Helsinki Challenge 2016-2017

We are meeting at a time of immense challenges to sustainable development. United Nations has introduced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to change our world. The objective of these 17 goals is to build a better future for all of us. These goals are universal and belong to us all: countries, cities, companies, schools, you and me. This is our common agenda.

To solve grand challenges we need multidisciplinary approaches, broad-minded thinking and bold boundary crossings. The science based competition and idea accelerator, Helsinki Challenge, is a platform for collaboration: science and arts communities, business, decision makers, public sector and other actors of the society – we all need to join the movement to make the goals for sustainable development reality. Through the Helsinki Challenge collaboration we can create solutions to grand challenges and for the future well-being – together!

Helsinki Challenge gathers the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under three following themes: Sustainable Planet, Urban Future and People in Change. Read more about the Helsinki Challenge themes here.

The Call

 In August 2016 Helsinki Challenge invited the science and art communities of the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki Challenge partner universities Hanken School of Economics, University of Eastern Finland, University of Jyväskylä, University of Oulu, University of the Arts Helsinki, University of Turku, University of Vaasa, Åbo Akademi University in collaboration with business, media, public sector, decision makers, alumni, associations, communities and other actors of the society to create solutions to grand challenges and future well-being.

The jury of the pre-qualification chose twenty teams to proceed to the Helsinki Challenge accelerator programme.

The Support

Helsinki Challenge process supports teams in a variety ways, by using multiple Finnish and international experts and tools. During the application process teams are supported in the Challenge Clinics where they will get advices for example in defining the challenge. In the theme based Clinics experts in funding, communication, community building, pitching will support teams to proceed. The Impact Camp was a two-day intensive co-creation session focusing on impact. Canvases (impact, community engagement and feasibility) and Helsinki Challenge work book are practical tools to support teams in developing their projects further. The Global Impact Camp will be a two-day intensive co-creation session focusing on funding and collaboration with EU decision makers. In addition, team focused coaching sessions will support finalists in the final stage of the accelerator programme.

The Matchmaking

Helsinki Challenge is all about interaction with different stakeholders. Around the team there is a strong and inspiring community as well as a network of supporters, mentors and advisors with needed expertise.

The teams are provided a series of matchmaking events like the kick off event the semifinal teams will meet each other and the Helsinki Challenge crew. Followed by the matchmaking events with tens of potential partners and stakeholders of the University of Helsinki and Helsinki Challenge partner universities. Continuing with several other events like SuomiAreena (decision makers) and Slush (start up community and investors).

The Pitch

It is not easy to get your message heard. Helsinki Challenge is also about storytelling. The goal is to create collaboration and partnerships, raise awareness and acquire more resources. And naturally, create an inspiring and convincing story for different purposes and target groups.

During the different stages of the accelerator programme teams will pitch their challenge and solution for multiple audiences and in several occasions. The programme includes several Pitch events and pitching in collaborators events.

The Impact

Helsinki Challenge is looking for solutions that will impact in society. Border crossing encounters generate new ideas, creativity and ability to make a difference in society. At the two-day Impact Camp the teams identified the societal benefit of the solution by measuring scale and probability of impact. During the accelerator programme teams will develop their solutions in collaboration with decision makers, media, investors, business, public sector, industry and other experts. The goal is to reach maximum impact.

The Award

The 375.000€ Helsinki Challenge Prize aims to spur science based ideas and innovations that has impact in society. The ultimate goal is to create solutions to grand challenges and for the future well-being. The evaluation criteria are as follows

  • originality
  • ​creativity
  • ​impact
  • solution focused
  • ​science based

The jury of the pre-qualification stage will choose semifinal teams and the jury of the final stage will first choose the finalists and then the winner/winners.The Helsinki Challenge culminates in November 2017 when a prize of 375,000 euros will be awarded to the winner/winners.