Last Friday, our highly anticipated third round of the SÄRÖ/FRACTURE pre-incubator programme officially kicked off with 11 teams. Produced by the University of Helsinki with support from Helsinki Think Company, this exciting initiative is all about empowering individuals who are dedicated to making a positive impact on society through entrepreneurship.
Over the next two months, participants will have the unique opportunity to learn, collaborate, and gain invaluable knowledge and tools needed to turn their ideas into a force for change. Featuring an impressive lineup of speakers and on-call advisors, our aim is to ensure that each participant is well-equipped to take their early entrepreneurial idea to the next level.
One of the highlights of the day was when the diverse teams, each filled with creativity and ambition, met for the very first time. As the teams introduced themselves and selected a single word to encapsulate their week, there was an immediate shared sense of purpose. The participants had the privilege of listening to Katja Anoschkin from ARVO ry (Finnish Association for Social Enterprises), who provided valuable insights into the intricacies of crafting a comprehensive “checklist” for the development of socially conscious businesses. The introduction to the world of social entrepreneurship indeed marked an exciting milestone in the programme’s commencement.
We had the chance to chat with the new teams and discuss what their ideas and passions look like, as well as the transformative impact they hoped to achieve.
Meet DataREG, a team consisting of Sanna Toropainen, Frida Alizadeh Westerling, Sofia Heikkonen, Tahoora Heydari, Shervin Karimkashia, Beata Mäihäniemi, Didem Polad, and Beatrice Schütte, all researchers from the University of Helsinki within the Legal Tech Lab, at the Faculty of Law, sharing a broad global perspective. DataREG aims to help small and medium-sized companies navigate data regulations as the team hopes their efforts will encourage companies to be more user-oriented and sustainable, aligning with responsible and goal-driven practices. This enthusiasm to step out of the confines of the university and expand their horizons is evident in their view: “We might have our ‘lawyer glasses’ on, but embracing diverse perspectives could enhance our idea and, in the long run, elevate our research.”
“We are thrilled!” were the first words expressed by IANI’s team members, Ia Kawasaki and Cin Liu, both second-year international students enrolled in the MA programme in Changing Education at the University of Helsinki. “We hope to change education as we feel passionate about mental health issues and the overall well-being of students. Our vision extends beyond borders, we are equally committed to effecting change in our respective home countries, Japan and Taiwan,” they agreed that “it is important to participate in this programme for our personal growth and to determine our compatibility with the entrepreneurial world,” a journey they eagerly embraced.
The SÄRÖ/FRACTURE programme is all about harnessing the power of entrepreneurship to drive social change. With a notable 18 teams applying to take part, including a commendable 12 from the University of Helsinki, we are delighted by the remarkable level of enthusiasm and commitment to our shared mission.
Programme Manager Mari Karjalainen eloquently articulated our sentiment, stating, “Commencing a new journey is always a source of great power. This third batch of SÄRÖ/FRACTURE promises to be an outstanding experience, enriched by the unique diversity of our participants.” With this impressive global representation, we eagerly anticipate remarkable ideas taking shape, collaborations flourishing, and participants gaining profound insights into making a meaningful societal impact.
We also asked if there was something else to learn from running a programme like SÄRÖ/FRACTURE for the third time, and the Programme Manager explained that “There’s always something to learn, and people are different. The participants make the programme unique, and this is all about their experience. Of course, I know how to handle this, and I am always learning new things.”
Moreover, SÄRÖ/FRACTURE has attracted participants from various corners of the globe and Karjalainen revealed her expectations for the programme’s impact: “Our expectations are amazing, as always,” she said with a smile. “Our goal is to empower these entrepreneurs to create a lasting impact that resonates far beyond the programme’s duration,” she continued.
With this initial meet-and-greet, the teams were more eager than ever to dive into the programme. They left the room ready to embark on this transformative adventure.
Jani Lehto, Meilahti Team Lead at Helsinki Think Company and SÄRÖ/FRACTURE Team Member, shared his enthusiasm too: “I am really eager to witness the evolution of the teams and their ideas over the course of these two months.”
In his words, Lehto believed that “As Mari pointed out in the workshop, nothing is set in stone at the beginning, and that uncertainty is so special. It’s truly captivating to observe how the distinct personalities of the participants unfold throughout the programme, leaving their mark on the ideas in every aspect of their journey.”
We invite you to stay tuned for forthcoming updates while we embark on this transformative expedition, as the path ahead of the 11 SÄRÖ/FRACTURE teams holds promise and potential, and we are excited to keep you informed every step of the way. In the meantime, discover further insights about our newest teams and their ideas and check out the programme's esteemed On-Call Advisors.
Text: Lis Vila Rosas
Images: Sanna Kujala
SÄRÖ/FRACTURE is the University of Helsinki's 2-month pre-incubator programme for early-stage socially impactful ideas designed to help teams seeking to do good through entrepreneurship get the necessary support to turn their solutions into successful ventures & NGOs. The 3rd batch is currently under way, with the programme's final scheduled for 13 December 2023.