Recently ArcticStartup organized Reverse Pitching, providing an opportunity for big corporations to reach out to startups. We were very positively surprised by the interest in the idea where we put the big ones on stage pitching, while startups would be listenining and asking questions afterwards. As a proof of that interest, the event gathered more than 200 passionate startup entrepreneurs who, when asked if there were “any startups in the house?”, loudly cheered.

In the fully packed Festival Hall of Helsinki EnterpriseCastle, enthusiastic entrepreneurs were joined by a (smallish) group of large corporation representatives seeking contact with the startup world. The themes of the day were Internet of Things and eCommerce and the courageous corporations ready jump on stage were Itella, Ericsson and Tieto.

First on stage was a “376 years old startup” Itella, which will change it’s name back to a more familiar Posti at the start of 2015. Itella’s pitch was really impressive. They are in the process of launching a new eCommerce platform which will include a pipeline to the Russian internet shopping markets and they were very open to admit that they cannot resolve all the related challenges alone and that they need the help of startups. Thumbs up for that approach! Lively discussion sparked after the pitch was over and questions were flying back and forth (thanks to CatchBox of course). We will definitely hear more from them very soon, as they also announced that they will set up a fund, with other partners, to support ecommerce startups aiming to expand to Russian markets. Any sanctions placed do not concern private consumption on a personal level so Russians keep ordering stuff from other countries and Itella will deliver them. So keep your ears wide open for more Posti news coming soon.

Second up was the Swedish ICT and telecommunications giant Ericsson presenting their Networked Society concept, in which “the connectivity will be the starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socializing.” Internet of Things is here and the amount of connected devices is about to blow through the roof. It surpassed the amount of human beings couple of years ago, passed the 10 billion mark recently and the growth curve shows that by 2020 there will be over 50 billion “machines” connected. Of course this growth requires significant improvements on the wireless broadband networks and Ericsson announced already last summer that they successfully hit a milestone speed of 5gbps, but of course expect to have much higher speeds when we’ll have 5G commercially available. Ericsson wants to work with startups and are also looking to hire some good talent.

Third corporate to take the stage was Tieto with Taneli Tikka who has been leading their internal, autonomous “startup” team of Industrial Internet for six months now. Tieto’s approach to IoT is very interesting, they are on a mission to “Save the Nordic Industry”. Naturally being a software house, they are looking at the whole digital business design and exploring ways to link social and mobile networks, intelligent machines and data & analytics to a same platform and integrate business services on top of all that. Tieto has their own data centres, IoT innovation lab and existing partnerships with the likes of IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft, complemented of course with open source providers. Tieto is open to do almost anything with startups: hardware, sensors, data & analytics, lean & agile, vertical expertise, they want to partner up with you. If you are interested to join their core team, they definitely are looking to hire some technical and data science folks. After the pitch, Taneli could not move for 40mins as the line to talk to him just did not get any shorter.

Clearly we are on the right track towards building the bridge for startups and corporates coming to work together. Having already one brilliant local example in Helsinki, GE Health Innovation Village we are very confident to say these are just the first steps and there is a lot more to come. GE has been a real pioneer with setting up a coworking space and accepting already 20 health related startups to reside at their Health Innovation Village. Even though most of the startups are not even close to GE Healthcare’s core business, it does not matter to them. As Didier Deltort, Managing Director of GE Finland said at the official opening in the end of October: “Living close to startups, exchanging ideas and eventually working together on innovative projects is fresh thinking. Eventually, this benefits our customers, too.”

This kind of reaching out from the large corporations looking for great talent and cooperation truly is a fresh breath of air and most likely it will keep on sparking more and more. We have already received several contacts from Sweden and the Baltics regarding bringing Reverse Pitching there. We are in the startup helping business and if they ask us to bring it closer to them, we will definitely look into it and try to find a way to do it. So if you have some ideas and suggestions regarding big companies brave enough in your area, and especially startups who can identify potential partners in the giants, give us a shout at Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below. You can also send us an e-mail.

If you want to get in contact with the corporations who participated in the Reverse Pitching 2.0 regarding the themes presented, here are the contact details.

Itella: Sakari Kaukinen, Partner Director: sakari.kaukinen[at]itella.com
Ericsson: Jarne Atsar, Innovation Advisor: jarne.atsar[at]ericsson.com
Tieto: Taneli Tikka, Head of Industrial Internet: taneli.tikka[at]tieto.com