Dec 1-2, 2021
Slush, the largest startup event in Scandinavia, held for the first time in two years.
Slush," the largest startup event in Scandinavia, was held in Helsinki, Finland, on the 1st and 2nd of December. This was the first time the event was held in two years, as the previous year's event was canceled due to the new coronavirus disaster. Although the overall number of visitors was reduced to 8,800, about one-third of the previous event, as a measure to prevent infection, the event was attended by startup founders (about 3,200 people) and investors (1,700 people) who had been looking forward to face-to-face business meetings, as well as students and volunteers who could become the next generation of entrepreneurs. The venue was filled with even greater enthusiasm than in the previous years.
In addition to startups from European countries, leading local universities such as the University of Helsinki and Aalto University exhibited their products and technology seeds in a wide range of fields, including SaaS (software as a service), drones, mobility, sustainability, security, and quantum computing. The fields covered were diverse. Among these, the medical/healthtech field attracted the most attention throughout the show. The finalists in the "Slush 100" pitch competition held during the exhibition were all companies in this field, including Vitroscope, who are developing a device that enables cell cultivation and observation under near-in vivo conditions, Hormona, who are developing an app to measure hormone balance in women, and Helppy, who are developing apps to manage helper tasks, chores, and household finances. After the final pitch held on the second day, Hormona won the grand prize. Among large companies, British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca exhibited a large booth, where startup collaborators from Japan and other regions of the company participated, actively searching for startups with which to collaborate.
The main stage with an elaborate speaker on stage (photo by JETRO)
JETRO exhibits at the Japan booth under the theme of sustainable fashion
Aiming to promote business collaboration between Japan and Scandinavia, JETRO exhibited a Japan booth with two Japanese startups related to sustainable fashion, which is of great interest in Scandinavia. Mr. Motoi Suzuki, CEO of hap, a developer of comfortable and multifunctional smart wear, commented after participating in the event, "I strongly felt the eagerness of both the challengers and the supporters, who are not afraid of failure. In Japan, there are few opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to gather, so it was very meaningful to participate in this kind of event.” Mr. Jun Kamei, CEO of Amphibio, a developer of recyclable waterproof and breathable textiles, commented, "The management team and volunteers at Slush were interested in our technology, and I saw firsthand that the sustainability theme was more appealing to Generation Y-Z*. The two companies have been working with foreign investors and apparel manufacturers to develop new products and services. Both companies also obtained contacts with potential collaboration partners, including foreign investors and apparel brands, and plan to continue business negotiations.
Hap's products on display at the Japan booth (photo by JETRO)
Amphibio's product exhibition in Japan booth (photo by JETRO)
The organizers of Slush have set "helping entrepreneurs who change the world" as the guiding principle of the event, and Slush will continue to be an opportunity for Japanese startups, especially those in the early stages of their establishment that aim to solve social issues, to gain much inspiration and networking.
* Generation Y was born roughly from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. Generation Z refers to the generation born between the mid-1990s and the end of the 2000s.