The journey of Startups4Peace 2021 winners
Startups4Peace program has been initiated and supported by the Embassy of Finland for the past 6 years. The program aims to encourage young entrepreneurs from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to present their startup ideas as well as cooperate and exchange ideas and good practices. The winners get the opportunity to visit SLUSH - the world's biggest startup event arranged in Finland.
Startups4Peace(Link to another website.) is currently co-funded by the European Commission through the NGO NiCo and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The program runs in partnership with CYENS Centre of Excellence in Cyprus, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
Startups4Peace aims to encourage young entrepreneurs from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot Community to present their startup ideas, cooperate and exchange ideas and good practices. Through a number of bootcamps, the program brings the startups teams together. At the end all teams compete at a pitching battle where the two winners get the opportunity to visit SLUSH(Link to another website.) - the world's leading startup event arranged in Helsinki, Finland.
In 2021, Startups4Peace program run despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Young people from both sides of the island got together, worked and learned about startups and how to develop their ideas into successful businesses. The winning startups benefitted from a great range of prizes, including innovation vouchers to help their startups.
The two winner startups Caretta Robotics & Bevolt had the opportunity to participate at SLUSH and received an Innovation Voucher to the value of €2,500 as a contribution to the business startup. The 2nd place, Cyrob Robotics, received an innovation voucher of €1,500 as a contribution to the business startup. On the 3rd place, B&B Academy, received an innovation voucher to the value of €1,000 and the startup on the 4th place, Daxici, won an Innovation Voucher to the value of €500 as a contribution to the business startup.
The trip to cold Helsinki was indeed a journey that the winners anticipated
In Finland, the winner teams got a chance to meet up with people from different backgrounds and discuss about all kinds of different projects – other startups within same area of interest, fin-tech, and service providers as well as representatives of other incubator programs. Contacts were made and the teams followed side events of Slush where startup UNICORNS shared their success story. The Embassy of Finland hosted a dinner with Mr. Peter Vesterbacka as the guest of honour. This was a valuable experience for the startups to meet the person who branded and initiated some of the most importance branded communities like the HP Bazaar, Mobile Monday, Slush and Startup Sauna just to name a few. Peter was also the Mighty Eagle at Angry Birds.
Mustafa and Ahmet from Carretta robotics (in the photo above with the assistant to the Ambassador of Finland Marilena Kyprianou) recall: “We really enjoyed our time in Helsinki. SLUSH was a big opportunity for young entrepreneurs, startups and developers like us. It was a pleasure to be there and check the future Fintech, deeptech, Blockchain applications and many more”.
Zenonas and Michalis from Bevolt describe their experience: “Despite our project being in a very early stage we got the chance to experience the entrepreneurship culture and environment of Slush and of the Finland-Estonia bay area and be part of it even for a few days. This was a new and unique experience as well as extremely helpful and informative. We got to see and learn how the mentality in this space is from everyone’s perspective, investors, startups and accelerator programs providers alike and equipped us as a startup with valuable knowledge and experience (as well as a support network) of how to navigate ourselves within this space for the benefit of our project in the future”.
The trip to Finland was in many aspects beneficial. Not only was it a bond building experience for members of the same project team but also between everyone attending the trip from Cyprus. The trip to SLUSH gave a chance for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to get to know better each other, to bond and establish not only interpersonal friendly relationships but also possible business relationships.
In Cyprus nowadays, unfortunately, not many bicommunal projects and actions take place. The Embassy of Finland proudly supports Startups4Peace program as a valuable experience for people from both communities of the island and, who knows, maybe we will have the next Unicorn startups business in Cyprus thought Startups4Peace.