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Slush Day 1 takes off

Astronauts from Space Nation were just some of the visual delights at Slush.Roni Rekomaa

The biggest startup gathering in the Nordics hit another home run, with princes, government officials and bountiful buzz abound.

Things got off with a literal bang at this year’s Slush, with local hard techno star Huoratron setting the tone with a dazzling display of electro finesse as lasers sliced through the air of expectation.

Following a welcome by the Slush hierarchy and the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, focus shifted to former US Vice-President Al Gore, who took to the stage to underline mankind’s obligation to address climate change.

(left to right) Prince William, Sauli Niinistö, Prince Daniel and Supercell’s Ilkka Paananen listen to Al Gore. Image: Roni Rekomaa

“Must we change? Can we change? Will we change?” Gore bellowed.

Judging by the raucous reception from the crowd, which also included princes William from Britain and Daniel and from Sweden, that would be an overwhelming yes to all three questions.

Gathering together 2 600 startups, 1 500 venture capitalists, 600 journalists from over 130 countries and 2 400 volunteers, Slush 2017 continues to push the boat out into ever more innovative waters.

Here, punters rubbed shoulders with founders, investors and big names in their respective fields, along with J-Bear from Oulu’s Polar Bear Pitching and even astronauts from Space Nation.

Still among the stars, the European Space Agency (ESA) director general Jan Wörner was present, with the news that ESA, Aalto University and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment signed an agreement on establishing a business accelerator for space industry start-ups, according to a release from Aalto University.

Tackling all issues

Back on Planet Earth, the programme fanned out to encompass a wide range of issues. Blueprint Genetics CEO Tommi Lehtonen asked, “What is needed to drive personal genetics further?” Meanwhile, basking in the heat from the flames at the Fireside Stage, Brian Wong from Kiip was looking ahead to the moment the focus of “advertising changes from clicks to outcomes; true quality.”

J-Bear from Polar Bear Pitching was also on hand. Image: Roni Rekomaa

Once again, food was on many people’s minds. Flavours for all palates could be found, from cricket pizzas to the more traditional fare of homemade meatballs. As for what lies ahead, TheCurrent founder Liz Bacelar pondered, “Nine billion people in 2050 – we are screwed! How do we feed these people?”

Elsewhere, the focus was on different realities. Varjo CEO Urko Konttori spoke passionately of the fourth revolution of immersive computing, one where “we cannot tell apart the real and the virtual”.

Finally, amidst all the talk of grand ideas and future-thinking, the necessity of how to build a successful team was underlined. One important ingredient: diversity of people.

“If you look at Airbnb, it was two designers and a friend in computer science,” co-founder and CPO of Entrepreneur First, Alice Bentnik, explained. “You need a fairly wide range [of expertise].”

And so, as the crowd begins thinning out, heading to their respective after parties, Slush Day 2 awaits.

Alice Bentinck (right) was joined by Toby Coppel and Kat Manalac to discuss ways how best to create a world-conquering team. Image: Roni Rekomaa


By: James O’Sullivan