“You All Brought Your Passion Tonight, and You Should Be Proud.” Biosphere 2 Concludes With Demo Day & Pitch Competition

Rounding out a half year's journey by 13 teams developing innovative solutions to sustainability issues, the Biosphere 2 demo day was both a celebration of how far the participants had come in such a short amount of time, as well as a friendly competition to crown the most promising team of all.

And with that, it was over.

On March 11th, after six months of hard work from the University of Helsinki's Biosphere incubator's teams developing their solutions, honing their entrepreneurial skills, and validating their ideas in the market – all done with guidance from their mentors and the programme’s organisers and visiting experts – the teams celebrated the conclusion of this significant step in their journeys with the programme’s finale: the Biosphere 2 demo day, held on 11 March.

“Thank you all for coming to this demo day,” said Biosphere Programme Manager Pedro Gensini to the assembled teams, mentors, experts, and ecosystem guests. “It’s been a lovely journey with these teams,” Gensini continued, “During the programme, all of them have managed to take important steps forward on the long but rewarding journey of entrepreneurship, and I can’t wait for you all to see what they will be presenting to you tonight.”

With additional words from fellow organiser Alfonso Gutierrez noting the importance of the support mentors for the growth of the teams, and experienced entrepreneurship programme professional Sam Laakkonen explaining how the world needed ambitious entrepreneurs like the ones now graduating from Biosphere to solve important sustainability challenges, the show got on the way.

On the agenda? A friendly yet serious pitching competition with entries from 8 of the 13 Biosphere 2 teams, all competing for the grand prize consisting of an all-expenses-paid ticket to the German NØRD start-up conference, a 3-month membership to the Epicenter Helsinki Innovation Hub, and the opportunity to pitch the next day to a visiting international VC.

Pitching Innovative Solutions to Sustainability Problems

One after the other, the teams got up on stage to present their burgeoning businesses to the jury – Biosphere mentors Aline Santa Izabel, Natalie Skvortsova, and Júlio Pinho – and the assembled audience in general, with solutions ranging from Invisible Cottage’s moveable and unintrusive homes that can be inserted in the heart of nature to help people reconnect with the environment, to Urban Green Carbon’s platform promoting city-centric carbon sinks to help with carbon removal.

Speaking in between pitches, Mari Sandell, Vice-Dean for Innovations for the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, said that she was impressed by the teams’ pitches, adding with a laugh that her favourite was “obviously the one from our faculty,” referring to team DP-tec. Led by Wenzi Ren, a University Doctoral Researcher in forest pathology and AI expert & PhD Shushu Liu, the team is leveraging Ren’s research and working on a solution to help forest owners monitor the health of their holdings and fight encroaching pathogens.

Another biased attendee for the evening was Biosphere mentor and experienced innovation professional Thais Glod, who spoke highly of her mentees, team Paahtu, led by Bahez Karim, Meryem Capkan, Minnamari Kuusisto, and Shanya Sarkawt, who developed an alternative to firewood using used coffee grounds, which the team says burn easier, longer, and cleaner than regular firewood. “I’m super happy with my team!” Glod exclaimed, before continuing: “They made really good progress during Biosphere. They were focused, they developed their idea, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from now.”

But when all was said and done, the jury returned with one clear winner for the competition. Speaking on behalf of the jury, judge and mentor Pinho prefaced the jury’s decision with encouragement to the whole Biosphere cohort. “You all brought your passion tonight, and you should all be proud,” he said with genuine kindness in his tone.

Winning With Satellites

“However, only one team can be chosen as the winner, and for us, the winning team was innovative: it tried to be future proof with a good strategy. It also displayed real impact potential and was in line with current trends,” Pinho explained, before revealing the winners of the Biosphere 2 demo day pitching competition: Team Lensor.

The team, co-founded by Lisa Theman, University of Helsinki M.Sc. Student in Theoretical Computational Methods, Ayush Prasad, and Lisa Ulvila won the competition with their innovative solution using satellite imaging to help farmers apply nitrogen fertilisers more accurately according to real-time needs – with a working MVP on display at the demo day itself.

With their solution, Theman explained during her pitch, farmers can reduce the amount of fertiliser used by making sure that they apply only the needed amounts in the parts of the field that really need it, saving the farmers money, while also helping to protect the environment from the harms of overfertilisation. Farmers, she said, had been impressed with what Lensor’s technology could do, saying that this kind of solution was exactly what they needed. Small wonder, then, that Lensor’s pitch included the impressive declaration that they already had their first paying customers.

Asked how it felt to have won the competition, Lensor Co-Founder Prasad summarised the experience in one word: “exciting!”

“Biosphere was great for us,” Prasad continued, “it helped us get the structure we needed to develop this to this stage, it helped our team grow, and for me personally coming with a non-business background, it helped me understand the commercial side of things, get used to the business and development pipeline.” He also added that the ticket to NØRD created a very interesting opportunity for the team, as Germany is one of the markets that they envision their solution being good for.

Their mentors were also delighted to see the team succeed. Mentor Peik Stenlund expressed his delight at the team’s journey so far having been so successful: “They were bravely exploring, thinking about all of the core things related to building a business and making great progress. All I did was give them some ideas and inputs, but they did all the hard work, and it’s showing off now!”

Third Round of Applications Open for Biosphere

While the second batch of Biosphere has just ended, Gensini, Gutierrez, and the Helsinki Incubators team as a whole are already looking towards the future with the upcoming third Biosphere batch, the call for which is currently open until 1 May.

Inviting applications from all brave thinkers, doers, and innovators in the fields of bioeconomy, circular economy, and sustainability, Biosphere 3 will offer another group of promising would-be entrepreneurs half a year of support, mentoring, and guidance to turn solutions into impactful ventures.

So, if you’re passionate about creating an impact and want to develop a solution that addresses one of the pressing sustainability issues of the world, be sure to check out our website for more information about Biosphere, and send in your application by 1 May!

More information

For inquiries regarding Biosphere or how to participate in the next batch, contact Pedro Gensini, Biosphere Programme Manager


For inquiries regarding mentoring or corporate partnerships with Biosphere, contact Alfosno Gutierrez, Senior Manager, Corporate Partenrships