10-person cohort of Scottish entrepreneurs selected for Helsinki tech trip

31/10/2022
Left to Right : Nick Murray, Janani Prabhakaran, Euan Cameron, Carolina Melendez, and Dec McLaughlin

THE 10-person cohort of Scottish entrepreneurs selected to travel to Helsinki, Finland next month for a programme of activities including attendance at the Finnish capital’s annual Slush tech conference has been announced. 

The 10-person cohort selected is: Christian Arno of Pawprint; Cally Russell of We Are Unfolded; Ross Toomer of Care Reality; Alex Lu of PortF.io; Dagmara Aldridge of Zumo; Janani Prabhakaran of Unbaggaged; Pooja Katara of SENSEcity; Duncan Di Biase of Brillband; Euan Cameron of Willo, and; Victoria Fullarton of Toto Sleep.

The Helsinki trip between 12-20 November is supported by the Scottish Government and enterprise agency Scottish Development International (SDI).  The Scottish cohort, which will be joined by tech incubator CodeBase, awarded the Tech Scaler contract earlier this year, is aimed at making connections with the international startup community, peer-to-peer learning, investor engagement, and learning best-practice for ecosystem-building from the Finnish model.

Billed as “The World’s Best Startup Event”, Slush takes place between 17-18 November, with over 4,000 startups and over 2,000 investors in attendance.  The Slush 2022 Foras Programme was designed by Startup Grind Scotland executives Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray, and Carolina Melendez. 

The Helsinki trip follows the success of a similar trip to Silicon Valley in April, with both visits stemming from Mark Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review in 2020, with Logan saying recently, with regard to the Helsinki initiative, “To build world-class companies, startup founders should always be outward-looking, learning from best-practice techniques and frameworks from around the world.”

The cohort will also be visiting Nokia, Maria01, Startup Sauna, and Aalto University with introductions supported by local agent and Startup Grind Helsinki Director, Kelvin Chikezie.

Carolina Melendez, Startup Grind Scotland Head of Operations, said: “We’re excited to bring together a richly diverse cohort, not only in the focus and stage of businesses growth, but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience. Selected from different locations across this amazing country, our delegates are a true illustration of Scotland’s eclectic entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“We know the trip will bring inspiration and professional opportunities, but the ‘Foras’ model also encourages trust, openness and fostering peer relationships within the group.  The cohort will return with invaluable experiences, new connections and a global mindset that we hope will benefit the Scottish tech ecosystem as a whole.”

Janani Prabhakaran, Founder of travel tech startup, Unbaggaged, said: “As a young person and woman of colour starting a business, it can sometimes be difficult to have the same edge as local entrepreneurs who have established networks here in Scotland. I’m ready to make the most of this opportunity to connect with my fellow-founders in the cohort, be inspired by fresh ideas from a new ecosystem, as well as build international relationships to help grow the business to its full potential.”

Ivan Mckee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise said:”On behalf of the Scottish Government, I am delighted we have been able to support Start-Up Grind Scotland in delivering this excellent initiative following the success of the Ecosystem Fund-backed Silicon Valley programme in April. It presents a wonderful opportunity for a diverse cohort of entrepreneurs to access new networks, share ideas and ultimately return with fresh perspectives in guiding them towards scaling their business.”

“Fostering growth in our start-up ecosystem can have a truly transformative effect on Scotland’s economy. Ensuring we are outward-facing and exposing founders to new experiences will move us towards becoming a true Start-up Nation where achieving scale is reality for our entrepreneurs.”

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