The world’s best digital startups compete at the UN’s World Summit Awards

​World Summit Awards (WSA), an innovation contest organised by the UN, annually brings together the best digital innovations from approximately 180 countries from around the world. Through a high-level selection process, 40 digital ideas in eight different categories have made it to the finals to be held at the WSA Congress on 20–22 March in Vienna, Austria.

This year, Laurea’s Development Manager Ilkka Kurkela is Finland’s representative in the contest for the first time.

- As a National Expert, I had the honour of selecting Finland’s candidates for the different contest categories. Two Finnish start-ups were selected to the final ranking by the Grand Jury, and Lyfta, which develops digital learning environments, made it to the Vienna finals, Kurkela says.
- It is great to be able to see in Vienna a cross-section of the latest and most innovative digital applications from around the world.

Focus on the impact on society

The WSA contest has been organised for 15 years. The contest organised by the UN aims to highlight, above all, innovations that promote sustainable development and impact on society.

- This is what makes the WSA so great, Ilkka Kurkela says.
- How digital solutions can make the world a better place and make daily life easier for people – whether the topic is learning, health and well-being or agriculture, for example.

According to Kurkela, one of Finland’s strengths in the field of digital applications is education, which is also what Lyfta represents in this year’s contest. Other areas where Finland could have a lot to offer worldwide include various medical, health and well-being solutions that help people take better care of their well-being.

- Combining our strength in learning with leadership would also be a new opportunity for Finnish developers. Leadership and being a leader are closely linked with learning; for a company to develop and succeed, the members of the organisation must have the ability to learn continuously, Kurkela adds.

Learning from the world’s best

Seeing the world’s best digital ideas at the Vienna congress will also be an opportunity for Ilkka Kurkela to learn, and he wants to share what he learns with his students.

- If you want to become skilled in something, you should definitely follow the example of the best experts. To be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge available in a contest, such as the WSA, is an enormous opportunity for Laurea and students, Kurkela says.
- That is why I would like to encourage students to ensure they have access to the ideas of the world’s best developers of digital solutions. In other words, you should be selective about the contents of your daily feed.

The winner of this year’s WSA contest will be announced in Vienna in March, but the contest will continue with national contests this summer. Ilkka Kurkela will again participate in the nomination of Finland’s candidates for the next year’s contest, and encourages innovative start-ups to apply.

- I would love to see students and start-ups from Laurea in the contest. If you have unique ideas and the courage to take the leap, you should definitely apply, he says.

Learn more about the WSA Congress


Laurea student, would you like to participate the WSA program and take part in an interesting project? Contact development manager Ilkka Kurkela or senior lecturers Anna Nolvi and Asko Mononen for more information.

Modified 3/6/2018 1:06 PM

​Ilkka Kurkela.