A panel of experts assesses the potential of all business ideas and rewards the most mind-blowing ones. The competition serves as a starting point for your business idea, tests it, and inspires it further. After the competition, all participants can continue to refine their ideas together with the Business Joensuu experts.

The competition starts on 01/02/2020 and ends on 31/03/2020.
The panel will commence its duties on 01/04/2020 and finish by 27/04/2020.
The winners will be contacted at the latest during week 19/2020.
The winners will be published on 13/05/2020.

How to participate:

Read the competition information carefully, fill in the electronic application form  and send it. You may also attach a one-minute video to your electronic application.

Competition info


The objective of the Start Me Up business idea competition is to discover and reward people or companies, whose business idea can be used to promote North Karelian entrepreneurship and which can be implemented in North Karelia.


Monetary awards:

  • Main prize EUR 20,000
  • Student prize EUR 9,000
  • Best potential for internationalisation EUR 5,000
  • Industrial digitalisation EUR 3,000, sponsored by Process Genius Oy
  • Best research-based business idea EUR 3,000
  • Prize for a randomly selected winner EUR 1,000


Facilities award:

  • Winner of the main prize gains use of facilities provided by Business Joensuu for one year (Länsikatu 15)

Expert awards:

  • Legal services worth €1,500, sponsored by Asianajotoimisto Surakka Oy (Attorneys at Law Surakka Oy)
  • Strong patent application worth EUR 4,900, sponsored by Leitzinger Oy

Support for piloting:

  • Expert services worth EUR 10,000 for piloting, sponsored by the Bioeconomy and Circular economy Growth Programme
  • Pilot projects in the Kontionloikka Oy area: EUR 3,000, sponsored by the municipality of Kontiolahti

Monetary awards are taxable income for private individuals. A business ID is a prerequisite for receiving the first prize. The first prize should be used to further develop the business idea in North Karelia. Payment of the main prize is subject to the participant having a plan approved by the organiser on how to spend the prize money on business development.

The winners will be announced on 13/05/2020.



Business Joensuu Oy



Participation takes place through www.startmeup.fi

Send the prototypes / demos and other attachments related to your business idea to Business Joensuu’s Lobby Services. Please add correct postage and mark your consignment with “Start Me Up 2020”. Address: Länsikatu 15, 80110 Joensuu.



01/02 – 31/03/2020.



  • Kari Melanen, Director, New Business and Internationalisation Services, Business Joensuu, chair
  • Heikki Immonen, Principal Lecturer of Entrepreneurship, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
  • Antti Vikman, Entrepreneur, Nolwenture Oy
  • Päivi Vaarala, Business Expert, North Karelia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY-keskus)
  • Annu Ahonen, Managing Director, Kontionloikka Oy



Business ideas will be assessed using the following criteria:

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



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.



Results of the competition will be published and the prizes will be presented to the winners in Joensuu on 13/05/2020. Where decisions have been made, prizes for the pilot projects will also be published on 13/05/2020.



Start Me Up funding for pilot projects can be used to accelerate product development, and to renew or develop entirely new products, services, production methods or business models. The funding makes it is possible to test and verify with customers how a new solution or service functions. The objective is to allow for the idea to be refined into a commercial product or service. A total of EUR 13,000 has been allocated for piloting ideas taking part in the business idea competition.

The decision on how to allocate the money for the pilot projects will be made by representatives of Business Joensuu’s Business Incubator and partners of the Start Me Up business idea competition.
In order to obtain funding, you will need a written plan detailing how the money would be used. The plan must be approved by the Business Incubator.

The beneficiary is under the obligation to report the results of the pilot in writing to the Business Incubator.

The pilot projects and related reporting must be completed by 31/12/2020.

The organiser reserves the right to award either 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’s Business Incubator and Start Me Up business partners are final and cannot be appealed.

The piloting will be implemented in cooperation with the Bioeconomy and Circular Economy Growth Programme of and Kontionloikka Oy.



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.
Regarding the facilities prize, the maximum size of the office 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 must be a student of the University of Eastern Finland, Karelia University of Applied Sciences or Riveria.
If you wish, you may upload a one-minute video as an attachment to your business idea to showcase your 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

Janne Pakarinen, tel. +358 40 505 8859