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The Start Me Up 2024 business idea competition received 168 proposals

Start Me Up 2024 business idea competition_Business Joensuu

This year, the Start Me Up business idea competition received 168 accepted proposals, with the aim of discovering and supporting new growth entrepreneurs and startups. After the initial screening by Business Joensuu, 32 proposals will advance to the first round of judging by the jury, competing for the €35,000 main prize. Furthermore, many intriguing ideas were submitted in other categories, which will also undergo evaluation and the selection of winners within their respective categories.

The Start Me Up business idea competition is a nationwide competition that encourages the emergence of new innovations, growth entrepreneurs, and startup companies. Business Joensuu, along with its partners, provides support, coaching, and expert services to help competitors develop, launch, and grow their businesses, partly or entirely located in North Karelia. Participation in the competition provides a pathway to visibility, business development, and commercialization, offering opportunities for sustainable business both domestically and internationally.

The competition attracted participants from across Finland, and we also received some ideas from abroad, such as from Germany. We particularly appreciate the active participation of international students from the Joensuu region and other university cities. The competition entries also reflect the utilization of AI in the groundwork of business ideas, which is permitted by the competition rules. However, it is important to note that according to the rules, the business idea must be based on the competitor's own research and idea development, not solely on suggestions from AI.

- The diversity of idea proposals made an impression. Additionally, some of the ideas are exceptionally well thought out and developed, while others still require refinement. That's what the Start Me Up competition is about – we aim to gather business ideas and concepts independent of industries with implementation and market potential to start businesses in North Karelia, explain Kari Pulkkinen and Heli Saario, business coaches from Business Joensuu responsible for the competition's working group and preliminary screening.

The competition offers a main prize and five prize categories

Idea proposals come from various sources, including individuals, companies, and researchers. Participants had the opportunity to enter multiple categories, and active participation was seen in all categories:

  • 49 ideas were submitted to the Climate-smartness from Joensuu category
  • 70 ideas were submitted to the ICT Innovator category
  • 60 ideas were submitted to the Research-based business idea category
  • A total of 40 ideas were submitted to the Business for Joensuu region municipalities category: Heinävesi 6, Ilomantsi 8, Kitee 4, Liperi 16, Outokumpu 3, Polvijärvi 1, Rääkkylä 1, Tohmajärvi 2.
  • A total of 41 ideas were submitted to the student category, where the University of Eastern Finland (16 ideas), Karelia University of Applied Sciences (10 ideas), and Riveria Vocational College (15 ideas) evaluated business ideas or business concepts from their own students, and the winners will be selected by these institutions.

The competition progresses swiftly towards the Award Gala

The first jury's evaluation day is on Tuesday, April 9, where they will delve into the 32 preselected proposals. From these, 15–20 proposals will be selected to the second judging day on Thursday, April 18, to pitch their business ideas to the jury. From the pitching day, 8–10 ideas will be selected to the third evaluation day on Wednesday, April 24, where the jury will choose the winner of the main prize and confirm the winners of other categories. The Start Me Up jury comprises experts from various fields.

The competition culminates in the announcement of the winners at the Award Gala on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, from 14:00 to 18:00. The event will feature Riikka Pakarinen, the Chairperson of the Finnish startup community, as the keynote speaker. The event provides an opportunity to network and celebrate the competition winners. Everyone is welcome to attend the Award Gala, which is a free event but requires registration by May 10. More information about the program and registration can be found here.

Partners of Start Me Up 2024 business idea competition:


For more information:

Assessment and progress of the Start Me Up competition:

Kari Pulkkinen, Fund Manager & Growth Coach
+358 50 406 8716

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