VaasaHack hackathon goes Vaskiluoto

Meri Lammi

The IMPACT change campaign for the makers of the future culminated in the VaasaHack student hackathon. The hackathon was organized on the 27th-28th of November together with VAMK, VASEK and Wärtsilä. Around 90 students gathered at the premises of Wärtsilä’s Sustainable Technology Hub to develop new business ideas and concepts and to plan the development of the Vaskiluoto area in Vaasa. The event started on November 27 at Wärtsilä Community Space with a speech by Anna Myllymäki, planning architect of the city of Vaasa, in which Vaskiluoto’s planning plans were highlighted.

After Myllymäki’s speech, student groups gathered around four different challenges. The first challenge aimed to improve the employee experience in Vaskiluoto with the help of new service ideas. In the second challenge, a concept was designed for an annual hackathon in Vaasa. In the third challenge, new business ideas were created for the sugar factory’s main building. In the last challenge, the Vaskiluoto visitor app was devised, the task of which was to improve the visitor experience.

The purpose of the three challenges related to Vaskiluoto was to examine Vaskiluoto’s potential in terms of new services. The number of employees in the region has grown strongly since Wärtsilä opened the Sustainable Technology Hub, but the number of services in the region has not increased in the same proportion. The purpose of the Meta Hackathon challenge was to challenge students to create an annual hackathon concept that would benefit the vitality of the entire Vaasa region, Elise Raittila, project manager of Design Center MUOVA, says.

Looking towards the possibilities of working life

The hackathon continued on the second day with a talk on entrepreneurship by Vaasanseudun Kehitys Oy, VASEK. Tommi Virkama, director of the Vaasa region’s Uusyrityskeskus Startia, and business advisor Tuija Räihä-Pundars pointed out what kind of help and support they can provide. Startia supports budding entrepreneurs, for example, in developing a business idea and business plan and in applying for start-up money.

We receive approximately 550 business ideas per year. 35–40 percent of these ideas end up as a company, Virkama explains.

After Virkama and Räihä-Pundars’ speech, the project managers of Vaasa University of Applied Sciences’ Design Center MUOVA, Jari Ratilainen and Elise Raittila, told about West Coast Start Up and the characteristics of a good sales pitch. West Coast Start Up is a joint business incubator of Vaasa University of Applied Sciences and University of Vaasa, which offers support for developing and testing a business idea and starting a company.

West Coast Start Up is intended to support students interested in entrepreneurship. We offer free services to students who want to test their ideas on a concrete level. All ideas are welcomed, Ratilainen explains.

Raittila’s speech on the characteristics of a good sales pitch provided the students with tools for the afternoon’s important sales pitch. After her speech, the groups continued their ideation and finally pitched their two-day results to the jury. The jury included representatives of Vaasa University of Applied Sciences, VASEK, Wärtsilä, City of Vaasa, University of Vaasa, EPV and Visit Vaasa.

Teamwork creates results

After the first pitch, the jury selected the winner of each challenge based on predetermined criteria such as innovation and feasibility. The winners of the challenges were rewarded with pizza gift cards and they were able to continue their journey to the finals. The finalist teams presented their pitches again to the judges and students. The winning group, Hack-kyykky, was decided by public vote.

Hack-kyykky built a versatile marketing plan for a hackathon event. The group was evaluated in the first round based on the criteria of innovation, topicality, feasibility, wider impact on participants and the community, teamwork and sales pitch. Wärtsilä will invite Hack-kyykky students to a summer job interview.

VaasaHack also held a social media competition on the Instagram platform. The best Instagram posts and stories were awarded with movie tickets offered by VASEK. Hack-kyykky won the social competition with its teamwork, activity and versatile content.