During the three-day visit to Jyväskylä at the end of September, a delegation of startups from Bizkaia learned about the various collaboration opportunities available in Jyväskylä and Finland. Many of them were impressed by the vibrant sport, health and well-being ecosystem we have in Jyväskylä.
Altogether six health, sport and well-being startups traveled to Jyväskylä: Isauki, Active Parks, Kimet Sport, Universal Omics, Fisify and Innomy-Biotech.
Read more about the delegation and startups here.
"One door is now open"
Isauki is a Spanish food-tech startup developing plant-based seafood including algae. Their products are highly nutritious, allergy-free, vegan alternatives that mimic the taste and texture of, for people who care about their well-being and the welfare of the ocean for example, shrimp, squid and baby eel.
The R&D Food Engineer, Sara Núñez-Romero López, was part of the Bizkaia delegation attending the Jyväskylä Innovation Bridge. She referred to the Jyväskylä Hub ecosystem as "super interesting." Isauki as a startup shared interfaces with Jamk BioBooster, which develops and researches the bio economy sector and provides accelerator and innovation programmes for companies in the sector.
"As a company, we aim to make a positive impact on the environment and society. The Jyväskylä ecosystem shares values aligned with Isauki's mission – prioritizing well-being and health," she said.
In Finland, Isauki is seeking both collaboration and new markets.
"At the moment, we are opening markets in Spain, and our mission is to expand to other European countries as well," Núñez-Romero López explained.
While opening new markets, Isauki is developing its products and looking for new partners with interesting nutritional offerings. "In Finland, potential partners could include companies such as Solar Foods or EniferBio," she added.
Fascinated by their first visit to Jyväskylä, Núñez-Romero López is eager to return. She was inspired by the visit to the Startup Factory.
"I hope I can return. I see potential here, not only for our products but also in understanding how the Finnish startup ecosystem culture operates. I want to learn more about the ecosystem, and the market and make collaborations, as Isauki can add positive value to the Finnish society and ecosystem. One door is now open."
During the pitching Day, arranged at local co-working society Crazy Town, Sara Núñez-Romero López got a chance to discuss and share ideas with Iñaki Markinez.
Substantial markets for AI-based tools
Universal Omics, founded in 2021, is a start-up company that relies on data and AI to create the most accurate and precise nutrient-based drug designs for addressing cardiac disease. The primary target audiences for Universal Omics are the pharmaceutical industry and scientific and clinical research centres.
The founder and CEO of the company, Matxalen Uriarte, states that the development process has been intensive, but the first version of DRUP, a drug predictor for arrhythmia, is now ready for testing.
"The next step would be to find a new partner, perhaps here in Jyväskylä or Finland, to test the tool and understand how a real customer, like a pharmaceutical company, would use it and what kind of needs they might have," she says.
In Finland, Uriarte sees several other opportunities to explore. The mutual interest lies in technology and AI but also in the health research projects done at the University of Jyväskylä.
"I believe we can learn a lot from each other. Our mission is to apply this technology to the community to have a social impact. If you can provide us with population data, we will know how to process and segment it and provide personalised results on how to treat specific conditions in arrhythmia or other cardiac dysfunctions," she explains.
The close-knit Finnish community and market make it easier to find technology partners and pilot customers, not to mention the dynamic spirit.
"I appreciate the sense of community that you have here. It's this sense of community that could help us connect with pharmaceutical companies or other stakeholders and make us all benefit from it."
Uriarte estimates that the tool will be ready for the market in about four months. According to her, the market potential is substantial. Uriarte explains that in this sector, it's common to see small start-ups offering their services to the big industry.
"But at the same time, it's challenging to secure a meeting with these larger companies and reach agreements," she points out.
"We have an alternative strategy: we would like to find a partner, perhaps a company similar to us – a biotech company based on AI – that would be interested in complementing their tools with ours. We believe that by working together, we can gain access to the major pharmaceutical companies as well. Maybe we'll find such a company here in Finland," she ponders.
"I want the best players on our team"
Kimet Sport offers an intelligent methodology for comprehensive sports training planning. The methodology initially focused on football but is applicable to many other sports, such as basketball and volleyball. Kimet Sport caters to a wide range of clients, from amateurs to professionals and from individual customers like coaches to high-level sports federations.
While you can hardly categorize Kimet Sport as a start-up – the company has been thriving for 13 years – the team and the company culture resemble that of a startup.
Kimet Sport was founded by Gari Fullaondo. When he began as a junior football coach for his own children 15 years ago, he lacked a training methodology and had to create his own plan.
"I started Kimet Sport because I wanted to offer all junior football coaches a training program I never had myself," he explains.
"My vision is a world where all children play according to our methodology."
Gari Fullaondo discussed with Audra Shallal from EBAN and Corenvest and Olatz Goitia from BEAZ Bizkaia during the pitching event.
The Kimet methodology is utilized by five major football clubs in Spain and in more than 100 countries internationally – although not yet in Finland.
"What I'm seeking in Jyväskylä are two things: new market opportunities and potential new technology partners," Fullaondo summarizes.
He mentions that when it comes to methodology and sports, the team is highly skilled but could improve in technology.
"Football is a team sport, and Kimet is a team. I have very good strikers, but not as strong defenders or midfielders. And as a coach, I naturally want the best players on my team," he laughs.
"Finland is strong in sports and technology. There are a lot of people in Jyväskylä with excellent knowledge, strong connections, and a deep understanding of the sports business. That's why this collaboration is beneficial for us," he explains.
Fullaondo has planned his visit to Finland meticulously. In addition to active days and meetings with the Jyväskylä Innovation Bridge delegation, he has scheduled his own meetings with the national football federation in Helsinki. The tour will then continue to Stockholm, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway.
"Kimet Sport can be purchased by an individual coach, but getting a major federation interested is an opportunity for all sports clubs associated with the federation. Sometimes, a customer becomes a partner," Fullaondo says.
Startups, join the visit to Biscay!
In April there will be a startup delegation from Jyväskylä visiting the Biscay ecosystem under the Innovation Bridge programme. If you are interested in opening connections to the Biscay region you can already register to get more information in due course: