This spring I got an intriguing email, from the University of Helsinki, inviting me to be a jurist for a sustainability focused competition. I have recently heard about “the Nordic model” and was most certainly interested in experiencing firsthand. (Iceland was the only country to jail their bankers after the 2009 financial collapse, Norway’s prisons focus on actually rehabilitating criminals, with the best results in the world, Denmark was named “happiest country” and Finland has “the best educational system in the world.”)
The two pitch nights, June 6th and 7th, were each preceded by a cocktail hour networking event where I got to meet some of the other judges and contestants. Speeches were given, I was asked to introduce myself, and waving my champagne glass about, found myself apologizing for my country’s recent reversal on climate change policy. But, they said I “brought the winds of Silicon Valley” with me! (My business is in Southern California, but hey, close enough!)
From over 200 entries, the 20 semi-finalists, who pitched their ideas to an international audience were to be culled to 7 finalists, who have a chance to win the 375 K Euro first prize this coming November, 2017, also coinciding with Finland’s 100 year celebration of independence from Russia.
Investors should take note, as among the 20 semi-finalists were solutions that have far-reaching implications for creating cheap, ubiquitous, clean energy, world health challenges, and the elimination of poverty and human suffering globally. Several of the solutions are close to market-ready, with some of the teams already attracting investors and strategic partners.
Stay tuned for our next post about some of my favorite entrants!