From football fields to the circular economy - Tia Jaakonsaari dreams about creating sustainable solutions for algae cultivation

For the third time, Haaga-Helia is coordinating the Finnish part of the international ClimateLaunchpad green business ideas competition. Tia Jaakonsaari, a bachelor of hospitality management student who develops sustainable solutions for algae cultivation, is one of the numerous alumni of the competition.

Pia Jaakonsaari
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Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences is hosting the Finnish part of the international ClimateLaunchpad competition (CLP) for the third time. The competition is organized in cooperation with Laurea and Metropolia Universities of Applied Sciences. 

CLP is a low-threshold startup and innovation competition where participation does not require an entrepreneurial background.

This is well known to professional footballer and Haaga-Helia’s hospitality management student Tia Jaakonsaari, who participated in the competition last year. To her, the CLP served as a good springboard to the world of circular economy and product development.

— For me, the ClimateLaunchpad turned out to be only positive. In the competition, you can improve your idea with the help of feedback from the experts and at the same time network with other people interested in the circular economy.

ACCORDING to Jaakonsaari, competition should not be underestimated, although it may be possible to get in just on the basis of an idea. The level is tough and many participate with a team that has already begun the development of their idea.

She believes that she might have been the only one who took part alone - and as a student. Others, she says, were masters and doctorates.

– That can be a bit of a snag, but it’s worth remembering that you’re competing for yourself. It’s an utter waste of time to think about the achievements of others when you are just starting out with what they have been doing for a long time.

The fear of failure or a “bad idea” is futile, as participants get mentoring from the best professionals in the field who are more than eager to guide them in further developing the idea, pitching, and founding a successful startup.

NOWADAYS, the circular economy is a matter of heart to Jaakonsaari. The professional footballer, who originally studied to be a restaurant chef but ended up in the University, became acquainted with the circular economy during her studies at Haaga-Helia. The circular economy made the pieces fall into place..

– The circular economy took me completely with it. It felt like I had finally found the missing piece.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise, that her competitive idea, Nocturne, was also closely linked to the circular economy. According to Jaakonsaari, Nocturne aims to provide solutions for the sustainable cultivation of seaweed and ways to adapt to the acidification of water bodies.

– The idea originated in exchange in South Korea and when I traveled to the Azores, both of which make extensive use of seaweed.

The name, on the other hand, comes from the poem Nocturne by Finnish national poet Eino Leino, which emphasizes the beauty of nature and its value. According to Jaakonsaari, the poem also reflects her own thoughts of the world.

WHILE NOCTURNE did not bring her an international victory in the ClimateLaunchpad competition, Jaakonsaari has not abandoned the idea. On the contrary, it gave her an extra impetus to study more and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills so that the further development of the idea could be carried out safely.

Jaakonsaari says that she also took part in the nationwide Food Business Challenge, where Nocturne took second place. For this, she says, is to thank not only Haaga-Helia but also CLP as well. The lessons she learned at CLP helped her pitch the idea.

– I think it would be great to make Nocturne run in four years, but let's see what the future holds when it comes.

Her next step will be an internship at the Helsinki Distillery, with whom she has also talked about testing new ideas. After that, it’s time to write a thesis, which will deal with the possibilities of using Finnish algae. Who would have guessed?

Finnish ClimateLaunchpad registration is open until May 30. Registration is can be done here.

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