The 20 semifinalists of Helsinki Challenge 2017 gathered to experience thisintense two-days of co-creation and co-development last week. The aim was to refine the problem to be solved, andunderstand, and find ways to verify and measure, the potential impact of the solution.
This was done by makingstrategic choices on which way to go with the project and putting the impact of the solution into words in a way that will to convince the target group, policy-makers, and funders.
"Scientists should be better in communicating science – and politicians should be better in listening to them. They don't get all the information they need to make decisions,"said Maria Wetterstrand , a former MP and an independent political commentator from Sweden.
In this, the multidisciplinary approach within the team is a key.
"The massage is stronger if there is an economist collaborating with natural scientists," she added,emphasizingthat thesustainability goal has more impact if there is economic growth involved.
Wetterstrand was one of the keynote speakers to start the two-day Impact Camp during which each of the teamsadvanced their ideas with the help of innovation investors, politicians, communications professionals, design thinkers, and other stakeholders from Finland and abroad.
To start with, Mikael Sokura from Demos Helsinki said that it was still ok to change direction but many teams seemed to find the direction instead.
"We now understand that we have to start by baby steps, but solid and measurable baby steps, and we also see the big picture and that each step will bring us closer to that,” said Liuliu Du , visiting researcher at National Institute for Health and Welfare, and member of Helsinki Challenge team Senior Cognitive Booster at the beginning of the second day.
In their project, the team will test and research the use of virtual reality to activate elderly people and that way potentiallyprevent cognitive decline. To draft their roadmap to impact, the teammet up with half a dozen mentors during the Camp.
”We did our homework and already knew about the mentors’ expertise when we came to the camp, so choosing among them was quite easy,” Du says.
After the two days of filling in post-its, and hearing various viewpoints to their project, the next step in Senior Cognitive Booster's planwasclear – finding out what motivates the target group,and accordingly,make thesolution more appealing to them.
The last mentor to visit team iCombine on the second day of the Impact Campwas Paula Havaste , author and theme leader for the Finnish Science Centre Heureka.
The team had already gotten pieces of important legal advice concerning data ownership and patient privacy from their previous mentorsbut this session was about communicating the importance of their project to policy-makers and general public.
"The subject is very close to people. This is about life and death, and you have the chance to save lives,” Havaste said.
Shepointedout that reaching out to strongpatient organisations might be crucial in advancing the project, where the team is developing data mining tools for personalized cancer treatment and potentially increasing the quality of life and reducing overmedication.
During the session there was also discussion about the strong involvement of clinicians to stress that even though there is artificial intelligence involved, the final decision on the treatment is always made by a medical doctor.
"I WANT TO SEE THESE IDEAS SUCCEED"
The two days of Impact Camp ended with some summarizing words from few of the mentors.
"The quality of these projects is way above average," said Ron Bloemers ,business coach forearly stage cleantech entrepreneurs from Netherlands.
Bringing together ten Finnish universities for this Helsinki Challenge also seemed to havea positive impact on the quality of the projects.
"The benefits of bringing together several universities is evident compared to previous Helsinki Challenge. I want to see these ideas succeed and live in a future created by the Helsinki Challenge teams," said Ferdi van Heerden ,change agent from Germany.