Sunglasses from algae and sailing drones – DEEP teams surprised with creativity and expertise

rThe future of the Baltic Sea is in good hands, proved DEEP – Baltic Sea Challenge at Allas Sea Pool 9.–11.2. The unique challenge brought out perhaps the most advanced bunch of ideas in the history of Helsinki Think Company challenges.

Text: Pauliina Suominen

Photos: Veeti Haapsamo

”Much better than I ever dared to imagine”, summarized Anssi Ahvonen, Team Leader of Aquaculture research at Natural Resources Institute Finland, the results of DEEP – Baltic Sea Challenge after Sunday’s final pitches.

As DEEP was a wild new experimentation with its two tracks and fixed focus on Baltic Sea businesses and policies (read more about the challenge HERE!), the organizers didn’t quite know what to expect. In the end, both the amount of applications and the quality of the 12 solutions created during the three-day challenge weekend blew everyone away. If you know Swedish, you can read more at

Expert mentoring = key to success

According to many teams, the best part of DEEP was the tailored mentoring from various content matter experts. Kenneth Kunelius from Finnish Water Forum acted as one of the mentors throughout the weekend.

”While pushing the teams forward, I realized I actually have much more knowledge than I thought. I focused a lot on productization: it’s not enough to have a great idea if you don’t know how and to whom to sell it. After the weekend feel like a few of these ideas are ready to be launched to the general public.”

Kunelius was especially impressed with the winner Bivalvia alongside with Keyline Design – a team wishing to revolutionize water management be prevention-oriented methods.

”I’d throw the ball to the government with that one. They should definitely pay for a pilot for Keyline Design.”

New collaboration around the Baltic Sea

Jone Nikula hosting the final.

Media persona, radio host and Baltic Sea lover Jone Nikula performed as the host of DEEP, sparring the teams and keeping the spirits up during the weekend. Jone described the participants as ”smart as hell”.

”There were no nonsense pitches in this bunch. My philosophy is to surround myself with people smarter than me, and this weekend I definitely got to do that on all possible levels.”

Anssi Ahvonen also pointed out the importance of the networking chances DEEP provided for the organizing parters, young talents, judges from various organizations, and Helsinki Think Company.

”This has been a mutual learning experience for all the parties involved, and I’m very much looking forward to all the new collaboration that might rise from DEEP.”

Member of the jury, Chief Communication Manager at Ålandsbanken Crista Tammela, sees events like DEEP very important in tackling complex challenges.

”To produce new innovations one must take a step back and consider the idea with time, but it is often hard to find time for this in corporate life. We really need events like DEEP where the focus is on coming up with new solutions.”

Crista encourages all innovators to apply for funding at Ålandsbanken’s the Baltic Sea Project. Application opens again in May 2018! Before that, you can stay on track by following the project on Facebook and Twitter.

As DEEP turned out to be a success, there has already been talk about DEEP 2.0. Stay tuned!

Teams and ideas


Bivalvia: A plastic replacement from algae

The jury and the winners.

Members: Anna Törnroos-Remes, Ann-Sofie Leppänen, Charlotta Risku, Pia Leppänen (Sustainability track)

Prize: 1500 € and access to John Nurminen Foundation’s networking event

IDEA: Team Bivalvia has created a two-phased business idea that combines modern 3D printing technology with fact-based storytelling. First, harmful algae and nutrients would be removed from the Baltic Sea and turned into various products, such as buttons and sunglasses, using an existing 3D printing technology. The idea doesn’t stop here: all the products would come attached with educating, science-based stories about the Baltic Sea and its condition and protection.

“Technology isn’t enough, we need to change opinions to make a difference”, the team explains.


IncreMint: Dynamic pricing to reduce perishable food waste

Members: Adi Ramesh, Manuel Racedo, Ali Akhondzada, Paula Autio (Sustainability track)

Prize: 1000 € and access to John Nurminen Foundation’s networking event

IDEA: Team Incremint’s idea focuses on food wasted caused by food retailers. At the moment, there’s a binary system of food discounts, in which food is discounted just before it’s unsellable. Team Incremint states the current system is unfair for customers, as we now pay the same prize for fresh and almost out-of-date products, and that food prices should reflect freshness. Incremint’s solution is implementing dynamic pricing through a grocery shopping app. In the new system the price of food products would sink day by day, hand in hand with freshness.


Säätäjät: Baltic Sea Collaborative Platform to unite all stakeholders

Members: Helena Marttila, Jukka Glad, Mea Lakso, Sanna Haapa, Emma Luoma, Jonna Kangasoja (Policy track)

Prize: 500 €

IDEA: The real challenge facing all the business ideas presented at DEEP is whether they meet the requirements set in a political process by legislators – in other words, whether they succeed in obtaining a permit to operate, states team Säätäjät. Presently, the various stakeholders related to the Baltic Sea operate far too detached from one another, according to their division of labor. As a solution, team Säätäjät proposes setting up a Baltic Sea Collaborative Platform bringing together the legislators, permitting authorities, the advisory groups such as industrial organizations, lobbyist, environmental organizations, and scientific research.

“Such a body would be able to jointly decide on how the public subsidies should be used in a fair manner, where the forcus of R&D activities should be, and to problem solve, and managage conflicts of interest when they occur. New businesses need a stable administrative environment, predictability, fairness, and wisdom that comes from collaborative work which takes all the relevant stakeholders and their expertise into account”, the team says.


