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Near Helsinki, Aalto University “ A Grid” nourishes startups

“A Grid” is the Finnish home for 140 startups and a thriving entrepreneurship community.

Aalto University loves entrepreneurs. Its thriving formal and informal curriculums help people start and run their own businesses.

Aalto students organise Slush, one of the world’s leading startup events, held in Helsinki every autumn.

Aalto has even built a home for startups: A Grid, a 25,000-square-metre building on their Otaniemi campus, just west of Helsinki.

A Grid has offices for other groups in the startup ecosystem, such as multinational corporations, the European Space Agency and the world’s first UN Technology Innovation Lab. Yet young, innovative companies are what is most exciting about A Grid; we take a look at three of the coolest startups in residence.

Beyond the line of sight

Grocery delivery is nothing new around the world, but it is unusual – at the moment, anyway – to have your food delivered by an autonomous drone. Third Space Auto has demonstrated its capabilities to deliver small packages by drone around the Aalto campus.

“It isn’t simple for a drone to fly beyond the line of sight without an operator,” says Third Space Auto cofounder Arshia Gratiot. “We built the platform to enable autonomous vehicles. It has to know where and how to fly, as well as how to land. Let’s say it has a landing spot, but there happens to be a person standing there.”

Third Space Auto uses AI so that a drone can plan a new path if it recognises a potential collision, such as powerlines or an unexpected person on the landing spot.

“This isn’t just about delivering your burrito,” Gratiot says. “We are also testing autonomous boats to pick up plastic in the water. It even works as a fleet management system for multiple drones.

“Coming to A Grid was the best decision I made. They have a young, dynamic team who never say, ‘No, you can’t try that technology here.’ I’ve even brought my two kids to A Grid, and no one complained about them playing. It’s a very supportive atmosphere.”

“It can take a university eight years to start graduating people with degrees in a new field,” Jäänvirta says. “We can start training people on a new skill in eight minutes. There’s a lot of negativity about the future of work. Don’t be afraid because you need to learn new skills.”

You can read the full press release here.

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