A jury of experts evaluates the potential of business ideas and rewards the best ones. The competition serves as the starting point, test bench and source of encouragement for every idea submitted, as you can continue to refine your idea together with Business Joensuu experts after the competition.

The competition starts on 1 February 2019 and ends on 31 March 2019.
The jury will start its work on 1 April 2019 and finish it by 20 April 2019.
The winners will be contacted during week 19/2019 at the latest.
The winners will be published on 8 May 2019.

After that, the refinement of ideas will continue!

How to take part

Read the rules carefully, fill in the online application form and send it. You may also attach a one-minute video to the application.

Competition information



The purpose of the Start Me Up business idea competition is to find and reward people or companies whose business idea has the potential to promote North Karelian entrepreneurship and can be implemented in North Karelia.


Money prizes:

  • First prize EUR 20,000 and facilities at the Joensuu Science Park for a year
  • Student prize EUR 9,000
  • Research-based business idea EUR 5,000
  • Entrepreneurial business idea EUR 10,000
  • Future Industry EUR 6,000
  • Best potential for internationalisation EUR 7,000
  • Prize draw EUR 1,000

Expert prizes:

  • Legal services worth EUR 1,500, sponsored by Asianajotoimisto Surakka Oy (Attorneys at Law Surakka Oy)
  • Strong patent application worth EUR 4,900, sponsored by Leitzinger Oy
  • Prize for the best VR/AR business idea of EUR 5,000 and office space for a year, sponsored by Joensuu VR LAB Project
  • Financial services worth EUR 4,000, sponsored by Nordea Oyj
  • Services for internationalisation worth EUR 1,000, sponsored by TalentHub Joensuu Project

Support for pilot projects:

  • The Circwaste project/circular economy theme: EUR 10,000
  • Pilot projects in the Pielisen Karjalan Kehittämiskeskus PIKES (Pielinen Development Centre) region: EUR 5,000
  • Pilot projects in the Lieksa region: EUR 5,000
  • Pilot projects in the Kontionloikka Oy area: EUR 3,000, sponsored by the municipality of Kontiolahti

Cash prizes are taxable income for a private individual. Participants must have a business ID for receiving the first prize. The first prize should be used to further develop the business idea in North Karelia. The first prize is subject to the participant having a plan for how the money will be spent on business development, approved by the organiser.

Winners will be announced on 8 May 2019.


Business Joensuu Oy



Prototypes and demos or other attachments related to the business idea must be delivered to Business Joensuu Lobby Services, have the name of the participant and be labelled “Start Me Up 2019”. Address: Länsikatu 15, 80110 Joensuu.


1 February to 31 March 2019.


  • Rautasalo Jouko, Director, Business Joensuu Oy, (Chairman)
  • Heikki Immonen, Principal Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
  • Matti Kurki, Managing Director, Kurki Consulting Oy
  • Heikki Rantanen, Managing Director, Innowork Oy
  • Antti Vikman, Entrepreneur, Nolwenture Oy
  • Jyrki Saarinen, Professor, University of Eastern Finland
  • Annu Ahonen, Managing Director, Kontionloikka Oy


The business ideas will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • Feasibility
  • Innovation potential
  • Business growth potential
  • Internationalisation potential


  • The business ideas are treated as confidential.
  • Participants are responsible for protecting any intellectual property rights associated with their business idea.
  • Details of the winning business ideas will be made public.
  • If the participant wants to restrict publicity, they must make this clear in their application form.


The results of the competition will be announced, and the prizes will be presented to the winners on 8 May 2019 in Joensuu. Where decisions have been made, prizes for the pilot projects will also be announced on 08 May 2019.


Start Me Up pilot projects funding can accelerate product development, redesign or development of new products, services, production methods or business models. With the funding, it is possible to test and verify the operation of a new solution or service with customers. The goal is to enable the idea to be transformed into a commercial product or service. A total of EUR 23,000 has been allocated for piloting the ideas from the business competition.

  1. The decision on how to allocate the money for the pilot projects will be made by representatives of Business Joensuu Oy’s Business Incubator and partners of the Start Me Up business idea competition.
  2. Obtaining funding requires a written plan for the use of the money, approved by the Business Incubator.
  3. Funding will be paid in arrears against the actual and approved costs.
  4. The funding beneficiary is obliged to report in writing to the Business Incubator on the results of the pilot.
  5. The pilot projects and reporting on them must be completed by 31 December 2019.

The organiser reserves the right to award all or part of the money reserved for the pilot projects. Funding can be granted to one or more ideas to be piloted. The decisions made by Business Joensuu Oy’s Business Incubator and Start Me Up business partners are final and cannot be appealed.

Pilot projects will be carried out in cooperation with the Circwaste project, Lieksan Kehitys Oy, Kontionloikka Oy and Pielinen Karjalan Kehittämiskeskus Oy PIKES.



  • One entrant can participate in the competition with several ideas.
  • You can participate in the competition alone or as a team.
  • Members of the judging panel or their family members may not participate in the competition.
  • In the case of ideas sent in by employees of a company, the competition participants declare that they act in accordance with the Employee Invention Act.
  • For the office premises prize, the maximum size of the premises is 14m2.
  • Business idea attachments (prototypes/demos) will only be returned upon request after the competition results have been made public.
  • The winner of the Student Prize award must be a student of the University of Eastern Finland, the Karelia University of Applied Sciences or Riveria.
  • If you wish, you may upload a one-minute video to showcase your business idea to the competition judges. Participation in the competition always requires the completion of the application form.
  • By submitting your business idea to the competition, you accept the competition rules.
  • The decisions of the judging panel are final and cannot be appealed.
  • The organiser of the competition will not accept any liability if a participant infringes on someone else’s intellectual property rights.


Kari Pulkkinen, tel. +358 50 406 8716

Jarno Verso, tel. +358 40 543 9347