ILLUMINATE: Fighting anoxic zones with sunlight

Members: Owen Rowe, Sonia Brugel, Benjamin Weigel, Johanna Rinta-Kanto, Alexander Rowe (Sustainability track)

IDEA: ILLUMINATEs goal is to help the Baltic Sea ecosystem help itself. Their idea and design aims to counteract eutrophication and alleviate anoxic zones in the Baltic Sea through the use of light: By transferring natural sun light via fibre optics or light via tuned LEDs to waters, where light conditions are degraded or anoxic conditions prevail, the team will catalyze oxygen production, while utilising nutrients by turning them into algal biomass. The latter would feed into the food web and result in increased fish biomass production.

“We hope to test this system in a pilot scale and apply it to aquaculture sites and shallow coastal systems, where anoxia is increasingly becoming a problem”, they say.

Aquadrone: A sailing drone to collect algae

Members: Dina Syrotkin, Lauri Paloheimo, Maria Ferdanda Mantilla, Harri Heikkinen (Sustainability track)

IDEA: The team is building an aquadrone to collect algae from the Baltic Sea and use it for production of biofertilize. The drone would be much smaller and more affordable than the massive, expensive techniques used for algae collection now. Automatization and the use of wind power would make it low-cost. Aquadrone could be used at both summer cottages, industrially, and in governmental open water operations. The multidisciplinary team’s plan is to get going with a crowdfunding campaign and after that expand into governments and finally, the general public.

Keyline Design: Revolutionizing water management with prevention-oriented design

Members: Chris Moltslag, Adrien Vettarli, Daria Shainidze, Sandra Schlöfle, Prajan Shrestha, Lilli Linhola (Sustainability track)

IDEA: Keyline Design is helping cities, farmers and urban planners manage the water in a more holistic, ecological and economical way. At the moment water in cities and farming is designed to flow away fast, instead of infiltrating it into the soil. Keyline Design wants to use gravity and nature to change this. Directing the water into soil would have multiple benefits, for example preventing floods in cities and bringing farmed soil back to life instead of depriving it. This would result in a smaller need for fertilizing, thus also benefiting the seas, Keyline Design argues.

The Baltic Compass: A book to encourage sustainable consumerism

Members: Sarah Märki, Andreas Ebneter, Stinne Vognaes (Sustainability track)

IDEA: The Baltic Compas has created a concept for an annual book that showcases suitable products good for the Baltic Sea. In addition, the book will contain science-based articles on why the Baltic Sea needs protection. With this combination the book aims to answer two questions at once: how to make better choices, and why care about sustainability in the first place – all in an appealing, stylish package. The core idea is to affect common peoples’ consumption behavior by not shaming them for the bad but by encouraging the good and inspiring them to feel for doing so.

Nomaji: Applying landscape design into marine conditions

Members: Elina Inkiläinen, Mari Ariluoma, Anni Järvitalo, Riikka Nousiainen, Varpu Mikola (Sustainability track)

IDEA: The landscape architects of team Nomaji want to lead the way towards better, more sustainable landscape design in marine areas. Their idea is to apply the principles of landscape design to create a new planning method tool and standard for urban design in marine areas. Cities should be open to test new planning tools, and theirs would make urban planning more sustainable for the Baltic Sea, Nomaji states. Read more about the team:

Deep Breath: Data-collecting drones for smarter decision-making

Members: Mira Stenman, Sergey Morozov (Sustainability track)

IDEA: Low oxygen areas are increasing in the Baltic Sea, and yet the government is cutting funds for monitoring these conditions, states team Deep Breath. To answer this problem, the team wants to produce thousands of low-cost, autonomic and customizable portable devices that collect data from the Baltic Sea and thus monitor environmental changes in it. The data would serve both scientists, governments, environmental agencies, agriculture, and the general public. Data is needed for great many purposes, such as monitoring the sea, predicting and evaluating future changes as well as identifying their causes, the team states.

Azolla Solutions: Using azolla algae to clean up the Baltic Sea

Members: Hubert Lindholm, Lucas Lindelöf (Sustainability track)

IDEA: The team plans to purify the Baltic Sea by growing Azolla plants in large scale. The floating stations of Azolla would absorb harmful nutrients and toxins and be harvested like fields, after which the collected biomass could be used for different purposes, such as for livestock feed or even human products. These biomass applications would finance the business. Blue muscles could also be raised as an extra source of business, as they have water-cleaning abilities.

Nutrient Neutrals: Creating a nutrient trade system

Members: Anna-Elsa Karika, Tanny Quickström, Tina Sommarstorm, Asko Ijäs, Rasmus Boman, Sheila Riikonen (Policy track)

Team’s idea: To improve the quality of marine ecosystems of the Baltic Sea, new innovative businesses and technologies are needed for the removal of harmful nutrients and biomass causing eutrophication, argues team Nutrient Neutrals. During DEEP, team Nutrient Neutrals reformed policy recommendations in a way that would make the removal process more profitable to the private sector. The core idea is to create a nutrient trade system similar to carbon trading.

Baltic Builders: A monetized environmental performance instrument to encourage sustainability in farming

Members: Siiri Heikkilä, Karlina Ozolina, Teemu Vaarakallio, Jack Räisänen, Sanna Haapa, Nikolay Krupen (Policy track)

Team’s idea: The main source of nutrient pollution in the Baltic is land-based agriculture, and the current methods of subsidy distribution maintain unsustainable farming practises, states team Baltic Builders. To solve this, they suggest to introducing a new monetized environmental performance instrument to encourage sustainability in farming. The new methods would take into consideration environmental performance and thus favor practises such as innovative farming, diversification of production, permaculture, and novel food practises. This would result into reduced nutrient leak into the Baltic Sea and incentives for creating economically viable innovations around the Baltic Sea.