This year, UPM Biochemicals had the honour to participate in a very interesting and important project. Together with five partners we sought for solutions to everyday challenges of cancer patients. The successful pilot project showed that Finland has a great deal of high-level competence, enthusiasm, and energy.
An increasing number of people get cancer in some phase of their life. Unfortunately, in Finland it happens to one third of us, and the experience is always unique. Luckily the majority also recovers, and Finnish cancer treatment is among the best in the world. We have a multitude of solutions for a better regimen, but the detected problems and the created solutions don’t always meet. The Kertomalla paranee (‘improve by sharing’) project wanted to connect the dots so that cancer patients could keep living their daily lives as normally as possible. We wanted to find ideas that would improve cancer treatment and the procedures of hospitals. The project also aimed at creating new business and growth.
The principle of the project was simple. On our campaign website, we asked cancer patients, their close ones and hospital personnel, what kinds of challenges they wished to get solutions to. In our Kertomalla paranee competition, we invited start-ups and innovation groups to find solutions for the problems brought up by the interest groups. Nine start-ups made it to the final, and the winning trio was awarded. Their solutions were picked for further development.
In four months, we received over 220 answers, ideas, and suggestions for development areas. We grouped the ideas and introduced four central development areas to the start-ups: communication in and out of the hospital, future patient clothing, comfortable hospital, and wig 2.0.
The creativity, enthusiasm and ideas of the groups truly surprised us, and choosing the winners was very hard in the end. The winning trio had created agile mobile and virtual applications as well as functional patient clothing. Their solutions will make the cancer patients’ experiences considerably better, but the competition also featured several other solutions that deserve further development.
Diverse partners fortify each other
The partners in the Kertomalla paranee project had different backgrounds and competences that supported each other very well. The HUCH Comprehensive Cancer Center is a top unit on an international scale. HealthSPA is a lively non-profit association for health startups. Novartis provides healthcare solutions and invests considerably in heathcare R&D. Helsinki Business Hub aims to make Helsinki the best place in Europe to accelerate business. Sitra is a future fund that invests in research and promotes Finnish collaboration, development, and growth. UPM Biochemicals offers new innovations for biomedicine.
It was a joy to witness the strong energy and high-level competence in Finnish start-ups. The project was so successful that HUCH will test the method in its other units as well. The concept is scalable in many fields outside healthcare. When the networks of interest groups meet the sponsoring of partners and the creativity of start-ups, great ideas and solutions are born.
Out of the offices and research sanctums
The Kertomalla paranee project is now over for our part. The experience was very positive, and UPM Biochemicals has had a great year in other sectors as well. We are continuing our joint project with The Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki. The project investigates the application of UPM’s new cellulose-based gel material for cancer research. The preliminary results have been promising, and we are taking small but firm steps forward.
Our collaboration with FIMM and our participation in the Kertomalla paranee project have given us clear evidence as to why we should step out of our offices as often as possible.
Collaboration is extremely important – especially when creating new things, and discussions with partners teach all parties. Varied backgrounds, competences and views create the best possible result. That is what we will also aim at next year.