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Start Me Up business idea competition fuels success for international ventures – Seeking ideas again from February 1st


Media release January 25, 2024

From top-notch aerial imaging equipment floating in airships to food for luxury yachts, turning waste wood into charred building material, and groundbreaking X-ray technology – these are just a few concepts that have garnered success in the Business Joensuu Start Me Up competition, now in its 23rd edition.
The proposals submitted to the competition and winners from various categories in recent years have originated from diverse fields, connected by their innovation, sustainability, drive for success, and potential for international recognition.
- We take pride in the success stories that have emerged through the competition. Our goal is to attract researchers and research-based organizations seeking support in commercializing their research outputs. We are particularly looking for ideas that promote entrepreneurship in North Karelia and represent the future of business. However, participants can operate on both national and international levels, says Tomi Haring, CEO of Business Joensuu.

Last year, the competition received 257 approved ideas – 253 from Finland and 4 from abroad. The winning idea of the Business for Kitee series, Hiil Oy, has made significant strides forward.
- Our most significant advancement is the charring production line, with which we now produce applications of charred wood and Kiertopuu®️ products using circular economy principles to meet market demands, explains Joona Kotilainen, one of the company's founders.

Other successes from last year include ColdXray, which has developed technology enabling more compact and energy-efficient X-ray devices.
- We received crucial feedback from the competition to refine our business plans and goals. Interaction with potential investors and the startup community has also been significant. The prize has facilitated the establishment of the company and the filing of patent applications, says Petr Obraztsov, founder of ColdXray.

Start Me Up 2024 opens opportunities for new growth ventures in six categories

In addition to the main prize, this year's competition features five categories, with 27 partners involved. The main prize is worth €35,000, and other competition categories offer prizes ranging from €1,000 to €10,000. The competition period begins on February 1st, and the participation form must be submitted by March 31st. Afterward, Business Joensuu preselects up to 50 ideas from all submissions for the jury’s evaluation. The jury will assess the ideas during three panel days, and those selected to proceed will pitch their business idea proposals to the jury in a live event on April 17, 2024. The winners will be announced at the award gala on May 15.

Successful participants encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and those contemplating entrepreneurship to join. Antti Gavrilov of Nokiakka Oy, a producer of premium jams and drinks, considers the competition a crucial step for visibility and investments.
- We got our products into an international distribution channel, where high-quality food for luxury yachts is ordered. Our self-confidence has grown tremendously. I encourage participation; hesitation should not be a barrier.

Jouni Lintu of Kelluu Oy sees challenges and problems as creative opportunities, and the Start Me Up business idea competition offers a unique path to advance them.
- If you've identified a problem, don't hesitate to present your innovative idea. Solving challenges can bring significant value to both oneself and society.

For more information on the Start Me Up competition:

CEO Tomi Haring, Business Joensuu
0400 380 130,

Competition categories, terms and conditions, and partners:

For more information on previous winning companies:

ColdXray: Petr Obraztsov, 050 463 5749,
Hiil Oy: Miikka Kotilainen, 050 569 0581,
Joona Kotilainen, 050 569 0586,
Nokiakka Oy: Antti Gavrilov,  045 254 5006,
Kelluu Oy: Jouni Lintu, Lead Scientist, 040 777 0412,

The Business Joensuu Start Me Up business idea competition promotes entrepreneurial growth and a startup culture in North Karelia, with the aim of strengthening sustainable, internationally expanding businesses in the region. The competition welcomes everyone to participate – individuals, businesses, and research groups – locally, nationally, and internationally. It serves as a growth path and network as business ideas are developed into viable businesses. Collaboration with Business Joensuu, regional and national partners, and the North Karelian business community supports companies on their journey to success.

The competition period is from February 1 to March 31, 2024, and all business idea proposals compete for both the main prize and other attractive rewards in different categories.


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