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Nordic innovators matchmaking for independent living

  • Published 06/05/2015
  • Last updated 07/05/2015
130 innovators met in Copenhagen 4 and 5 May to develop their ideas into a winning proposition in the Nordic Independent Living Challenge.

"You need to challenge us in how we give services, because everything can be turned upside down", was Juha Jolkkonen’s clear message on the first day of the Nordic Independent Living Challenge matchmaking event at AFUK in Copenhagen, hosted by Nordic Innovation and the five Nordic capitals.


The competition’s steering group chairperson and division director of the City of Helsinki’s health and social care services opened the matchmaking event in what may be described as not your average conference venue. The 130 competition participants were gathered in a large hall with candle light candelabras, coffee mugs from flea markets and curious installations.


The unorthodox surroundings may have had an influence on the participants, who went into the workshops and matchmaking activities with much enthusiasm and smiles throughout two intense days.


See photos from the event.



Working together and understanding the user needs

As the name of the event implies, the goal of the day was to match the participants. Since several of them are working on related solutions, while also having different kind of competencies, there could potentially be a lot to gain from working together. By teaming up, the participants could come a step closer to the final competition prize.


Working together, also on a Nordic level, could turn profitable as well.


"The Nordic countries as one home market is an element that I think we should use more when cooperating with businesses and developing ideas", said Mr. Dagur B. Eggertsson, the mayor in the City of Reykjavik.


"We have different strengths in the Nordic countries, and combining that with similar economic and demographical challenges means there is a significant market potential in the Nordic region", added Dennis C. Søndergaard from the Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues.


Through both inspiring keynotes and workshops, they were also given the opportunity to better understand the needs of the end users.


"A big limitation for me is to reach the top of the shelves and cupboards in my home. I have a special chair I can use to reach up, but I am afraid of falling so I don’t use it", said Ruth Forsberg, who was one of the end users who gave the participants valuable expert insights in one of the workshops.


Download event schedule.



– A great event

The participants also had the opportunity to match with each other and ask questions to representatives from all the five Nordic capitals. Although the participant groups was a heterogeneous one, including students, startups, health care professionals and established companies, they seemed to enjoy the two days.


"It has been a great event. It is nice to have the city representatives here, and I have had good talks with several of the end users", said Nicolai S. Laugesen who works at large Danish company Falck.


Other participants benefitted from being challenged on their own ideas.


"This have been a really amazing experience for us. We’ve met creative and inspiring people and are so motivated to continue our project", said Finnish student Tilda Jyräsalo.


"We’ve also got some really challenging questions that we’ve had to answer. We have learned to see our project from a different angle", added teammate Lotta Köhler.



25 will proceed in the competition

The matchmaking event in Copenhagen was a part of the second stage of the Nordic Independent Living Challenge. The 130 participants were part of 75 teams selected by an independent Nordic jury to further compete for the main prize, after more than 400 ideas had been submitted in the initial stage.


In the beginning of June, the jury will pick 25 of the 75 teams represented at the matchmaking event to progress in the competition.


"I have seen smiling faces and disagreements, and that is always a good thing! We want to wish all of you good luck further in the competition", said Juha Jolkkonen as he rounded up after two intense days of matchmaking in Copenhagen.


Hopefully the participating innovators were inspired by both Jolkkonen’s opening words and the acrobatic dinner entertainment – and turn things upside down.



A Nordic collaborative competition

The Nordic Independent Living Challenge is run by Nordic Innovation in cooperation with the five Nordic capitals, and aims to develop new solutions that can help elderly and disabled live independently in their own homes. The competition has a main prize of one million NOK, as well as special prizes for student projects and Nordic collaboration projects.


You can read more about the competition at