Turku University organises innovation camp for air quality startup in Turku

During the past few years Turku university has been developing a more entrepreneurial focus. Kasvupajat.fi is one of the projects combining the extensive expertise of the region’s higher education institutions to meet the needs of different industries in ways that benefit everyone: companies, teachers, researchers, students and other people.

Kasvunpajat.fi is an interregional initiative in Finland, and aims to bring together growth companies with graduating students and university-educated unemployed. This initiative is funded by the European Union’s 6Aika Program, and the City of Tampere is the main actor. It started in September 2016 and will continue until the of December 2018, and founded by the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Turku University, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Turku Science Park Oy and Metropolia Polytechnic.

“We believe the best way to help local growth companies is to show them the talent that is available and help them solve their initial growth problems by applying an innovation process” explains Antti Tuomisto, lecturer and project leader for Kasvupajat.fi at the University of Turku.

“Innovation camps allow participants to interact with companies and work on real-world problems and show their skills” continues Tuomisto, “we approached UrbanZee as they have global growth ambitions and could benefit from access to local talent”.

UrbanZee is a young startup and alumni of the Turku Business region BusinessUp accelerator, and is focussed on addressing the global problem of air pollution. A problem that, according to the World Health Organisatio, is affecting 92% of the world population.

“Our focus is on measuring the air quality of entire cities in detail and developing a platform for air quality information and lasting change”, explains Aschwin van der Woude CEO of UrbanZee, “already during our discussions with the Kasvupajat team did we evolve our thinking, and we are keen to see how their innovation camp will help us make a further leap”.

UrbanZee’s platform aims to enable concerned citizens of polluted cities to collaborate with other citizens, companies and local governments, and form “hack the city” communities to find solutions to local air pollution problems. Crowdfunding will be one of the tools available to jointly afford lasting solutions.

The two week long innovation camp organised during May 2018. In addition to good experience and potential credits for all participants, the best team will be rewarded with an escape room experience kindly provided by local CLU TKU (clutku.fi). During the camp participants will be challenged to find innovative ways to make UrbanZee’s platform approach work in the wildly varying localities around the world.

“For this particular challenge we hope to find a strong mix of Finnish and international students, and other people interested in participating in this important and interesting problem. Globally, the topic is very important and even alarming in the larger cities of China and India. It is time to find innovative solutions to help create change”, concludes Tuomisto.