The Finland 100 jubilee year brings Finnish universities together to change the world

Twenty teams have been chosen to solve the grand challenges of our time in Helsinki Challenge, the science-based idea competition. The teams will tackle the UN’s sustainable development goals and create solutions for, among others, the loneliness of young urban people, aging, malaria and cancer treatment.

Helsinki Challenge, the science-based idea competition, brings Finnish universities together and advances multidisciplinary collaboration for the benefit of the whole world. Twenty researcher-lead teams were chosen to the competition’s semi-finals. These teams will develop solutions in cooperation with businesses, organisational actors, decision makers and representatives of the media and public sector. Helsinki Challenge culminates in the award ceremony in November 2017 where the winning team will receive a prize of 375.000 euros. It is meant for the implementation of the solution.

Teams tackle global challenges with strong scientific know-how

This year Helsinki Challenge has three main themes based on the UN’s sustainable development goals that the teams took into consideration while coming up with their solution proposals. A total of 110 teams applied for the competition, including 340 experts from Finnish universities and over 160 other organizations. Out of these the pre-qualification stage jury chose 20 semi-finalist teams for the accelerator programme. The ideas had to be science-based, solution-oriented, impactful, novel and creative to proceed to the semi-finals.

– The jury’s task was challenging. We are looking forward to seeing how the solutions will develop in the future. The competition proposals are founded in research and strong scientific expertise. The accelerator process might give rise to business, a new scientific field, a commercialisable idea, entrepreneurship or perhaps a scientific breakthrough. The direction is chosen by the team, the jury’s chairman Pekka Haavisto reminds us.

The accelerator collides experts of the scientific community and society

The semi-finalist teams include over 150 researchers and experts from Finnish universities, companies, organizations and public sector organizations. In addition to the scientific community, among others involved are the nanotechnology company Canatu, the City of Helsinki, the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland, the Natural Resources Institute Finland and Marimekko.

The semi-finalist teams participate in the accelerator programme that begins in January 2017. During the year-long programme the teams will develop their solutions, build networks, receive communication support and get the chance to collaborate.

– Today researchers are expected to engage in multidisciplinary collaboration that benefits society broadly. Helsinki Challenge is a platform for active interaction, cooperation and dialogue between different actors of the scientific community and society. This helps raise the impact of research, explains Helsinki Challenge project manager Ira Leväaho.

Helsinki Challenge is a collaborative effort of Finnish universities and is part of the Finland 100 jubilee year’s programme. The University of Helsinki organizes the competition together with the following universities: Aalto University, Hanken School of Economics, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Oulu, the University of the Arts Helsinki, the University of Turku, the University of Vaasa and Åbo Akademi University.

Get to know Helsinki Challenge’s semi-finalist teams

Team 3A Water: New on-site method for analysing very low metal concentrations in water

Team Catalyst Supreme: Making the world emission free with new catalyst materials

Team CoLearning CoPassion: We help students teach emotional skills to their younger peers

Team Dlearn.Helsinki: Our tools will make learning more interesting

Team EduRemix: Digitalization in education is an opportunity, not a threat

Team ELMO: Creating new ways of preventing malaria to save millions of lives

Team Energy Village 500: Starting an energy revolution with a network of self-sufficient areas

Team F-Factor: “We’re developing a Tinder for urbanisation”

Team FutuRena: Printed kidneys can change the future of organ transplants

Team HeatStock: Use summer’s heat during the winter

Team iCombine: “Our model could make cancer treatment more effective”

Team Ioncell: We’re developing a new type of fiber out of Finnish wood

Team Metabold: Analyzing the metabolism of the elderly will lead to more accurate nutrition and medication

Team Myonit: An underground x-ray can lead to the discovery of new natural resources

Team Parental Box: Mental maternity box secures the well-being of families

Team POCKit: We want to put the power of diagnostics in the hands of the patients

Team Pro Fibers: Finnish biomass keeps animals and forests healthy

Team Reconfigure Mobility: A network that makes traffic sustainable

Team Senior Cognitive Booster: Tackling elderly people’s cognitive challenges using virtual environments

Team Wave Farmers: Our sensing device would help sustain a healthy soil ecosystem


More information: Ira Leväaho, Helsinki Challenge Project Manager, University of Helsinki ‪, ‪050 5058152