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NewsPage 24.02.2020

The first Science Startup Day brought together researchers and investors

Business Finland’s renewed Research to Business service invests in encounters: At Science Startup Day, investors are looking for top Finnish talents and deep technology startups sought help for commercialization. The first national Science Startup Day was organized in early February.

Researcher Saara Rissanen, Ph.D., together with her team has developed an analysis method for monitoring Parkinson's disease. The idea behind the method is based on research that was started over a decade ago. A few years ago, Rissanen's team started to prepare the commercialization of their idea with Business Finland's support. Now, the Adamant Health startup founded by researchers is looking for partners and funding in order to start their business operations.

- We met many investors at Science Startup Day and got feedback we can use to develop our business plan further. Networking events open a dialogue with investors, after which the discussions continue and get deeper – researchers and investors grow together, in a way, describes Rissanen.

Research Fellow Isabella Norrbo also participated in Science Startup Day to network.

- Our team is researching an alternative material for x-ray imaging plates. The material that we are researching is more environmentally friendly and cheaper than the plates that are currently used and end up as hazardous waste, says Norrbo.

The preparations for the commercialization of the idea created by Norrbo's team are still in the early stages, so she says that in addition to a few interested investors, the event has given her many tips and advice from more experienced companies that are further on in their development.

Investors want to get to know researcher teams early on

Voima Ventures is a Finnish business that invests in deep technology growth companies, and they participated in Science Startup Day as both an organizer and an investor. Inka Mero, Founder of Voima Ventures and startup investor, emphasizes that networking events like Science Startup Day promote deep tech projects growing into an ecosystem of their own in Finland, as has happened with the software industry.

It's useful for an investor that networking events are organized on a nationwide scale. This means that investors can find the best talents in Finland.

Mero emphasizes that the journey from the first business development project into a growth company is long. That's why it's important for an investor to get to know the teams early on and see how they develop.

- The first pitches are about creating trust. Investors are looking for assurance that the team can deliver what they promise. We are happy to participate in business projects as an advisor and help teams before the actual investment decision, says Mero.

At Science Startup Day, the teams presented 18 pitches in all. Mero thinks that three of them were very interesting.

- In a year or 18 months, we'll probably get involved in one of these, estimates Mero.

Researcher, convince your investor – three steps to a successful pitch:
1.Describe the problem you are trying to solve and the opportunity very clearly.
2.Explain the competitive advantage added by the science perspective.
3.Present your team and what you are planning to do next. Pass on ambition in your story!
The tips were given by Inka Mero, startup investor and Founder of Voima Ventures.

Research to Business promotes networking and increases project efficiency

Jaana RantanenAt the beginning of 2020, the previous New business from research ideas (TUTLI) funding changed into the new Research to Business service.

One focus point of the renewed service is now networking.

- At Science Startup Day, we expanded our idea of networking: in addition to researchers and investors, meetings included people who were interested in joining companies in their first stages. We also organize theme-specific events with an introduction where research teams can share their experiences with people working on similar topics, says Jaana Rantanen, Product Manager of the Research to Business service at Business Finland.

In addition, project monitoring has also been renewed.

- Now, more concrete intermediate and final objectives are set for the Research to Business projects, and the realization of the objectives is tracked in the project's steering group as well as at Business Finland. The results affect whether the funding will be continued regardless of whether the funding has been granted at once for the entire project or only the starting phase. This will promote furthering the projects, says Rantanen.

Rantanen says that Business Finland's funding aimed at preparing commercialization has steered the thoughts of many researchers towards business operations.

- Researchers are motivated by the idea of utilizing their research in business. As the Research to Business project prepares for the commercialization of the idea, the researcher's own business-related competence increases, which may lead to founding a startup, for instance, says Rantanen.

- Business Finland is the only funder in Finland that brings researchers towards commercialization. But in addition to money, you also need internal support services in research organizations. Without this cooperation, many research results would never be commercialized, continues Rantanen.

With the Research to Business funding, a public research organization can prepare the commercialization of a research-based idea and engage in research that supports commercialization. The main goal is preparing for commercialization. Business Finland can fund up to 70 per cent of the approved total costs. Two research funding rounds are organized a year, in spring and autumn. Read more

Business Finland organized the first Science Startup Day event in cooperation with investors (Wave, Ventures, Voima Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, Nordic FoodTech VC) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Aalto University.

Text: Kaiku Helsinki
Photos: Aamumehu