Here They Are: Arctic15 Finalists

It's been a tough run up to the Arctic15 conference for startups competing for the chance to pitch on stage. The finalists have now been chosen by the secret jury and they are listed below. Close to 100 companies applied to the competition by the end of July and over the course of August 33 companies made the so called semi-finals and from those, 15 companies came out on top as finalists. The 15 finalists were chosen from video pitches the companies made. This is for two reasons. First, we wanted the companies to have good products and secondly, they would also have to be good in selling and explaining those products.

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Startup Sauna Keeps Getting Better

Editorial note: This is a guest post by Natalie Gaudet, who is one of the active people behind Startup Sauna - a Nordic and Baltic startup seed accelerator helping companies get further. While we don't usually promote individual programs as such, Startup Sauna is a great initiative, non-profit started by our good friends at AaltoES.

The Startup Sauna seed accelerator program is getting bigger and better. Since there has been an incredible response from Russia last year, the program decided to add three more Russian cities to the list. The number of coaches that will be mentoring the teams has also increased.

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How Startups Are Built In Tampere: Case Protomo & StartupStairs

Tampere is definitely one of Finland's start-up hubs, thanks to the New Factory. The entity was created in 2008 out of frustration with regional cooperation (or lack thereof). 'There was too much talk and paperwork going on between innovation programs and various institutions in the region', shares Jukka Matikainen, Program Director. 'We wanted to create sustainable cooperation between all those partners through concrete projects'. That is how the New Factory's programs were founded. Last time we reviewed Demola, an innovation platform for students and companies. This time in focus are New Factory's start-up oriented programs: Protomo and StartupStairs.

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A Cry From A Country In Structural Change

While this isn't exactly startup related news per se, it relates to entrepreneurship very closely. Furthermore, it's quite Finland centric, but I apologise for that, but I feel it applies to other countries in the region as well. Yesterday, one of the large paper machine companies in Finland, UPM-Kymmene, announced that it will shut down its Myllykoski factory in Kouvola. This will effectively cut the region of another 645 jobs. This is a lot for city of 88 000 that has also seen the loss of some 900 jobs through previous paper factory closures in the area. It's a difficult issue on a national level, but a very tragic issue on a personal level for those who lose their jobs.

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How Startups Are Built In Tampere: Case Of Demola

Uusi Tehdas (New Factory) is situated in the very heart of Tampere. The building is full of history: founded in 1835 it used to be a cotton factory and the biggest industrial building in the whole country. Today it's the local center of innovation and start-ups. Instead of old engine rooms, the New Factory has four programs that help students, entrepreneurs and innovators put their ideas into practice: Demola, Protomo, Suuntamo and StartupStairs.

Demola attracts students from all the universities in the area to gain study credits by building demo products for projects. Protomo helps creating start-ups by matchmaking talents, building prototypes and developing business ideas. Suuntaamo gathers a community of users from various backgrounds who are willing to test new products and give feedback. Finally, StartupStairs is an evolving program that helps most potential companies that come out of Demola and Protomo to get funded and expand to new markets.

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Interview With Steve Blank

Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the Steve Blank visits Finland -website. His visit and the awesome agenda for the week is made possible with the help of AaltoES, Tekes, Sitra, Teknologiateollisuus and others. Original text by Kalpana Shah.

Steve Blank is that rare combination of successful entrepreneur and inspiring teacher who’s also an insightful writer. His writings define, explain and predict trends that are sweeping the entrepreneurial world. Customer Development, Agile Development, the Lean Startup, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Business Model Generation are all terms for methodologies that can actually help startups get on in life.

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Tero Ojanperä Leaves Nokia To Work With Vision+

Tero Ojanperä (pictured left), a member of the Nokia Leadership Team, will be leaving the company. Forget all the drama that you always affiliate with top executives changing jobs - this sounds really good actually. Ojanperä will be actually moving to work as a partner with Vision+, an investment fund that will be investing into mobile applications to foster the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem.

According to the press release, Ojanperä has built a long career inside Nokia, 21 years to be exact. Ojanperä has been working as the Executive Vice President of Services will leave the company at the end of September.

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Microsoft Student Partners - A Great Way To Get Involved

Microsoft Student Partners is a great way for students to get involved in the world of technology and services during their studies. The Microsoft sponsored program gives students possibilities to get acquainted with Microsoft technology, services and also meet interesting people in their events. I talked to some students at the Microsoft stand in Assembly 2011 -event held in early August to get their insight into the way they see the program.

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Last Call For Startup-VC Matchmaking For September 23rd, Deadline Today

Startups, today's the last day to sign-up for Arctic15's Startup-VC matchmaking day on September 23rd. The event will be held at Innopoli 2 from 9am to 1pm. So far we've received interest from tens of startups around the region, but would naturally like to offer this out to as many startups as possible (there are no prerequisites). All you have to make sure is that you'll be in Helsinki for the event if you're among the chosen companies.

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Yummi Apps Finalising Wizardia

A Lithuanian based social gaming company and developer of such games, Yummi Apps has announced that they are finalising work on their game combining social and mobile features - Wizardia. The game will connect these two mega trends in real-time to create a new gaming experience, according to the company's press release.

