On the 10th and 11th of June marked the first time that the Upgraded Life Festival took place in Otaniemi, the event that became the largest in its field in Europe.
The event itself drew in over 650 registrations with a very diverse audience ranging from students, fitness enthusiasts, doctors, entrepreneurs and top executives representing some of the most well known health companies present in Finland.
Finland has long had an infatuation with health and more precisely, personal health, both in terms of lifestyle and also fast adoption to the latest gizmos and gadgets. Many foreigners remark that Finns do things “100%”, whether it is Kimi Raikkonen driving full throttle in an F1 race car or a group of friends who love heavy metal music. It is safe to say that biohacking, quantified self and the wearables and device scene is shaping up to be the next lifestyle movement.
This passion has been simmering away for around 18 months, for it was 18 months ago that the HealthSPA cluster was founded, on the basis of forming a co-creation, open innovation environment where “steaming hot innovation” is using the varying fields of expertise in the health industry. There have been a couple of activities that HealthSPA has taken part of, for example Slush last November and then more recently Mobile World Congress, where about a dozen promising startups took part in the worlds largest ICT event in Barcelona.
Upgraded Life Festival was a logical next step for HealthSPA and together with the Quantified Self & Biohacking Finland the event was formed and took place.
The obvious question here is “Why the name – Upgraded Life Festival?”
The answer is simple really. We felt that far too often in the industry the happiness is left out of the equation. I mean, the very nuts and bolts of health is that you feel good, right? It was felt that far too often we adopt a strict business mindset to health and often forget the very meaning of WHY we love the field. We didn’t want to create another trade show or fair, but instead we wanted to have a more relaxed and approachable environment for the community – a festival sounded just right for us. That coupled with the “Upgraded Life” concept in general really allowed for both the communities to show the feeling and passion behind the event. To create a fun, exciting and edgy event that allowed participants not only to learn about new products, devices and ways to be more productive, but to allow them to walk away from the event with knowledge, tools and a sense of empowerment that would lead to an improved life in general.
During the first day of the event we were treated to real collection of mind exploration and nutrition hacks with Teemu Arina and a great cast of forward thinkers in the Quantified Self space. There was even a coffee battle, where two teams were to create the most powerful coffee using a various amount ingredients that are known to enhance the overall nutritional value of a cup of coffee. The excitement was definitely there…….even before the coffee!
The second day comprised of some of the giants in the corporate world. GE Healthcare, Samsung, Nokia were amongst those who were present and certainly extremely active in engaging with individuals and also a highly interesting bunch of startups who were demoing. The second day saw an entirely new concept in play, with the formation of “clinics” throughout the event venue, Open Innovation House. The clinics were designed for individuals and startups who wanted to book time with industry professionals (clinicians) and featured a host of different topics, ranging from UI/UX design, legal and financial advisors to business model workshops and also recruitment/talent acquisition. The layout was so that anyone could make an appointment with the clinicians and discuss, free of charge, one on one in a desired field. The feedback has been excellent since, with many new ideas created and a boatload of knowledge transferred and shared during the process.
This is right at the very heart of the HealthSPA concept. If we think of ourselves as penguins, we must simply huddle together and face the sometimes harsh world together, rather than freeze alone. Finland is already a small country, it is too small to divide it smaller and smaller. Power in numbers.
We also saw the launch of HardwareHEL which is the newly formed hardware/devices cluster who will be working hand in hand with HealthSPA. One of the real highlights of the event were some of the fascinating panel discussions, namely “Its called Hardware, not easy ware”, featuring Tero Mennander (PulseOn), Ville Simola (Check My Level), Timo Kauppila (Catchbox) and Kalle Määttä (Pure Waste Textiles).
Other popular “sweatshops” operating in the latter half of the day featured headlines such as: “gotta have blinking LED´s”, “Connected devices are soooo 2015!” and “Beyond rounded corners 101″.
And culminated with the first inaugural Wearable Wednesday Helsinki panel discussion, that saw MetaWatch CEO Juha Pinomaa, Suunto CEO Mikko Moilanen, PulseOn CEO Tero Mennander and the “Autographer”, Simon Randall give future insights into connectivity in hardware and raised questions such as “when will we see the killer apps in the wearable world?” and “ when will we see more fashion forward devices?”
The most impressive part throughout this whole event, has been the interaction between people who are heavily involved in the industry through business or other, and the student or individual who is simply just an enthusiast in the field. This was certainly planned for, but to the level that it actually occurred was an extremely positive surprise. Health care, whether that may be preventative (wellness) or treatment based, touches all of us in one way shape or form. This was one of the first events in Finland where this level of interaction was made possible.
The next steps are looking forward to Slush! HealthSPA will again feature at the event this year, in what is already being described as one of the largest sections inside of Slush this year. There will be many of the old guard present at the stand, but by the time November swings around, we should already be talking about a fresh batch of startups. HealthSpa is looking forward to seeing many more eager, future thinking enthusiasts at Slush and based on the feedback from Upgraded Life Festival attendees this should be the first of many successful events to come.
You can follow HealthSPA on Facebook for more updates and for more information please contact HealthSPA at info[at]healthspa.fi.
Text: Leigh Ewin