The goal of *ship Startup Festival is to inspire students towards entrepreneurial tracks and to offer companies a natural opportunity to get to know the talents of the future. Entrepreneur and investor Ville Leisti, who mentored at the event says that *ship has grown into a significant startup event in Finland, especially for startups in the early stages.

– The event has developed its own identity and reputation, which was shown by the fact that the visitor limit was reached and not all could be taken in. Xamk has done an incredibly great job: the event brings positive buzz and international visibility to the area! It is of great importance to the region’s vitality if as many startups as possible can stay in Southeast Finland. As a person born and raised in Kotka, I hope that *ship continues its successful story, receiving unreserved support from the municipalities and operators in the region.


– This year we’re celebrating *ship’s 10th anniversary and we hope to get more partners involved to make it a memorable festival – get in touch soon if you want to take part in organizing the event! Everyone interested is welcome to cooperate for the success of our region, sums up event captain Kerttu Mattsson.


Year’s 2023 festival was organized on 4th and 5th of May at Kotka Steam Brewery and it succeeded beyond expectations. The three best of *ship Startup Festivals Pitch Captain competition were awarded a cash prize for company development.

– There were about 200 visitors in total, both students and stakeholders from companies! There were students from all over Finland, including international students from approximately 20 countries. In addition, we received really high-quality applications for the Pitch Captain competition. 30 startups made it to the competition itself and they were coached by 25 business mentors, says development manager Minna Lehesvuori.

PikaPay from Lappeenranta was announced as the winner of the tough competition and the main prize of 10,000 euros. Their competition team included Oskari HervonenJuuso Käyhkö and Teemu Ketonen, and their product idea is a mobile application that allows you to do business and pay in stores independently. Petri Kuusela’s and Jyrki Jauhiainen‘s idea called Betomo took the second place and was awarded 3,000 euros. Their idea Betomo is for monitoring the moisture of cast concrete at construction sites using electrical imaging.

Normogames, a company consisting of Xamk students from Kotka – Niko ViitiöSamuli KosonenJaakko Mela, Ott Otsla, Ilmari Salmi and Antti Jakunaho – were placed third with their game idea. They were awarded 2,000 euros. Normogames is a Kotka-based game studio that makes accessible and fun PC games.

pitch-captain-voiton- VEI PIKAPAYpitch-captain-

Oskari Hervonen, Petri Kuusela and Niko Viitiö definitely consider networking to be the most valuable asset of the event, even though the prizes are also important for product development.

– Feelings about the competition are very good and yet again we gained valuable experience that could not be obtained elsewhere. The prize money will be invested in Pilot V2 -product development, says Hervonen.

– The event was brilliantly organized and very useful: I received valuable feedback on our business idea and its presentation, as well as experience in pitching. I will use the prize money for the first test measurements, continues Kuusela.

The Pitch Captain prizes worth 15,000 euros in total were sponsored by Google. In addition, Cursor Oy awarded Normogames with 2,000 euros for the best startup of South-Kymenlaakso.

– We will invest both the Google and Cursor awards in making a prototype, with which we will then apply for funding and a publisher. Meeting entrepreneurs and mentors is the best part of the competitions, Viitiö thanks.​​​​​​​

This year's *ship Startup Festival partners include Google and Cursor!

*ship Startup Festival’s “10th edition” will be organized again on May 16th and 17th in 2024 at Merikeskus Vellamo in Kotka. The event is a unique platform for early-stage startups and those interested in entrepreneurship. It is also a valuable learning environment for students! You have the opportunity to participate in our *Pitch Captain Competition or participate as a mentor to consult our competing startups and our visitors. You can also just come and enjoy the event and have fun!