Relive the Skolar Award finals at Slush!

A bright stage, a massive audience and confident pitching: Let's recap the long awaited day of the Skolar Award finals. Photos ahead!

It all began backstage. 

As the finalists got ready to pitch at Slush on Friday 1.12., the jury received the last instructions for their exciting duty of evaluating the finalists’ presentations. Cancer researcher Vincenzo Cerullo hung out with fellow judges Mari Lundström, Markku Wilenius and Risto Renkonen moments before taking the stage and commenting on the finalists’ pitches.

Last year’s Skolar Award took place on a rectangular stage called the Pitching Stage. This year the stakes were higher as the finalists got to step onto the Central Stage in the middle of the venue.

This is what the stage looked like from the point of view of a spectator:

….and this is what the finalists saw from backstage:

The finals were hosted by Skolar Award organiser Annina Lattu of Kaskas Media and Mahdi Shariff, Chief Strategy Officer at Sunteng.

Annina got to wear an outfit from sustainable Finnish fashion brand Lovia. All of the brand's products, such as this festive leather skirt seen below, are made from rescued fabrics. 

After brief opening words from the competition organisers and stage jury, the ten Skolar Award finalists got to finally show the audience what they had been working on during the previous weeks.

The first one to pitch was Martti Kaasalainen. He set the bar high for the other finalists, and it stayed high for the rest of the competition.

Although the finalists admitted they were nervous before the finals, it did not show on the Slush stage at all. Anna Stöckl, Muhammad Ammad-ud-din and Ivana Trapani, among others, looked so comfortable and confident while pitching it was like they were born with mics in their hands.

As we'd anticipated, the science pitching finals attracted a big crowd. Since the Central Stage was a round platform, people gathered around it from different directions. Even the Slush representatives were baffled by the amount of of people in the audience!

Once the pitches were done the jury got together to decide the winner. As the backstage filled with excitement and expectation the main stage was taken over by two excellent Skolar Award keynote speakers: science journalist and author Torill Kornfeldt and Menghuan Zhang, the winner of Techcode x Skolar Award held at Slush Shanghai back in the fall.

And then at last it arrived, the moment everyone had been waiting for with trembling hands: the jury had chosen a winner. When Johan Seijsing from the University of Stockholm heard he won, his reaction was quite gracious. The fresh winner nodded, smiled and jogged to the stage to accept the coveted cheque of 100 000 euros.

And with that the Skolar Award finals of 2017 were over. What a ride! Once the interviews were given and press releases sent, the finalists got to enjoy some well earned beers and explore the insane tech extravaganza that is Slush.

Take one last look at this year’s brilliant finalists – these guys exceeded themselves, impressed the judges and made everyone in the audience a bit smarter.

Until next year!

Text: Kristiina Markkanen

Photos: Vilja Pursiainen