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The Start Me Up business idea competition, which promotes North Karelian entrepreneurship and future business, ended on March 31, 2023, raising an almost record number of ideas. By the deadline, 257 approved proposals had arrived and were comprehensively from individuals, students, companies, entrepreneurs, and researchers from Finland and abroad. The number of high-level proposals exceeded our goal and is the second-largest result in the competition's history.
The competition and its prize series implemented with our cooperation partners enable the introduction and development of versatile ideas for new products, services, methods of operation, concepts, inventions and research-based innovations into sustainable business activities in North Karelia.
- The number and spectrum of ideas and the geographical extent of the participants clearly indicate the importance of the Start Me Up competition as a long-term growth environment to develop, finance and implement ideas, which is perceived as an attractive accelerator of business activity. The attractiveness of the competition continues to grow among North Karelia residents and nationwide. A record-breaking set of prizes exceeding €160,000, consisting of a grand prize of €132,500 and other prize series, certainly encouraged the developers of ideas to bring out their outputs and inventions in creating new businesses. In addition, we are pleased that this year Start Me Up has reached even more participants from all over Finland, but also from India, Peru, Vietnam, Poland and Japan, sums up business coach Janne Pakarinen.
47 selected idea proposals continue to be assessed by the jury
- From 257 business ideas proposals, we chose 47 such ideas for further submission to the competition jury, which are high quality and carefully thought out. In Start Me Up, the idea's novelty value, feasibility, commercialization, profitability, business growth, and internationalization potential are the focus of the evaluation. We also look at the full implementation of the idea from the customer's point of view. Is a real customer need to be identified to solve the customer's problem better, more efficiently or in a new way than perhaps an existing solution on the market? Or does the business idea open up an entirely new market, Kirsi Svärd, Kari Pulkkinen, and Janne Pakarinen say.
The competition working group will contact all participants who have progressed to the next round by week 15.
On the first day of the jury panel, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, the jury will focus on the selected 47 competition proposals, of which about half will be selected to continue.
On the second day of the panel, Wednesday, April 19, 2023, the remaining candidates will pitch their proposals to the jury, and 8 to 10 ideas will be selected for the third panel held on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, for the finals to compete for the main prize as well as for prizes of the other categories.
By the end of the third day of the panel, the jury will select the winners of the competition categories.
The Start Me Up competition jury members are Jyrki Saarinen, Professor of Photonics at the University of Eastern Finland, Heikki Immonen, Dr., Principal Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at Karelia University of Applied Sciences, Sanna Lappalainen, Project Specialist at Riveria, Antti Wikman, COO at Nolwenture Oy, Pekka Lemettinen, CEO, Board Professional and Investor Finnish P&C Insurance at POP Bank Group, Kaj Hagros, Managing Partner at North Karelia Growth Fund, Antti Pölönen, Head of Accounting at Northern Karelia Cooperative Society (PKO), and Mika Hyttinen, CEO at Lipertek Oy. Business Joensuu CEO Tomi Haring is the board's chairman for the competition jury.
Announcing the winners at the Award Gala on May 24, 2023
The Start Me Up business idea competition culminates in the announcement and awarding of the winners in the Award Gala on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Joensuu Science Park. The keynote speaker at the award gala is CEO Antti Vasara, VTT. The event is open to everyone, but pre-registration is required.
The competition has six categories
All business idea proposals are in the running for the main prize of €132,500 and can also be awarded in other award categories: Student, Business for Kitee and Liperi series, Research-based business idea, Modern Karelian trade and service in the new commercial building at Joensuu Marketplace.
The student category winners are rewarded by the University of Eastern Finland, Karelia University of Applied Sciences and Riveria.
In addition, in the Best Pitch series, the most convincing sales pitch is sought, which will be rewarded with €1,000. An open-to-all Best Pitch competition will be organised, on May 24, 2023, as part of the Award Gala. The Business Joensuu Start Me Up working group will preselect the top 10 pre-registered participants for the final pitching competition. At the award gala, finalists present their pitches to the jury and the audience. The pitch can last 3 minutes, after which the jury has the opportunity to ask further questions for 5 minutes.