The first Smart Technology Hub Ecosystem Challenge (STHEC) was held on 12.-13.11.2019 at Wasa Innovation Center in Vaasa. In the two-day innovation challenge students from universities and universities of applied sciences had the chance to prove their abilities in solving different real-life challenges provided by Wärtsilä and partners City of Vaasa, Vaasan Sähkö, University of Vaasa and Danfoss.
The themes for the challenges were:
- Co-creation spaces from a student perspective in terms of Wärtsilä´s new facilities
- Utilising data to understand customer needs
- Sweet spots for start-ups – making the best out of empty facilities in Vaasa
- Integrating new talents to Innovation networks
- Vibrant and Viable Vaasa – Keeping a middle-sized city alive
- Carbon footprint awareness
The teams competed for the main prize which was guaranteed summer jobs and a face to face meeting with Wärtsilä Finland’s managing director Vesa Riihimäki. The teams were also awarded in other categories which included best use of ecosystem, best pitch, best team spirit and a news challenge.
Around 80 students were divided into 15 teams that had two days to come up with a solution to a challenge that was given to them. The two-day team work culminated into a shark tank where the teams gave three-minute pitches about their solution to the sharks who were representatives from Wärtsilä and each of the partners. Every team gave excellent pitches with imaginative solutions to the challenges. The sharks gave good feedback about the solutions but also challenged the teams to deepen their vision and give a more concrete and focused solution to the challenges.
The winning team utilized the ecosystem well
The winning team consisted of four students from University of Vaasa, Vaasa University of Applied Sciences and Hanken School of Economics: Rathan Kumar Alagirisamy, Maria Piterskova, Emil Nyby and Resmija Isabella Tefilovik. Their challenge was to find a solution on how to make the best out of empty facilities in Vaasa from the point of view of start-ups. The team came up with an app called EcoSisu that was created to match empty facilities with start-up companies in order to create a network and an ecosystem that provides value adding services and also welcomes external actors. The winners of STHEC were not only chosen for their solution, but the winning team also did well in all of the evaluated areas by using the ecosystem, having a great team spirit and presenting a pitch with good visuals and clear content.
STHEC was a success in every way. Every student had a chance to prove their potential and Wärtsilä alongside with the partners were provided with insights of future innovations. “STHEC is a great event for networking. It is a good opportunity to prove your skills in practice instead of sending out your CV to multiple companies”, said the members of the winning team. The event also changed the students’ vision of Wärtsilä. “We’ve learned that Wärtsilä is all about people. It’s about inspiring them and celebrating their innovations”, said the team members.