It all started in 2015 and now 4 years later we are done.

We believe we are not done – YET – this is just the beginning

StartUp Passion was a project which offered students the possibility to explore their potential, and learn it by doing it. During the duration of the project we had 794 (!!) students participating, from numerous different countries and backgrounds. All of them with the hope to create new ventures and new life changing opportunities. We need to say, not all of them were successful, some of them gave it a try and some bulled it off. But what is more important, the fact that all of them learn from each other and learned how to do things completely on their own. The project made its impact on many people, project team, project partners and all the mentors. When we talk about learning outcome or learning curve, we need to admit it was very high. It was a true pleasure to support teams and the students around it, and see them growth and shine. We clearly can say, the project was for students and became a success because of the students; who actively participated, and developed their own ventures. Another important success factor was the project team itself and their commitment, passion and professionality, made it an award winning project.

Info graphic and summary of SUP by Sabine Suorsa

Sum up the project in a nutshell

A brief history of Startup Passion

At our info graphic you can see what really happened during the project, and the numbers of babies during the last 4 years is not fictional – it really happened. Important to mention the birthrate in Finland increased cause of StartUp Passion with 7 Babies. As a project manager, I had my challenges to find new team members. When you are working in the startup environment, one important attitude you need; be spontaneous, problem solver on a fast base, not afraid to do dirty jobs, and find solutions fast. Commitment and the willingness to work for the same goals, are one important facts as well. Throughout the project we had achieved 26 startups, and approx. 50-60 teams participated. We participated in 13 different events with our teams, and organized each year 6 events = 18 events in total we organized. We shipped our participants around the Baltic´s and beyond. The network we created and contacts we gathered are beyond our expectations. We got surprise by the talent our students have and the applicability to learn and to do things for themselves. The growth among students and also staff members was tremendous, each of us achieved and learnt something new. I, for myself, got the opportunity to be a facilitator at the Cranfield university in the UK, and to be a mentor and startup coach in Africa.

The importance to be mention is the team effort and the team behind the project:

May I introduce you to the butterfly butchers
Foto private

Ladies first – Why are we called like this? It all began already in 2014 during the Startup Summer Camp in Kotka organized by PatteriES. We three Ladies had been invited to be in the panel for a pre-pitching event at Vellamo. As we were sitting and “judging” we figured out, that each of us had some clothes with a butterfly on. During the session we figured out, each of us have a different style of judging, me the pure and brutal honest Austrian judge; Kirsi Rouhiainen the heartwarming “I love everybody” judge, and Heidi Sjögren the businesslike-always-the-right-question judge. A good combination of three lovely Lady´s which, by the end of each panel, are just meaning it good, even if some of the participants cry. This is how we became the “Butterfly Butchers” In the project Cursor was our Lead Partner and Heidi the PM, nowadays she is even our new college, as a Research Manager of Digital Economy in Kotka. But we also became friends and enjoy each others company.

The male section of the StartUp Passion project
Foto by Tapio Auvinen (

Another important member of the team and the brain and idea generator behind the project is Ari Lindeman. His idea of creating and developing not only student-based startup teams, but also cross-border startup coaching approaches. As well as, to find out their commitment , strengths and challenges regarding its process. The cross-border coaching perspectives are supplemented by the coaches and mentors reflections and also the cultural perspective. Ari is a strong believer in people and their applicability to achieve the most out of their potential, that makes him in all kind of ways an asset. Next in the line is for sure our one and only Antti Leppilampi our media guru and SoMe specialist. He made a wonderful documentation of our project, which is a collection of all our Live-videos and interviews during the project. We had plenty to laugh during the project and he is truly blessed with lots of positive energy and many good ideas in mind.

Foto private

The StartUp Passion project team was not only working with those mention above, others like Marianne Roslund (Startup MOOC), Teijo Javanainen (Startup MOOC), Niina Mässeli (Startup MOOC), Ksenia Sharapova (Startup MOOC) and many others. All those team members, made the project an award winning project. With true honesty we can say, there were no unpleasant working days during the project. We had a great communication and all of us were working for the same goal, to make the students proud of themselves.

Now we are heading to ISRAEL – to explore the startup ecosystem

Our team won in 2018 the ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL PROJECT WITH A GLOBAL TWIST by the Finnish Entrepreneurship Federation. We now have the opportunity to explore new borders, and great new ventures for our students. We will travel to ISRAEL this month, and seek for new possibilities to cooperate. This November, Innocamp Virtual Incubator in cooperation with ISRAELI COLLEGE. During our 5-days stay we have planned to visit universities, startup seminars, co-working spaces and meet like-minded people, to explore new options.

There will be more to come and more to explore

Last but not least

I would like to THANK all the people behind the project. Four years went fast and I am grateful for this experience and all the support I got, during the time. I learnt much even my Finnish language skills are better, but I could explore my own potential and achieved my own goals.




Sabine Suorsa

Project Manager – Projektipäällikkö

RDI – Expert – TKI asiantuntija

RDI Creative Industry – TKI Luovat Alat