems and creating solutions that bring value to the marketplace.
  • Understanding important business concepts and tools.
  • Developing business strategies and pivoting if needed.
  • Learning sales techniques and business general knowledge.
  • Grasping the basics of marketing, sales and understanding customers segments
  • Understanding how to secure funding and manage startup finances.
  • Enhancing presentation skills: public speaking, pitching skills, delivering presentations, and tailoring messages to different audiences.

Your objective is to shake up the market with your innovative ideas. Our aim is to provide you with all the support you need to succeed in achieving this goal, including international expansion with the help of our mentors and making your startup scalable and fundable.

Programme Topics

NEXUS is on the look-out for teams with innovative ideas, innovations, research, technologies, services, solutions, products, and businesses in the following areas:

  • AI (Cross-Sectoral)
  • Deep Tech, including:
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Geoscience & Geography
    • Mathematics & Statistics
    • Climate Studies
  • Sustainability
  • ... and more!

This is not an exhaustive list — we warmly welcome you to apply with any other AI-enabled, Deep Tech, or Sustainability-related solution, too!

Looking for inspiration? Check out the teams that took part in NEXUS 1 & NEXUS 2, or check out our NEXUS alumni stories at the link below!

Mentors

From the very start of the programme, your team will be matched with 1-2 mentors from our pool of talented mentors. Specifically selected to meet your needs, the mentors will be at your service throughout your NEXUS journey via bi-monthly online sessions.

Your mentors will delve deep into the intricacies of your idea and tap into their own experiences, networks, and expertise to give you actionable insights and recommendations to help you in the process of developing and testing your innovation and propel your venture forward. 

Programme Schedule

NEXUS 3 will be held from 6 May to 11 November, with a "summer break" from 17 June to 12 August. The programme will be in English, and will consist of weekly or bi-weekly workshop sessions primarily at the University of Helsinki's Kumpula campus, as well as online mentoring sessions.

For the weekly/bi-weekly sessions, get ready for interesting & engaging workshop once or twice a week across a variety of topics. We expect 100% in-person attendance from teams with at least one of your team members present.

For the mentor sessions, each team will be assigned 2 dedicated mentors, as well as additional rotating mentors who will provide additional information in their special skills such as marketing, investments, scaling, technical know-how, and corporate interfacing. We expect your entire team to meet with your mentors at least twice a month, with sessions lasting from 30 minutes to 1 hour each. These sessions will be held online, so you can arrange them at times that are best for you and your mentor.

Deliverables & checkpoints:

  • Weeks 1-6: Your team will focus on validating your business idea and finding a market for your product or service. This involves creating a website and a logo, as well as testing your product with potential customers. You'll also practice giving short pitches to a group of investors and mentors.
  • Week 13-18: Your team will work on incorporating your business, preferably getting your business ID within the programme. You will also work towards your first sales, providing evidence of market validation or successful pilot projects with customers. Throughout this period, you will have regular check-ins with your mentors.
  • Week 22 onwards: Your team will prepare for the final review and Demo Day. The NEXUS incubators will conclude with each venture team presenting their progress and achievements during the Demo Day, possibly after being pre-selected by a jury.
Applying

Applications for the 3rd batch of NEXUS are open! To properly understand what we expect from applicants, please read the instructions below for information about the application process, and apply by 14 April!

NEXUS participation is open to bachelors and masters’ students, PhDs, post docs, PIs and researchers, professors, and faculty at the University of Helsinki. However, you don't need a connection to the University of Helsinki to apply, and applications are open to all residents of the Helsinki Capital Region. We simply look for excellent teams, strong commitment, and dedication with great business or tech-related ideas.

Application guidelines:

When submitting your application, you'll be expected to submit the following:

  • A team of at least two members
  • An idea that meets NEXUS' topics
  • A max three-minute video explaining: What problem are you solving? How do you differentiate yourself from competitors? Why should your team be chosen for NEXUS?
  • A business model canvas and value proposition canvas filled with the information of your potential business.
  • A pitch deck or presentation of your venture team made using this template.
  • A one page document explaining your product, service, or solution. Include details about your team members, possible website, and contact information. You can use these templates as a reference.
  • Commitment to actively participate in the workshops and mentoring sessions.

Though it is generally not advised at this early a stage in the entrepreneurial journey, teams may have apply with a registered company. However, we will not accept teams with significant existing turnover.

Meet all the criteria and ready to take part in this transformative programme? Click the link below and fill out the application form by 23:59, 14 April!

Info Sessions

Curious about NEXUS? Still have some questions you'd like to ask before you apply? Want to hear more about the programme to find out if it's the right place for you?

Then consider attending one of our two NEXUS info sessions, held on 13 March (in  Kumpula) and 9 April (in the City Centre). You'll be able to get answers to all of your questions related to the programme directly from programme manager Andres Archila, hear alumni talk about their experiences, and find out how you can take part in Biosphere.

Click the links below for detailed information on the sessions and make sure to sign up beforehand to attend!

Obtaining ECTS Credits

For Doctoral Researchers:

Participating in the incubator programme can be included in your transferable skills studies under the course code PHD-313 for a total of 8 ECTS. Please request a certificate of attendance upon completion of the incubator programme, and contact uhds-office@helsinki.fi for the registration of the credits.

For Bachelor's or Master's Degree Students:

Participants can request a certificate of attendance upon completion of the incubator programme. The certificate is issued by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services at the University of Helsinki. The certificate outlines the completed content of the programme, which corresponds to 5 ECTS.

The student can present the certificate of attendance to their degree programme for credit registration. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services does not issue credits. The degree programme will decide to which course or within what study module the credits can be included.

Students are advised to check with their degree programme first, whether this arrangement is possible. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services does not guarantee that credits can be issued towards all degrees.

Contact Us

Andrès Peña Archila, Project Lead for NEXUS

andres.archila@helsinki.fi

+358 29 41 21201

Andres on LinkedIn