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The Story Of Wooden Labyrinth 3D

The Wooden Labyrinth 3D was one of the more popular Finnish mobile apps before the arrival of Angry Birds from Rovio. To this date, Wooden Labyrinth has been downloaded some 10+ million times. The app was developed in 2009 by Elias Pietilä in February 2009. We've covered Elias Pietilä before when he ran into problems with a game called Pajazzo with the Finnish Moneygaming Association (RAY). We talked to Pietilä about the success of the game.

Since the launching of the game, it has generated a couple of hundred thousand euros for Pietilä. In the beginning of 2009 the game was immediately being sold for a few hundred euros a day. After giving out the free version of the game, the paid version improved sales as well.

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Scoopshot Revolutionizes Media Photography

Scoopshot is a service by a Helsinki, Finland based startup PS2 Media Group Inc that changes the way media companies work with photos. It's a lot said, but I'm willing to back it up as a person running a media company myself. In all simplicity, Scoopshot makes smartphone owners photographers for media companies. Users can take newsworthy photos and send them to the service through the Scoopshot mobile app and sell them at a set price. Journalists writing stories can purchase the photos at the price the photographer has set. If they wish to purchase the exclusive right to use the photo, they pay ten times the set price. I talked with Petri Rahja and Jussi Liimatainen about the service and what the company is up to.

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Qminder Wins Garage48 Tartu

Last weekend, another 48-hour developing competition was held in Tartu. The Garage48 event saw lots of interesting projects being pitched, planned and completed. Yet again, looking at the summary of the projects - Garage48's attendants showed they have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Not only are the ideas worthwhile executing, some of them managed to gain traction over the weekend already.

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Zendesk Gives Back To The Community

We often hear that once you succeed in something or achieve a goal, it's important to give back to the community that helped you get there. But how can you do that in practice? Zendesk, a start-up from Denmark that provides cloud-based help desk software, found their answer: they are opening a new development center in Denmark and are offering a year-long free subscription to their service for start-ups affiliated with certain incubators like Seedcamp, Startupbootcamp, HackFwd, TechStars, Startup Weekend and more. As Mikkel Svane, CEO, commented: 'Having been a small startup ourselves in Denmark, we recognize and are thankful for everyone who helped us along the way'.

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RIM Strengthening Forces In Northern Europe

I had a chance to talk to Paul Lucier yesterday at The Conference held in Malmö. Paul Lucier works as the Managing Director for Northern Europe and Russia at RIM. He's stationed in Stockholm, Sweden and working from there to build RIM's presence into the region. Everyone who's had their toes in the mobile streams long enough know that RIM is a serious player in the market with their Blackberry products and services. Yesterday I got the chance to see a few of their products and play around a little with the new Playbook that will hit shelves this September in Sweden. What's also good to know is that RIM is looking to build up its presence in the region, not only to sell more devices, but also attract more developer talent.

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Startups: Deadline For Arctic15 VC Meetings End Of This Month!

Startups, we're closing the signups to the VC matchmaking event, held on Friday September 23rd, at the end of August. This is because we have to book the meetings with the VCs, many whom are flying in from overseas. Therefore we ask you to sign-up immediately, if you'd like to have the chance to meet international VCs coming to Arctic15.

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Tuokio: Coin-Op Games Experience on iPad With Friends

A new gaming start-up has recently appeared on the Finnish start-up scene. Tuokio is based in Tampere and their core business are mobile games for everyday gatherings. To be more precise, they develop a portfolio of games for iOS devices. Founded in spring 2010, they released three games so far and are developing another game at the moment. Their games so far include King of Opera, Raiding Company and Blond vs Brunette Racing . We talked with one of the founders, Jouni Salonen, to learn more about what they do.

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Slidefy To Share Conference Presentations

Slidefy is a new Finnish service that targets a niche need with their offering. In essence, it's a slide sharing solution, but targeted at conference organisers and the like. Slidefy will work in such a way that conference organisers collect attendees' e-mails before the event and send them a link to the material the speaker has provided in advance. Then, during the presentation, users can focus on the actual presentation and not jot down points the speaker makes.

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Nokia Goes NFC: First NFC Enabled App In Ovi Store

A recent update to Nokia's Symbian operating system (called Anna) activates the NFC chip installed in their C7 phone and the first application featuring NFC technologies has just been added to Ovi Store. Xchange app lets user exchange business cards, photos and other information by touching other NFC-enabled devices. After the touch, information is sent to users by email and contact details are automatically saved in the contacts section. Symbian's update signifies Nokia's efforts to reassure developers and consumers that the company is not abandoning the platform and is going to support it until at least until 2016. 

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Arctic15 Less Than A Month Away

Arctic15, the one day conference that will see 21 international speakers on stage in Helsinki, Finland talking entrepreneurship and startups, is less than a month away. Now's a very good time to buy those tickets and confirm your attendance (you're also helping us by letting know of your arrival well in advance!).

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