Slush 2019 brings community, sustainability to forefront of startup discussion

Slush Helsinki kicks off with a focus on community, sustainability
Image: Roberto Bustamante / The Burn-In

Slush 2019 commenced today with a focus on community, sustainability, and making a difference in the world. As 20,000 people descended upon Helsinki, Finland, they were joined by 4,000 startups, 2,000 investors, and a group of the nicest volunteers anyone has ever encountered.

The stage was set, the music pulsed, and the community was hungry. Hungry for what? Change, primarily. What does it mean to be innovative in this day and age of venture capitalism, technology, and perhaps more importantly, sustainability?

Slush Places Learning First

Slush is a student-driven, nonprofit organization, which means that learning is vital to this thriving community. From stages adorned with lasers, neon lights, and an enormous EDM-inspired light ball, speakers came to share their wisdom regarding innovation, leadership, and more importantly, the need to make change in the world now. Each stage is filled with informative talks from some of the biggest names in branding, tech, gaming, and other industries.

One stage in particular that took the theme to heart was the Showcase stage. It began the morning by focusing on materials and innovation. Taking to the stage were different startups featuring materials that are saving lives, building homes, and bringing the future to the here and now.

Space Age Threads to Building Blocks and More

Oros Apparel introduces Aerogel to the community at Slush Helsinki
Image: Roberto Bustamante / The Burn-In

First up was Oros Apparel. Michael Markesbery, co-CEO, told the story of the space age apparel company, and he even brought an assistant with him (who was subsequently dowsed in liquid nitrogen while wearing an Oros jacket…you know, to prove a point).

The company uses NASA technology to line their coats, thus adding a layer of thermal protection that not only helps one stay warm, but also helps the environment overall in terms of its longevity.

Block Solutions took the stage next to discuss an innovation set to help communities build, literally. The Finland-based company is developing building blocks to use around the world for new structures. These blocks, made from sustainable materials, provide a modular style of building. Blocks fit (lock together) with one another (LEGO-Inspired, perhaps?) and can be set up quickly all over the world. Now, the village will not only raise the child, but it will also raise dwellings in areas that before lacked proper habitation.

In addition to this modular solution for the world-wide housing crisis, Block Solutions is also tackling another problem: equality in the workplace. How? By assuring as a company mandate that half of its employees are female. This core value shows just how progressive, innovative, and disruptive Block Solutions is in today’s society. Truly, they are laying the building blocks to a better society, both literally and figuratively.

Lumendo, a Swiss medtech startup, also took the stage to talk about its innovation in dental design. The company has come up with a way to provide dental fillings via a light-activated material. These fillings are not only useful for dental procedures but can also be used for orthopedic as well as neurovascular applications. The hope is that with such a procedure, surgery time will be drastically reduced. Any reduction in surgical procedure time will greatly benefit any patient.

Slush Ideas to Change the World

MySpace and Unity founders on stage together at Slush 2019.
Image: Roberto Bustamante / The Burn-In

Appearances from other notable giants in the gaming and tech world, such as Chris DeWolfe (MySpace) and David Helgason (Unity), shared their philosophies of investing in companies. Top most on their minds in making decisions? Being able to work with companies to bring change and innovation to the communities of the world. The insight shared on this stage was worth more than any found in a textbook or college lecture.

Slush 2019 is off to an inspiring start. Talks of innovation ebb and flow throughout the crowd. Students mingle with investors, sharing passion projects and dreams about changing the world. Whether it’s through a platform, a product, or process, it’s all discussed here on the floor of Slush.

If, as a startup, you’ve ever wondered the value of traveling to Helsinki for Slush, simply put, it is unparalleled.

For more on Slush, follow along with the live stream here.