Finland hosts RYE Connect Conference and Cool Awards

The 3rd and final RYE Connect conference took place in Levi, Finland from 23rd to 26th January 2018.

Finland hosts RYE Connect Conference and Cool Awards

This conference was the culmination of work that RYE Connect has been doing with youth entrepreneurship for the past 3 years. The event brought together partners, stakeholders and young entrepreneurs to promote further networking, sharing of knowledge and the development of new sustainable businesses. 

The conference involved keynote speakers from Greenland and Finland as well as the Young Entrepreneurs' Cool Awards which sought to award young entrepreneurs in 5 different categories.

Vying for the Cool Awards were 9 finalists representing Greenland, Finland and Northern Ireland. 5 category awards were on offer and each finalist had to pitch their business to a panel of judges. The winners were announced as followed:
• Overall Winner – William Wood, The Osteopathic Way (Northern Ireland)
• Best Pitch Winner – Olli Kähkönen, The Great Escape (Finland)
• One to Watch – Joel Cuddy, Swift Wireless (Northern Ireland)
• Most Innovative – Jens-Christian Jakobsen, (Greenland)
• Place Based – Naasunnguaq Lund, Riding Greenland (Greenland)

Completing the line-up of finalists were, from Finland: Aleksi Moilanen (Kainuu IT Solutions), and Tanja Ihalainen (Fii Wellbeing); from Greenland: Aannguaq Jerimiassen (Qasigiannguit Tourism & Charter) and from Northern Ireland: Esther Weatherup (Esther Couture).

Following the conference, a playlist of videos shot during the conference has been uploaded to YouTube. Click on the link below to view:

Spotlight on The Cool Awards Winners

Overall winner – William Wood, The Osteopathic Way (Northern Ireland)

William, 26, is from Newcastle, Co. Down, a coastal town in Northern Ireland. He attended RYE workshops during November/December 2017.

William has been running a successful osteopathic clinic in Newcastle, County Down, for the last 2 years called The Osteopathic Way. It is a holistic healthcare practice which helps clients overcome injuries whilst promoting long-term health. Following a steady increase in numbers William is seeking to expand his business into a new clinic space and bring in additional complementary therapies such as Pilates and Yoga.

William’s plans include moving to a new clinic space, offering greater availability of appointments along with movement based classes, retailing of health products, utilising complementary therapists, offering packages to sports teams and clubs and eventually the release of the clinic’s own branded health products based on the healing nature of the local area.

Best Pitch Winner – Olli Kähkönen, The Great Escape (Finland)

Olli Kähkönen is 25 and from Kajanni, Finland. Studying in his first year in KAMK, he, along with a group of students wanted to start a business. After some brainstorming the idea of ‘The Great Escape’ was born. They had little business experience and RYE Start provided them with support and a mentor who offered much need advice especially in the early days.

‘The Great Escape’ is a real-life escape room. The main idea is to try to get out of a locked room within 60 minutes by solving different kinds of puzzles and mysteries in groups of 2 - 6 people.

Speaking about the conference he said; “It’s a really great honour for me to participate in one of these unique conferences and meet up a lot of new ambitious people from all around the world sharing the same passion – Entrepreneurship. My next step is to write a book about young entrepreneurs and I got some tips for that from the people I met in the conference in Levi.”

Place Based – Naasunnguaq Lund, Riding Greenland (Greenland)

Naasu Lund (27) and her husband Piitaq took over his family farm at Inneruulalik in Greenland. Naasu won the award for Best place-based business, which is awarded to a project that takes advantage of the resources and opportunities in a particular local area.

Alongside farming 500 sheep over 31 hectares, Naasu and Piitaq were keen to increase income whilst continuing to farm. They developed a business providing guesthouse accommodation and horseback riding tours for tourists.

The tours offer riders an opportunity to experience the most beautiful Greenlandic nature: icebergs, green valleys, mountains, lakes, farms, rivers and glaciers. Naasu is keen to grow the business, expand to 20 horses and create more jobs.

Most Innovative – Jens-Christian Jakobsen, (Greenland)

Jens-Christian, 25, along with friend Nicolai Kreutzmannl, opened Paju,gl, Greenland's first online grocery store, in December 2017. Jens-Christian participated in the RYE Programme and described it as a great experience. The opportunity to meet other young entrepreneurs and get feedback on the business was very useful.
Customers order online from the website and delivers the orders directly to the customers’ door. Jens-Christian has great expectations for the future of the business.

About the awards he said: “It was a pleasure to meet many young entrepreneurs during the trip. Thanks to those who have helped shape our small business and look forward to working with you in the future.”

One to Watch – Joel Cuddy, Swift Wireless (Northern Ireland)

Joel Cuddy, 18, is from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Joel attended the RYE workshops in his local college in early 2017.

Joel has long had a passion for entrepreneurship and was involved in business ventures during his school days. His business, Swift Wireless, seeks to offer a transformative new piece of technology that will grant internet access regardless of location.

As advancements in Wi-Fi technology proceed, Joel believes this offers an opportunity to create giant hotspots with a range of up to 100 km that people can connect to via the Wi-Fi hubs in their own homes. Joel’s plan is to incorporate this technology into radio towers and sell them to internet providers to expand their internet infrastructure.