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Weekend Wrap

Slush 2021 through a lens

At Slush, it’s easy to forget you are in an exhibition centre.

Susanna Lehto

It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s time for Slush. This year the startup event, one of the world’s largest of its kind, was scaled down to meet COVID-19 requirements, but the venue was still buzzing with people, ideas and innovations. Take a look at some of our picks from the two days of startup extravaganza.

Slush has become renowned for its striking opening shows, and this year was no exception. The event's roughly 8 800 attendees - entrepreneurs, scientists, investors and professionals - were greeted with a spectacle of swirling lights, lasers and music. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

The success story now giving back. Five years ago, Aiven was a small startup finding its feet in the challenging space of cloud data. Now the company is valued at two billion US dollars and looks to help the next generation of startups. CEO Oskari Saarenmaa took the stage to launch Aiven’s new startup programme, Cluster, which gives young companies access to data infrastructure, support and expertise. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Growing human brains. A team of researchers at the University of Helsinki have grown a mini replica of the human brain from skin cells. It contains all key cell types and can be used for studying and developing various treatments. "Our primary focus is on improving the success rate of drug development for all brain diseases, including both psychiatric and neurological diseases," explained Meike Keuters. "Our mini-brain could be used to design personalised therapies for each patient." (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

How do you stand out in a tech event with hundreds of other companies? Make your product the entertainment. If you are Salo-based Osua, it’s easy. The startup has created a unique four-in-one social games table. “We haven’t really had a quiet moment,” laughed chief product officer Jouni Kuitunen. Osua’s social games target schools, company break rooms and elderly homes. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Student volunteers are the heart of Slush. Each year up to 2 000 European university students help to run the show, managing everything from cloakrooms to stages. They also bring passion, dedication and a lot of smiles. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a helicopter? Actually, it’s a little bit of all three. Lentola Logistics has designed and patented a miniature delivery aircraft that combines helicopter-like hovering with traditional plane flight aerodynamics and a 90-kilometre range. Lentola flew into Slush looking for partners and funding to commercialise its technology. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Tech innovation is typically focused on the young. Gubbe has taken a different route. Founded in 2018 by two entrepreneurs, the company has created a platform that connects the elderly and their families with students to assist with housework, transportation, technology and to help them stay active. “We are growing fast […] We already operate in Finland and in Sweden and are recruiting students in Denmark,” said co-founders Sandra Lounamaa and Meri-Tuuli Laaksonen. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Goodbye office, hello office pods. Finding a quiet space at Slush has never been easier, thanks to Vetrospace. It supplied 30 pods, which were scattered around the venue, each offering sound insulation and a patented air and surface purification system. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Packaging material safe enough to eat. FoamWood is a new bio-based material that can replace materials such as bubble wrap and styrofoam. It’s light, strong, easy-to-produce and edible. “If it’s safe enough to eat, it’s safe for the environment. The material biodegrades naturally and doesn’t need to be composted,” said Luisa Jannuzzi Fonseca (pictured on the right), a scientist in the research team developing the material. And protective packaging is just the start. Levi’s is already piloting the use of FoamWood in shoe insoles. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Heavy industries, lightweight cooling. Thermal Channel Technologies, a new spinoff from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has developed a lightweight and highly efficient cooling system. It improves the performance and durability of high-power electronics, such as e-car charging stations, smart grids and LED luminaires. “Heat causes over half of all breakdowns or failures in electronic products,” explained CEO Vesa Pentikäinen. “Our product removes heat more efficiently than existing solutions.” (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

Want to take some Slush with you? The event has developed its own collection of practical clothing, from hoodies to baseball caps. All the apparel was made from 100 per cent recycled textile waste in collaboration with PureWaste. (Photo: Susanna Lehto)

By: Eeva Haaramo