Venturing off to new shores

Photo: Kai Kuusisto / Slush 2016

Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in the middle of cold and dark winter – except for SLUSH!

In the beginning of December, Europe’s leading startup and tech conference gathered over 17,500 attendees – startups, entrepreneurs, investors, corporations and media from all around the world – together to network and discuss about the latest developments in technologies and startup scene over two days in Helsinki.

This year, ABB participated at Slush for the first time. And I have a good feeling that it will not be the last time!

The conference was full of interesting panel discussions, pitching sessions from startups and corporations, as well as all non-official discussions taking place in stands and in one-to-one meeting areas which were always packed, suggesting some great commercial conversations. With such a volume and variety of startups all in one place, establishing discussions with relevant parties was time efficient.

No matter what were the reasons to be there – some were in for the investors, some for the customers, and some for just to be inspired – but common for all was the entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to change the world together. This made building networks at business and personal levels amazingly easy at Slush.

For Drives and Controls business unit, our mission was to invite entrepreneurs and innovators in writing the future together with ABB as well as showcase our innovations of tomorrow already happening today. One of the opportunities we utilized at Slush was the Corporate Pitching Session where I introduced our IdeaHub Innovation Challenge competition:

Our CTO Bazmi Husain participated in one of the panel discussions on how the Industrial Internet changes the competition and business models in traditional industries like energy, maritime and logistics which are facing big disruption. Bazmi shared his thoughts of ABB’s stance on venture investing and collaboration with ventures with Samsung’s VP of Ecosystems and IoT General Manager Curtis Sasaki, Industryhack’s CEO and co-founder Petri Vilén, GE Digital’s General Manager Vincent Champain, and startup investor Inka Mero:

YuMi taking a few hundred selfies with the visitors and our augmented reality demo with Microsoft HoloLens played their part brilliantly in introducing ABB within the startup scene. People were not only eager to test YuMi and the AR demo but there was a lot of genuine interest towards the technologies and concepts behind them too. It was great to see that there was high interest towards ABB to jointly test solutions of the startups.

Well more than half of the companies we met have a solution that would fit well into our IdeaHub Innovation Challenge. We have been approached by companies that would not have been on our radar otherwise and discussions with some of these are continuing. A number of applications have already come through to the challenge website from contacts we made at Slush together with Venturebright, our organizing partner behind the IdeaHub.

In my experience, Slush exceeded all expectations and is undeniably worth of all the hype and reputation as the leading conference in Europe. I can’t wait to see what the event evolves into next year!

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About the author

Juho Vuorio

With background in various roles at a global crane manufacturing and service company and a tech startup, I joined ABB Drives in 2016 to lead a digitalization initiative. Digitalization is opening great opportunities where customers benefit from better productivity and yield while business models in equipment sales are getting closer to those of traditional software sales. This transformation requires new ways to think on how we innovate, build, deliver and measure value but also on the way we lead people.
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