Slush 2023 highlights: Helsinki as a launchpad for global tech and business growth 

Helsinki Partners launches the world-renowned 90 Day Finn Program and the new Venture Nordics Program at Slush 2023, to establish Helsinki as the Nordic innovation hub for investment and technological advancement. 

5 min read

  • Helsinki Partners launches the 90 Day Finn Program 2024 and Venture Nordics Program at Slush 2023
  • Slush 2023 showcased Helsinki’s growing influence as a Nordic innovation hub, emphasizing sustainable impact and technological advancements.
  • Key themes included the transformative impact of AI, a focus on gaming and climate tech, and the challenges of talent acquisition in startups.
  • The event highlighted the need for greater diversity and inclusion in the European tech ecosystem.

Last week, our normally quiet Nordic capital Helsinki burst to life with Slush 2023. This high-energy event has evolved from a small local meetup into an international powerhouse, turning Helsinki into a magnet for tech enthusiasts and investors. Slush 2023 didn’t just light up the city; it spotlighted Helsinki as a gateway to Europe’s vibrant startup scene. 

Slush is Europe’s largest startup event held annually in Helsinki, Finland. Once a modest gathering of tech enthusiasts, Slush has evolved into an annual pilgrimage for successful startup founders, tech talent, international VCs, LPs, corporate executives, and innovators.  

This year’s Slush was a showcase of Nordic innovation, with over 300 side events centred around driving sustainable impact and innovative solutions. Afterparties echoed the spirit of collaboration – a testament to Finland’s position as a gateway for investing in Europe. 

Helsinki Partners, responsible for growing Helsinki’s global reputation as a European startup hub, hosted a series of side events at Slush 2023. These events were held across the city and provided opportunities to make meaningful connections and engage in discussions with a diverse range of stakeholders, reflecting the city’s inclusive ethos and its ambition to grow its global footprint.  

Highlights of Slush 2023 

Startup Challenges and Success Stories  

The journey of an entrepreneur is never a straight line. Founders shared their rollercoaster rides, emphasising the importance of defining success on their own terms, prioritising the well-being of their teams, and sticking to the nuts and bolts of their business models. These stories showcased the gritty reality behind a founder’s journey.  

Finland, particularly Helsinki, reaffirmed its status as a land of unicorns, with Day Two featuring talks from unicorn founders like those of Wolt, DoorDash, and Slack. Their narratives of perseverance served as a testament to the endurance required for tech success, especially in the current economic climate. This served as an inspiration to the startups and aspiring founders present, emphasizing that the path to success is a marathon, not a sprint. 

The Impact of AI on Entrepreneurship and Innovation  

As artificial intelligence continues to transform industries, Slush 2023 shone a spotlight on the transformative role of AI in entrepreneurship, a theme epitomized by the Slush 100 startup competition.  

Berlin-based Faircado, an AI-powered browser plugin, emerged victorious, securing €1 million in funding. Faircado’s innovative solution simplifies sustainable shopping by finding second-hand alternatives online, reflecting the increasing importance of AI in promoting a circular economy. The company’s success at Slush underscores Helsinki’s growing reputation as a cradle for AI-driven innovation. The event also highlighted the importance of AI in driving sustainable business practices and reshaping consumer habits for a more sustainable future. 

The discussions extended beyond theoretical applications, delving into how Helsinki’s AI companies are making tangible differences in the world, strengthening the city’s claim as a future research and development centre. 

Technology and Innovation in Business  

The gaming industry’s prominence and the focus on climatetech at Slush 2023 highlighted the fusion of technology and business. Notable was the participation of industry leaders from companies like Supercell and Discord, reflecting the continuous growth and investment in these sectors. Entrepreneurs and tech experts converged to share insights into how neural networks and AI are pushing Helsinki to the forefront of global innovation, painting the city as the perfect place for expanding business internationally. 

Social Impact and Sustainability in Technology  

At Slush 2023, the emphasis on climate tech and sustainable solutions underscored the event’s focus on social responsibility and the growing importance of sustainability in technology. The Horizon Stage and startup exhibition stalls buzzed with discussions about emerging climate tech startups, marking the sector’s rising influence. 

This year, there was a noticeable effort to ensure greater representation for women across all stages, and the attendee demographic was more diverse than in previous years. However, the need for more diversity and inclusion within the European founder and VC ecosystem remained a prominent topic. A roundtable hosted by Antler’s Sarah Finegan specifically addressed this issue, focusing on how VCs can implement more effective inclusion strategies. The discussions at Slush 2023 reflected a growing recognition in the industry of the need for more substantial action towards diversity and inclusion, aligning with the broader themes of social responsibility and sustainability. 

Helsinki Partners’ Side Events 

Helsinki Partners’ contribution to Slush 2023, was to showcase our suite of services designed to help international investors, corporations, and scaleups thrive in Helsinki. 

Venture Nordics Program  

The Funding the Future event was a milestone for Leo Capital, which unveiled their new fund, marking a significant moment for Helsinki’s promising venture capital infrastructure. Leo Capital’s choice of Helsinki for its European office underscores the city’s reputation as a leading European startup hub. 

In the same event, the newest addition to Helsinki Partners’ programs, was unveiled to the world. This exclusive initiative invites international fund managers and limited partners to explore Finland’s booming sectors and discover why Helsinki is the perfect place for investing in Europe. 

Our new investor program, Venture Nordics, offers a unique, 9-day immersive experience for international fund managers and LPs to delve into Finland’s thriving sectors like gaming, software, and medtech. 

This exclusive program is a gateway to uncovering European investment gems and embracing the Nordic approach to work-life balance. Meet Finland’s key market players, connect with top VCs and startups and discover practical insights into investment and operational strategies in Finland. Plus, enjoy leisure activities that showcase the best of the Finnish lifestyle. 

The program will run from May 30th to June 7th, 2024. We will be accepting applications until February 18th, 2024.  

90 Day Finn Program 2024: The Ultimate Helsinki Experience  

The world-renowned 90 Day Finn Program made waves with the launch of the program’s fourth iteration, offering top executives from around the globe the chance to immerse themselves in Helsinki’s collaborative business networks. 

Experience first-hand Finland’s strong public-private partnerships and fuel your business’s growth and expansion into Europe. For the first time, we’re offering flexible stays from 30 to 90 days, beginning August 2024. The program is a testament to Helsinki Partners’ expertise in matching people with possibilities, and fostering a culture of approachability that makes expanding business internationally a smooth ride. 

We will be accepting applications until February 29th, 2024. 

Slush 2023 Wrapped  

Slush 2023 was more than a business conference; it was a celebration of Helsinki’s burgeoning tech scene and a testament to the city’s readiness for international business expansion in Europe. With Helsinki Partners at the helm, providing free-of-charge services to navigate the Nordic investment landscape, the city is poised to become an even more attractive hub for VCs, CVCs, and innovators looking to grow. 

Helsinki Partners’ role at Slush 2023 was more than just organising side events. We’re a ‘golden ticket’ for any corporation considering European expansion, offering hands-on consultancy, matchmaking services, and immersive programs like Venture Nordics, Founders to Finland, and the 90 Day Finn Program

Learn more about the Venture Nordics Program

Engage with Finland’s key market players, network with top VCs and startups, and discover practical insights into investment and operational strategies in Finland. Plus, enjoy leisure activities that showcase the best of the Finnish lifestyle!

Group of business people listening attentively on a company tour
@Maija Astikainen

Contact Helsinki Partners

If you are interested in learning more about Helsinki and its possibilities – please contact us via the form here. We’ll make sure to get back to you within a few working days.

Juhana Hurtig