Jul 6, 2017 Annina Huhtala
Slush is a playground for disruptors and daredevils not afraid to take a risk or to fail. In 2016, Slush proved to be a great place for a group that has a lot in common with the usual Slush crowd: researchers. Science and startups collided in a science pitching competition where ambitious postdoc researchers pitched novel research ideas for the Skolar Award, a 100 000 euro grant. Although researchers might not exactly feel comfortable on a grand stage, swallowing your anxiety and sharing your work with a relatively unusual audience is an incredible learning process, says last year’s Skolar Award winner, researcher Virpi Virjamo. “If we keep on going through the same processes everyone ends up doing the same safe thing. Skolar Award was about courageous ideas and taking risks”, she says. Virjamo hails from the University of Eastern Finland, and the aim of her research is to find new antibiotics in coniferous trees.
This year at Slush there’s a lot to experience for scientists, including the Skolar Award 2017. The stronger emphasis on science comes at a good time since recently scientists around the world have been facing new obstacles, both economical and ideological. There’s a dire need for public platforms for scientists to get their voices heard and share all the impossibly difficult things they do in their daily work. That is also why Skolar Award exists. At best, spreading scientific knowledge leads to higher societal impact, better research, and game-changing companies. Take Gold&Green Foods, for example – the wildly successful research-based business selling a protein-packed meat substitute made from oats. Or Valo Therapeutics, a startup company founded by Skolar Award finalist Vincenzo Cerullo, which is developing a vaccine against cancer. Although we at the Skolar Award believe research is the root of all innovations, its basic value shouldn’t be forgotten. The Skolar Award celebrates the scientific ambition of postdoc researchers and their novel research ideas. This means ideas are not required to be commercially applicable in order to qualify for the award. The application period begins on August 25 and the pitching finals take place at Slush on December 1, 2017. The Skolar Award is organized by science communications agency Kaskas Media and is funded jointly by several Finnish foundations.
For more information, check out www.skolaraward.com!
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