A valuable combination of networking and industry advice – The University of Helsinki researchers attend NORDEEP

At NORDEEP, the biggest deep tech event for the Nordics, University of Helsinki researchers were in attendance to gather insights for their path to commercialization and didn’t leave disappointed.

The researchers went to the event in October with two major questions they wanted to resolve: How do you get venture capitalists interested in your idea? What things should be considered when bringing promising innovations to the market?

Over two days, more than forty University of Helsinki teams participated in over five hundred meetings, so we were very keen to hear about their experiences and the insights gained.

Expanding networks while democratizing the carbon market

University of Helsinki doctoral researcher Michael Lee was delighted that science-based startups were a major presence at NORDEEP. He feels that the event is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to commercialize research results and create solutions that benefit society.

Lee presented his startup, Urban Green Carbon, which aims to develop a new digital carbon marketplace where urban vegetation can be used to offset carbon emissions. They also aim to democratize the carbon offset market by making it accessible to citizens.

“I wanted to share our idea and gain feedback on whether it would be viable from a business perspective. In addition, I was also using the event to network with industry partners and find potential collaborators from other disciplines,” Lee says.

During the two days, he got to talk with investors, industry experts, researchers, and people from incubator programs. He gained a lot of useful comments that his team will now utilize in developing their innovative digital marketplace.

“We are still at a very early stage, so we can easily change our approach to adjust to the market based on the insights we got,” he adds.

Positive feedback for an eco-friendly mineral fertilizer

Researcher Surendra Pradhan’s team has created the PNExt project (also known as 'Resource Pulling'), a research-based innovation that collects nitrogen and phosphorus from waste streams and converts them into a mineral fertilizer with a minimal carbon footprint.

As the team takes their first steps towards business opportunities, Pradhan attended NORDEEP to learn from other startups, “It is useful to talk to people who have already faced challenges and tackled them,” he says.

Pradhan also wanted VCs and angel investors’ feedback on his team’s idea. During the event, he exchanged thoughts with several NORDEEP participants, and while he says that the core idea of the PNExt project was well-received, the market to which he and his team are aiming needs to be better defined, “Once we have done that, the next step is to look for pre-seed funding.”

Pradhan highly recommends NORDEEP for researchers who want to test the potential of their innovation and learn how to take an application from a scientific laboratory to the market.

“One always likes one’s idea but doesn’t necessarily see the downsides of it. When you hear feedback from people that have more experience, it really opens your horizon.”

Rector takes a peek into the startup world

Tuomas Martikainen, Rector for the Swedish School of Social Science (Soc&kom), attended NORDEEP for the first time and was keen to take part and follow the discussions with an open mind.

“While the activity around innovating is interesting and exciting, we at Soc&kom are still considering our perspective in all of this. Having said that, we are taking our first steps towards commercializing research results,” Martikainen says.

He points out that these discussions are happening at a great time as the Finnish government intends to channel significant funding into research and business collaboration, “In the field of social sciences, research funding and partners have traditionally been found in the public sector.”

Martikainen believes that attending the event was of great value, and he now has some good tips to share with any research teams wanting to take that leap towards commercialization.

“It comes back to the university’s core duties, namely how to apply academic knowledge to the development of society but with new ideas and innovations. With this, coupled with more success stories emerging from campus, I see a lot more interest from researchers in following the commercialization path.”

NORDEEP took place at Dipoli in Espoo, on October 11-12, 2023. Be sure to follow the University of Helsinki and Helsinki Incubators on LinkedIn and X (formally known as Twitter) to get regular updates.

Read more about research innovations and collaboration at the University of Helsinki: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/innovations-and-cooperation/innovations-and-entrepreneurship