Slush and the future of Europe

Signals from a northern tech event

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Seventeen-thousand-five-hundred people came to Helsinki last week for Slush and it was a blast. The limitless energy was palpable in every angle of the convention center where the event was held. Plenty of startups, investors, press and volunteers (OMG how many volunteers… 2,400! Thank you guys and girls!) joined forces to give life to countless meetings, coffee cups served, chit-chats in the hallways and maybe even some deals.

I have been watching the Helsinki startup scene for some time and I remember the first Slush I attended in 2012 when Jolla was on stage (I mean the whole company) and there were no more than 3,000 attendees, almost everyone knew each other and corporate presence was hardly noticeable, there were investors but the atmosphere was totally different.

Yet already at that time I could see what Slush was going to become because the energy was incredible and everyone was genuinely interested in helping the whole ecosystem, starting from the Finnish one and extending to the European. If you are in Technology and in Startups this is really an event you cannot miss any longer (so if you didn’t come this year consider coming the next one ;) ).

The Italian Mission To Slush 2016

And that is why I wanted to strongly bring an Italian presence to Slush. Also Italy, despite being outside of every statistic has a small (but growing) startup ecosystem and I thought it would have been a pity if Italy would have missed this opportunity.

I started discussing this with the previous Italian ambassador in 2013 and little by little things started getting into place. It took a while but this year with the help of the Italian embassy in Finland and the Italian Trade Agency we managed to organize a very nice stand where more than 25 Italian startups have had the opportunity to present their products and services, meet potential partners and investors and curious by-passers mostly interested in the chocolates that were kindly offered by Ferrero.

Breaking the European boundaries

That is the kind of activities that every European country should promote. Too often cities and countries are focused into getting companies to setup a local presence but too often they forget to promote their own startups abroad. With the help of the local communities that are well involved in local ecosystem there is a lot of targeted activities that can be achieved at a very low cost. Every country is different and every ecosystem has its own strengths that only locals can really understand.

I know that there is a lot of local immigrant communities all over the world and in this time of economic uncertainty and of seemingly increasing division between different populations and races I believe that only by using local immigrants to introduce and integrate foreign companies to local events we can really break those barriers that countries in Europe are artificially building.

I would be so happy to help others doing the same to promote cross cultural pollination and real collaboration.

Slush as an example of what Europe can do for innovation

Slush is an example of a border-less environment where entrepreneurs and investors from all over Europe (and some from US, China and Russia as well) meet in a cultural mesh that creates way more than the sum of the 17,500 persons that joined this year.

This is what Europe can do when everyone stops thinking about their own little backyard and really focuses on growth and innovation.

We need a hundred Slush more.