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Students learning from the world’s best talents in the WSA project

Would you be interested in expanding your own networks and working together with exciting digital startups?

Laurea students joined Asko Mononen and Ilkka Kurkela to visit the startup team of Chaos Architects, a WSA winner.

"Laurea students have the opportunity to get to know the world’s best digital startups, which operate ethically and support sustainable development objectives,” says Development Manager Ilkka Kurkela, in charge of the Business Management degree, who represents Finland in the World Summit Awards (WSA) contest. WSA is a digital innovation awards system under the auspices of the UN, which brings together the best digital startups from around the world.

Student participation

This time, a total of 430 different digital innovations were entered into the contest. Of them, the 40 best entries were selected for the finals to be held in the WSA congress in Cascais, Portugal, in March. The contest highlights, in particular, innovations and companies that do their part to promote sustainable development and social impact. One of the 40 finalists is the Finnish company Chaos Architects. The company is the outcome of the BELT project, in which Laurea was also a participant. The objective of the project was to promote the business operations under the Smart City theme, in particular.

Ilkka Kurkela represents Finland and is a member of the contest jury for the second year in a row. The first time, he alone was in charge of seeking and contacting companies that offer digital innovations. For the second round, he put together a small team to assist him. Senior Lecturer Asko Mononen, among others, is one of the team members. He has incorporated the WSA project in Laurea’s Digital Service Business and Marketing study unit.

“Students have conducted target group analyses and created a marketing plan to find the most effective channels for reaching startup companies and communities in Finland. Half of the 10-credit study unit consists of project work and the other half involves the preparation of a theoretical report,” Mononen says, describing the study unit contents.

“A highway to the world of startups”

Kurkela’s team also includes Jouni Hoppania. He was a student in Laurea’s blended learning education when a teacher told him about an interesting cooperation opportunity.

“According to the teacher, Ilkka and I are a lot alike. Both of us are interested in startups and coming up with all kinds of new ideas. I’ve participated in a number of projects and have also had a couple of startups of my own. Ilkka is the reason why I ended up working on WSA project integration.”

The intention was to find exciting digital innovations and pick the best of them for the jury to evaluate.

“I got to utilise my own channels and contacts. The absolutely best part of this project is that you get to work with different kinds of companies, and learn about interesting innovations and business life. This is an efficient way to expand one’s network,” Hoppania tells. “As a student, I could practice marketing, project management and event organisation. We conducted interviews and sought suitable candidates for the contest, organised meetings and familiarised ourselves with companies. In a way, this project was a highway to the world of corporate culture.”

Kurkela also highlights the diverse benefits provided by the project to the students.

“If entrepreneurship and business competence are your thing, this is the way to make the right contacts,” Kurkela says. “Students have an opportunity to work with real companies. The project is a good link to the world of work.”