The Helsinki Challenge finalist teams presented Finnish science innovations in Brussels and met with EU decision-makers.

The finalists in the Helsinki Challenge competition and accelerator programme visited Brussels to be mentored by EU experts and influencers. At the end of the two-day event, a group of members of the European Parliament, or MEPs, selected Team POCKit as the winner of the Impact Prize. 

At the occasion which took place at the Bibliothèque Solvay in the Leopold Park of Brussels, Vice-Rector Wiljan van den Akker who is responsible for research in the University of Utrecht fulsomely praised the quality of the work done in teams of Finnish universities.

”It’s not enough to say that Finns are keeping track of the innovative development, on the basis of the evidence given by these projects; we  must confess that the the Finns are leading it”, he enthused.

The decision about the Impact Prize acknowledgement was made by the Finnish MEPs Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and Sirpa Pietikäinen and the Hungarian MEP Benedek Jávor. Making the decision was difficult because all the participating groups were so high-level.

”Of course it is a great honour to participate a competition of this kind as a judge”, Benedek Jávor said when the prize was awarded.  “After all, the problem was the difficulty of rewarding only one, when all these seven suggestions were so good. When making this choice we mostly emphasized its innovativeness. But also in this regard all contestants were really good.”

According to Miapetra Kumpula-Natri it was a really good thing that all the participating teams’ baseline was to think over their solutions and the societal impact of these on a global scale.

”It has been really great to notice how the Helsinki Challenge teams have pondered about their projects as global challenges. We here in the EU have always to think of things through a trans-national perspective, so we have quite a good picture of them”, Kumpula-Natri said.

"It’s really motivating to gain recognition for work in which we so highly believe."

The promoter of the POCKit associate professor Leona Gilbert from the University of Jyväskylä was happy about the prize on behalf of her group.

”This acknowledgement really encourages our group to even more eagerly work on this project. It’s really motivating to gain recognition for work in which we so highly believe”, she commended closing the occasion.
 
The POCKit has developed a technology with which several different diseases can be diagnosed from one’s own blood sample using a pocket-size analyzing device. In a time when about half of the world population has no access to proper health care, we need means with which people better than until now can monitor their health themselves.

With the POCKit analyzing device contagious diseases can be prevented from spreading and infections can be diagnosed in time so that they most likely can still be cured. At the same time huge amounts of money can be saved, Gilbert told when she presented the results gained by her group.

Other finalists were the Dlearn.Helsinki team from the University of Helsinki who have developed pedagogical learning tools, the ELMO team from the University of Helsinki who have developed new kinds of solutions for combatting malaria, team FutuRena from the University of Oulu who are developing 3D printing of a patients’ own kidney tissue, team HeatStock from the Aalto University who are developing solutions for heat storage, team iCombine from the University of Helsinki who are developing mathematical modelling of cancer medicine combinations and team Parental Box from the University of Helsinki who have developed solutions for maintaining the mental health of parents of small children.

The main award of the Helsinki Challenge is the 375.000 euro funding for the winning team. The prize is awarded on the 24th of November.