Robotics, Aalto University // Photo by Markus Sommers

From Ideas to Impact ® – how Aalto University supports researchers to build successful businesses

Small satellite imaging to monitor natural catastrophes. Finland’s first quantum computer. Bone-lengthening and bone-deformation correction. Entrepreneurship is an effective way to apply research results for the benefit of our society as a whole. To help researchers shape their ideas into successful and scalable businesses, Aalto University has developed a unique service ecosystem.

Aalto Startup Center helps early-stage deep tech startups to build healthy, sustainable and scalable businesses. For over 20 years Aalto Startup Center has offered startups coaching, trainings and a network of investors, mentors and business developers to help them grow and scale up their business, solution and assets.

Aalto Startup Center focuses on research-based startups that are founded on breakthrough science or engineering. Its Business Generator accelerator program is open all year-round to Finnish registered deep tech startups that are less than three years old.

“Our approach combines design, business and technology. It is important that startups learn to utilize these different competences early on. Over 80 percent of the startups we’ve helped are still operational after 10 years,” says Marika Paakkala, Head of Aalto Startup Center.

Turning research inventions into business

Five years ago Aalto Startup Center teamed up with Aalto Innovation Services to better support Aalto origin researchers to cultivate their ideas into business.

Innovation Services helps Aalto origin researchers with a possible business idea to shape their idea into a startup or a prospect for licensing. Their innovation experts coach researchers on their ideas and help in intellectual property protection and management.

“We work closely with the researchers to find a commercial angle to their invention. We start by evaluating the invention and then move on to drawing up a development and commercialization plan which can involve prototyping, testing, patenting and team building,” explains Tomi Erho Head of Aalto Innovation Ecosystem Services.

At the same time, Aalto Startup Center’s business advisors help researchers with commercialization, funding, market analysis and research, as well as understanding the customer potential. If the project develops into a startup, it can continue into Aalto Startup Center’s accelerator program to further grow and scale up.

“By combining Innovation Services’ and Aalto Startup Center’s know-how, we can support researchers from an idea to an early-stage startup. Together we can work on the same project for about four to five years,” says Paakkala.

Successful examples of Aalto University’s idea to impact model are a world-leading SAR data provider ICEYE and IQM Quantum Computers, the European leader in building superconducting quantum computers, which have both raised funding for tens of millions of euros. 

KAUTE Foundation awards yearly a young researcher-entrepreneur, who has started a business based on research. Prize will be granted next time in spring 2022. Read more and nominate a candidate! 

Learn more about Aalto Startup Center

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