Finnish trip will see Scots tech high-fliers bolster links with global start-up community

A ten-person cohort of Scottish entrepreneurs will head for Finland in two weeks in a bid to strengthen links with the international start-up community.

The Helsinki trip between November 12 and 20 is being supported by the Scottish Government and enterprise agency Scottish Development International (SDI). The Scottish cohort, which will be joined by tech incubator CodeBase, will look at making connections with the global start-up community, peer-to-peer learning, investor engagement and learning best practice for ecosystem-building from the Finnish model. The programme of activities includes attendance at the Finnish capital’s annual Slush tech conference.

The ten-person cohort selected comprises Christian Arno of Pawprint, Cally Russell of We Are Unfolded, Ross Toomer of Care Reality, Alex Lu of PortF.io, Dagmara Aldridge of Zumo, Janani Prabhakaran of Unbaggaged, Pooja Katara of SENSEcity, Duncan Di Biase of Brillband, Euan Cameron of Willo and Victoria Fullerton of Toto Sleep.

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Billed as “the world’s best start-up event”, Slush takes place between November 17 and 18, with more than 4,000 start-ups and some 2,000 investors in attendance. The Slush 2022 Foras Programme was designed by Start-up Grind Scotland executives Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray and Carolina Melendez. The Helsinki trip follows the success of a similar visit to Silicon Valley in April, with both visits stemming from Mark Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review in 2020, with Logan saying recently, with regard to the Helsinki initiative, “To build world-class companies, start-up founders should always be outward-looking, learning from best-practice techniques and frameworks from around the world.”

Nick Murray, Janani Prabhakaran, Euan Cameron, Carolina Melendez and Dec McLaughlin.
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Carolina Melendez, Start-up Grind Scotland head of operations, said: “We’re excited to bring together a richly diverse cohort, not only in the focus and stage of business growth, but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience. Selected from different locations across this amazing country, our delegates are a true illustration of Scotland’s eclectic entrepreneurial ecosystem. We know the trip will bring inspiration and professional opportunities, but the ‘Foras’ model also encourages trust, openness and fostering peer relationships within the group. The cohort will return with invaluable experiences, new connections and a global mindset that we hope will benefit the Scottish tech ecosystem as a whole.”

Prabhakaran, founder of travel tech start-up Unbaggaged, said: “As a young person and woman of colour starting a business, it can sometimes be difficult to have the same edge as local entrepreneurs who have established networks here in Scotland. I’m ready to make the most of this opportunity to connect with my fellow founders in the cohort, be inspired by fresh ideas from a new ecosystem, as well as build international relationships to help grow the business to its full potential.”

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Scottish business and trade minister Ivan Mckee said: “[This initiative] presents a wonderful opportunity for a diverse cohort of entrepreneurs to access new networks, share ideas and ultimately return with fresh perspectives in guiding them towards scaling their business. Fostering growth in our start-up ecosystem can have a truly transformative effect on Scotland’s economy. Ensuring we are outward-facing and exposing founders to new experiences will move us towards becoming a true ‘start-up nation’ where achieving scale is reality for our entrepreneurs.”

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