This Wednesday Impact Iglu went to see the finals of the competition we could not miss – Singularity University Global Impact Challenge – for how inspirational the finalists and speakers were and how great it was to see Finland hosting the competition for the first time.
Singularity University is a teaching organisation based in California whose aim is “to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges”. In few words, Singularity University is a great think tank that helps people recognize developing technologies and build solutions that bring impact to millions worldwide.
Every year Singularity University hosts Global Impact Competitions to choose leaders all over the world to become ambassadors and students at their Graduate Studies Program in summer. This year competitions have been held at 19 locations and Finland was one for the first time, big thanks to the organisers – Singularity University alumni Pia Henrietta Kekäläinen and Marcus Ohlsson – and sponsors – If, Samsung, Aalto University, Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and KAUTEsäätiö who made it happen!
Tuula Teeri, President of Aalto University, welcomed the finalists with an inspirational speech pointing out the need of the world for extraordinary people and extraordinary ideas. After that Henrietta and Marcus briefly introduced Singularity University and the eight humanity’s grand challenges which its students aim to solve. Marcus touched upon exponential technologies, the way they change current products and services and economics on a wider scaled and how challenging that is to build a business that provides solution with impact, has a sustainable model and is able to keep up with ever increasing pace of technological development. The speeches along with welcoming words given by sponsors were followed by five brave, creative and inspiring individuals who made it to the finals.
David Brown from TeicosPharma puzzled the audience with his drug inhaling device, an innovation in the field of drug consumption. Johannes Koponen from Demos Helsinki brought up people’s dependency on access to Internet and how that can be solved by leveraging the power of energy harvesting sensors. Mikael Lehtonen shared his thoughts on how shipping industry information and process planning can be improved by integrating data systems into one global cloud-based resource. Teemu Kinos presented Diagnos – a medical decision support system that could well revolutionize the health care industry.
All ideas totally impressed the audience by their scale, innovativeness and adoption of technology but the one to catch judges’ attention and win the scholarship to GSP was Anni Laurila, student at the School of Architecture at Aalto University working on a project to improve access to clean water in China. Anni got her inspiration when working abroad and seeing how critical the issue of clean drinking water is to the developing nations. Anni and her project partner aim to develop water quality index that would show the state of water in the regions and even city areas in China. The information will be accessible via a mobile or web app that will give localised data and suggest the best water filters for that region. Anni will be the ambassador from Finland at SU GSP and we wish her all the best, lots of luck and inspiration for building a great business on her idea!
After the finalists’ presentations David Roberts, serial entrepreneur and two times director of SU graduate programs, rocked the audience with his massive and very interesting presentation about disruptive innovations. David spoke for well of an hour making his presentation hell of a crash course on Singularity University so the audience got a feeling as if they fast-forwarded through the graduate program. David spoke a lot about disruption, disruptive innovative theory, how disruption never ends and how not sure the humankind is about what will come with robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. The most touching moment of his presentation though was when he made a great point – “I believe that we’re all Kevin. Technology doesn’t make us better people” – he concluded, showing Kevin’s Carter Pulitzer-winning photograph taken in Sudan. The speech ended on a positive note with David persuading the audience on how unknown but fantastic the future is. In the end, Carina Namih, SU alumna and CEO and Founder of HelixNano shared her personal story of becoming a successful entrepreneur with the help of SU.
All in all, we are extremely glad that Singularity University is now connected to Finland and we wish all the best to the participants! We could also feel that there were a lot of people in the audience who are hungry for making the world a better place and that is why we are organising Impact Business Competition in May 2015 – this is the chance for you to start innovating on a smaller scales and get the help of coaches and mentors to advance your idea and who knows, maybe you will be the next Singularity University star!
Find more information on the Impact Business Competition at www.impactiglu.org!
Written by Roope Kiviranta