The et.lakes' team has started the European road trip. The 7000km car-trip from Joensuu to London and back had its first stage at Hvittorp, Espoo. There, a panel, see program, of invited experts dissected the current roadmap and discussed the ways public and private sector could support to the establishment of start-ups focused, and even located, in emerging economies.
Invited experts represented the government sector (Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TEKES), the education and research sector (Aalto University, VTT Folk High Schools), and the private and start-up sector (Start-up sauna, ANYCON, ...).
The panel started with an introduction of each participant by the participants themselves. Next, Erkki Sutinen, director et.lakes, presented the roadmap. Things got heated when the issue of funding was brought up. Aape Pohjasvirta from Start-Up Sauna and Inclusion, brought up the issue on how ICT companies in emerging economies face the challenge that software is not considered and asset, and that makes it hard for new companies to get funding. Replicating the successful incubation concepts like start-up sauna, or now the et.lakes, is hard to fund from Finland. On one hand, from the private sector complained that MFA, TEKES, Team Finland, and others form a disorganized body of action, with a silo approach. On the other hand, the public sector complained on the lack of risk-taking from the companies. In any case, both sectors are open to innovative ideas.
Suvi Sundquist from TEKES proposed to forget about funding and to focus on having a concrete idea and the ask for funding. In that line, she asked the more demanding, and welcomed, questions to the et.lakes team. Her questions focused on the value proposal of et.lakes for companies to join it and what et.lakes aims to achieve. Given current strengths, Erkki Sutinen responded that et.lakes should aim to open ports around the world in which Finnish companies can co-create with the local companies products and services aimed at the ports' markets. et.lakes is in advanced negotiations with the College of Business education in Dar Es Salaam to establish a research and development center that will fit that purpose.
Maria Lima-Toivanen from VTT, suggested working with existing projects like M-Inclusion. In that cooperation project in Latin America actual opportunities and demands on educational technology expertise have already been identified.
The two hours for the panel were certainly not enough, and more discussions will be needed in the future. All the participants were encouraged to attend the launch of et.lakes next March.
Shortly after the panel, the et.lakes embarked in the boat to Stockholm. Ahead, they have about 1000km to Timmendorfen Strand, close to Berlin, and first stop after Helsinki.