On 3rd of December, a delegation of Indian journalists spent the day in Turku, learning about working and living in Southwest Finland. The group of five covered topics such as start-up development and collaboration and travel.
The visiting journalists were:
Rishab Mansur a journalist with Yourstory.com, a technology media company founded in 2008, which focuses on startups, entrepreneurs, investors and innovators.
Amit Singh, Founder and CEO of Headstart Network, one of India’s largest startup ecosystems development organizations.
Gunjan Sharma, Senior Correspondent for Press Trust of India (PTI). She mainly covers education, science and technology sectors and has written about how foreign universities engage Indians.
Hadric Contractor, a film and documentary maker
Srishti Chaudhary, a writer and freelance journalist. She has written for Asiaville News, BBC Travel, National Geographic, Traveler India, Mint Lounge, Vice India and Hindu Businessline.
Finnish education is the model
The first stop was Yli-Maaria International School and Kindergarten. Timo Haukioja, Project Coordinator for the City of Turku Education Administration, talked about the Finnish education and school system. And yes, he said Finnish schools do assign homework. The journalists were impressed by the importance of students’ involvement and participation in the planning of the school’s program.
– The Finnish education system has been reported on in India. Our system in currently being restructured and Finland is the model, said Srishti Chaudhary.
They then had lunch with City of Turku Communications Director, Saara Malila, who told them more about the city and its history. With goals set to be attained by 2029, Turku’s 800th birthday, the city is making investments related to sustainable and efficient urban transport and complete carbon neutrality. In business, Turku is a pioneer in Big Data, robotics and the pharmaceutical research and development, as well as bio- and circular economy solutions.
Sustainable business, sustainable talent
After lunch, the group met representatives from innovative local companies that have connections to India. Clewer CEO Jouni Laine shared the different waste treatment processes they offer. Clewer’s systems use bacteria and nutrient technology in their wastewater reactors, which are custom built and meant to treat the water on-site.
– We are very clueless about the water crises that are happening all over the world, but we will eventually see it here too. Our kind of solutions are needed, and I see some hope in the future because our children’s generation places much more value in changing their behavior for the better of the environment, Laine said.
Next was Timo Teimonen, CEO of Aqsens Health. The preventative health screening company got a start at the University of Turku’s Laboratory of Biophysics. They focus on screening a variety of cancers and inflammatory bowel diseases.
– We have managed to establish the cooperation with the Indian Health Authority, and it has been excellent. Our testing is the most cost efficient on the market, and this is needed to be affordable in India. We have since combined our non-invasive testing with machine learning to better detect the smallest metabolic changes, Teimonen said.
The final presentation was by Natasha Skult, founder of MiTale, a gaming development company and Chairperson of the International Game Developers Association of Finland. She shared her story of developing a game related to speech therapy and then branching out to making custom augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) programs for local companies. She stressed the importance of keeping the quality of their products and to ensure the quality, the expertise and motivation of the workers. In the Talent Boost Summit, the gaming industry in Finland got high marks for its diverse workforce.
Both Rishab and Amit said they enjoyed the visit and got valuable information.
– I see many possibilities for synergies between Indian and Finnish start-ups, Rishab said. He was aware of Turku Science Park’s Maritime Accelerator and the collaborations between Meyer Turku and Indian power plant QiO. The goal of the partnership is to leverage QiO’s power plan optimisation expertise in Meyer product development.
In the evening, the journalists met local Indian talents at the restaurant Pinella. A researcher from Åbo Akademi, two “graduates” of Turku Science Park Oy’s BusinessUp startup program and an account manager with software company Vaadin were invited. Story telling is important, Srishti says. I am sure many can identify themselves with the stories of the Indian startups in Turku. Others agree that Indians are good to adopt because of their diverse cultural and language background. Even to the gloomy Finnish November.
The event was organized by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The journalists then spent the next day in Helsinki before returning home.