Apply for Germinator
Call for the second batch of Germinator pre-incubator programme and pitching event at Y Science / Slush 2022-2023 closed at the beginning of June 2022. New teams for the 2022-2023 programme season have been selected! Next call to be opened in spring 2023.
Second Germinator call

The second Germinator call closed at the beginning of 2022, below you can find the call information. Selected teams to be published by the end of June!

We look for motivated innovator teams with potential food system transforming solutions

What we mean by…


  • You and your team (2-5 people) are dedicated to putting in the effort needed for advancing your solution towards what it takes to become a viable and lucrative case for business creation.
  • App. 19 workshops (½ day) in 8 months + “homework” : You and your team are able to dedicate minimum 100 h of work during the programme. Workshops are usually in the afternoons. Note that some workshops and events are on-site only in Helsinki.
  • You are able and prepared to deliver the pitch for the Y Science Slush 2022 official side event on the 16th of Nov. 2022 at Slush if your team is selected for pitching (no need for Slush tickets at Y Science 2022 event).

Food system transforming solutions:

  • Innovative, new to the market solutions that clearly solve a current issue in a viable manner in the food system without compromising the diverse key requirements of food system sustainability
  • The key requirements of food system sustainability are:

What do we offer you as a selected team

Coaching by dedicated food innovation professionals with expansive experience in the field:

  • Viikki Food Design Factory: Reetta Kivelä (food technology, R&D, enterpreneurship, IPR)
  • Viikki Food Design Factory: Laura Forsman (user and customer insight & testing, market evaluation, product & service concepting, brand building)
  • Professors: e.g. bioproduction chemistry, food safety, taste experience, agrotechnology, regulation and claiming, LCA & other sustainability matters
  • Expert(s) and professionals related to your specific need (pitching, financing instruments, IPR, agritech, foodtech)

Laboratory experimentation and testing facilities at the Viikki campus

  • Pilot size process facilities for wide range of conventional food processes and techniques
  • Facilities for specific chemical, physicochemical or physical equipment ands sensory testing when special needs

Pitching and networking opportunity at the Y Science, an official Slush side event

  • Audience of possible investors, business professionals and relevant partners for your solution
  • Networking with potential partners and experts in the fields relevant to your solution

⇒ Max. 7 teams will be selected, max. 4 will get to pitch at Y-Science. All teams pitch at Germinator Demo Day.

Application instructions
  • Fill in the form at the 'Apply here' link below on 1st of June 2022 by 9.00 am (EEST).
  • Add as attachment to the application form a one-slide public summary of your idea and team as a powerpoint or pdf file, see the descriptions on Germinator teams 2021-2022 page  on what to include in the slide. The public summary slide will be shared with the entry pitching jury and contents used when publishing the selected teams.
  • Max 15 teams will be selected to pitch for the jury consisting of the experts in the field and the Germinator sponsor-mentor companies' representatives (see jury members below). The entry pitching will be held remotely by Zoom on 13th of June between 14.00 and 18.00, each team will have 5 minutes to pitch.
  • If you have any questions, contact Laura Forsman ( regarding application criteria, programme and collaborations, Tiia Pelkonen ( regarding practical arrangements or on anything related to the call or Germinator.
VFDF Germinator programme schedule 2022-2023
Entry pitching jury
  • Harri Latva-Mäenpää, Innovation Director, Foodwest (sponsor-mentor representative) 
  • Nina Tuomikangas, Project Manager Innovation, Lantmännen (sponsor-mentor representative) 
  • Antti Isokangas, Leipurin (sponsor-mentor representative)
  • Heli Töykkälä, New Business Manager, Raisio (sponsor-mentor representative) 
  • Harri Kallionen, Senior Vice President, Research and development, Valio (sponsor-mentor representative) 
  • Juha Heinola, Ecosystem Lead, Business Finland 
  • Jouni Lounasmaa, startup and ecosystem leader with over 15 years of experience with startups as a co-founder, board member, CFO, and coach. 
  • Silvia Gaiani, Senior Researcher in Innovation and Entrepreneurship towards Sustainable Food Systems, Ruralia Institute, University of Helsinki
  • Maija Tenkanen, professor, Bioproduction chemistry, University of Helsinki 
  • Marko Berg, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, University of Helsinki 
  • Amanda Paananen, Business Development Officer, University of Helsinki 
  • Reetta Kivelä, Professor of Practice, Viikki Food Design Factory, University of Helsinki & CIO, Nordic Umami Company
  • Laura Forsman, Manager, Viikki Food Design Factory  

Average score for the programme 4,4/5

  • Delivering over or according to expectations on
  • Food and agri sector understanding
  • Coaching support from sector specialists
  • Building network into the food sector
  • Match-making with mentors
  • Pitching experience

Feedback measurement in Jan. 2022

Germinator batch #1 feedback

The most valuable learnings and/or benefits for you and your team in the programme:

- Hands-on guidance and mentoring with real concrete insight from industry on how to build food business case. Not just theoretical lectures from people who have never worked in the industry. Networking ability and sharing experiences / progress with other teams.

- I really enjoyed the workshops because it sparked up very fruitful conversation and brainstorming. Also it was a great opportunity to pitch on the big stage and to get new contacts. I also liked to the fact that each time the teams had to challenge themselves and present their ideas and business plans to the whole group and I think this benefited everyone. Presenting early-stage plans to the whole group is for sure hard work and stressful but I think that this is an excellent way to push people out of the comfort zone and develop communication skills and to get feedback! I also liked the presentations from the mentors and how it was structured and it was also great to hear real-life-experiences from the coaches and mentors.

- Learning to understand the start-up ecosystem.

- Definitely sparring from the mentors and coffee break discussions. Thank you! Also networking opportunities during Slush was extremely valuable.

- All the teams share the common concept of food, but all have different angles. The common theme makes it easy to share thoughts and ideas, as we have sort of similar take on things, so to say. The sessions we've had have been helpful to get a wider perspective and learn about "business things", that are perhaps not so familiar to scientists. Learning about what investors are looking for and learning about financing options are valuable.

- The insight on the vision of investors and companies in FoodTech area gave the understanding on the current state-of-art and the needs. It helps greatly in working out a selling strategy.