The Smart Spaces Summer School took place in Helsinki on 9-21 August, 2015 with a focus on retail and buildings – how to make them smarter. Fifty master students worked intensively for the two weeks on cases provided to them by Finnish companies, both big ones like Stockmann department store and telco operator Elisa as well as small startups Lukoton, Nimble Devices, InSelly and Better Life Transport.
The two weeks was full of team work, lectures, company visits and fun. “The students worked on real and concrete challenges for smart spaces given by case companies. We followed the lean startup philosophy to the extent, that students went out to interview customers and users on their concepts, and did remarkable improvements to their ideas,” explained Petri Liuha, Lead for Smart Spaces Action Line at EIT Digital.
The students learned about business modeling and planning, service design, financing, IPR, go-to-market strategy and much more. They heard about value chains and innovation routes in smart buildings, trends in e-commerce and online stores as well as about digital marketing. There was time during the days to work in teams, but many also spent a few evenings on their case.
Company visits to KONE and Tuko
KONE, a partner of EIT Digital, invited the students to visit their headquarters in Espoo. KONE is one of the biggest elevator and escalator manufacturers in the world. Jukka Salmikuukka explained about the industry, new plans and innovations for KONE. According to Jukka KONE wants to work with startups and entrepreneurs in their aim to offer the best people flow experience by leveraging innovations.
The students also visited Tuko logistics and their warehouse for groceries, where they learned how Tuko predicts the sales of their products in stores all over the country as well as saw the fully automated warehouse robots in work.
And the winning team is …
At the end of the summer school all student teams presented their business models in front of a jury and case company representatives. The teams had fiercely practiced on their pitches and the quality of the presentations was very high. The jury’s reasoning for giving the 1st prize to Team Poro was stated as follows - "very solid presentation and innovative business thinking utilizing local and global partnerships blended with hardware sold with a SaaS model. High potential beyond current problem setting.”
Team Poro (Finnish word for reindeer) worked on a case provided by the Finnish start-up Lukoton that provides lock adapters to doors so that they can be opened with mobile devices. The company asked the students to survey how big opportunity there would be in wireless access control markets. Team Poro targeted Airbnb hosts, giving them an easy and effective way to share their house keys with tenants and professionals such as cleaning, laundry and house maintenance companies.
“Sharing physical keys with all these people is ultimately time consuming for people hosting on Airbnb, so we think Lukoton smart lock is the solution, “ tells Leonardo Lanzinger, one of the Poro team members. CEO of Lukoton, Ari-Pekka Hietala, was excited about the new business model and ensured the company will make benefit of the students’ proposal.
The other business concepts created at the summer school were:
- an app named Elina, a virtual personal assistant, for department store Stockmann
- a smart cart based service for the customers of Stockmann grocery to implement digital queuing, indoor guidance and personal recommendations for loyalty customers
- a gamified concept for Outokumpu adventure park to attract more visitors
- market entry strategies for Elisa Live
- new concept for online grocery shopping delivered to your work place for Better Life Transport
- social media (Instagram) based marketing and shopping service for small shop owners
For many of the students this was their first trip to Finland that was really showing its best side with two weeks of warm and sunny weather making the trips to Suomenlinna fortress and the home of the famous composer Jean Sibelius very enjoyable. Some students also visited the historic centre of Tallinn during the weekend, which can be easily reached from Helsinki by boat within 2 hours.
“One of the best experienced here were the amazing people I met. It was interesting to visit the potential customers like Technopolis and to interview their employees. I’m going to do my second year at Aalto University in Finland so attending the summer school here enabled me to get to know the city and the staff at the Co-location Centre,” says Mahmoud Khodier.
Author - Suvi Lavinto