Panel of judges

The judges play a major role in the business idea competition. Experts from the panel familiarise themselves with all the participants´ work and decide on which ideas receive the prize money. This year's judges are opinion-formers with a business background, who have come across thousands of new ideas during their careers.

The judges will begin their work on Wednesday 11 April and finish on Wednesday 25 April. The winners will be contacted by week 17 of 2018 at the latest.

Panel members

Casper Grönblom

Casper represents the crowdfunding platform FundedByMe. His experience of financing and business analysis goes back to 1999, when he joined KPMG as an auditor, and is derived from due diligence assignments, business analyses and surveys conducted in the company's transactions department. Casper was in the mezzanine financing sector from 2001 to 2017, where he specialised in the financing and analysis of company acquisitions. During his years spent in Nordic Mezzanine (2001–2013) and Armada (2014–2017), Casper analysed several hundred investment targets and participated in dozens of financing projects ranging from EUR 5–30 million in size. FundedByMe Finland is an international crowdfunding platform which has collected around EUR 50 million euros for hundreds of projects. In Finland, FundedByMe operates in partnership with Privanet.

Heikki Immonen

Heikki Immonen works as Principal Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Over the last nine years, he has worked with a team of over 1,000 university-based people developing their own business ideas. Heikki's special expertise lies in the resource-limited, early-stage testing of a business idea, and various test configurations. At the University of Applied Sciences, he is in charge of the Draft Program® microfinancing programme and Epic Challenge innovation studies. Heikki is a physicist by background. Time spent on entrepreneurial activities currently includes a product development project in the creative sector.

Matti Kurki

Matti has a long background in the management of demanding research and administrative tasks in the ICT sector. He has worked in universities, at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., and in CERN, Europe’s particle physics research centre.
Matti has also led several IT and software companies (including as CEO of Nethawk Oy). He is currently a shareholder and partner in more than five companies employing over 200 people.

Markku Pyykkönen

Markku Pyykkönen, who is known as a multi-skilled innovator in the creative sector, was recently appointed as Event Manager in the City of Joensuu. Markku has previously served at the heart of the entertainment world, leading the charitable organisation Joensuun Popmuusikot ry and the Ilosaarirock Festival. His strengths include local and national networks, conceptualisation and partnerships, and communications. It is hard to find anyone in the Finnish creative sector who is not known to Markku. Markku is also known nationwide for numerous development projects that have led to the creation of new businesses. He has sharpened his business skills on the boards of several companies. Markku has been presented with the Music Industry Leader Award (at the Music Industry Awards Gala, Music and Media in 2014), been named Producer of the Year (Art and Culture Professionals’ Trade Union TAKU in 2012), and has been awarded as a regional developer (Regional Council of North Karelia in 2010).


Heikki Rantanen

Heikki Rantanen has been an expert in product development and innovation, and IPR, during a career of almost 40 years. Heikki is currently an entrepreneur with his own consulting firm, Innowork Oy. In IPR matters, Innowork engages in close cooperation with Leitzinger Oy. Through collaboration, companies can provide more value and better expertise on business activities.

Jouko Rautasalo, chairman

Jouko Rautasalo has many years of experience of business development at the corporate interface. His work experience includes information and financial management in the telecom sector, as well as management of a service operator business, production-related enterprise resource planning sys-tems in IT firms, and the development of wholesale logistics. Joukko also has entrepreneurial expe-rience as a consultant on the use of information technology and business development, and on ex-ecutive boards and boards of directors. He is currently Development Director at Joensuu Science Park Ltd.

Antti Vikman

Antti is an entrepreneur with a broad technical and commercial background. His software industry depth of knowledge has led him to be involved with many sectors ranging from education to high-tech, consumer to enterprise, mobile apps to SaaS and even embedded software, all fueled by the new possibilities enabled through technology and digitalisation. As a science, tech and startup enthusiast he has a good grasp of the current state of the art technologies and future market winners.

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