Valerie Vlasenko, Arctic15

23 May 2018

Ahead of the Arctic15 conference next week in Helsinki, Finland, we spoke to Valerie Vlasenko who is leading the efforts for the space business applications track at the event. Spaceoneers will be attending both days of the event on 30-31 May.

Arctic15 are offering Spaceoneers readers a 15% discount on all tickets including startup demo stands with the code “SPACEONEERS15“.

How did Arctic15 come about?

Arctic15 is an annual conference here in Helsinki that takes place every Spring. There are two main startup events here: SLUSH, which takes place in November-December and Arctic15, which kicks off in spring.

Arctic15 started off some 7 years ago as a pitching competition – a startup event where the 15 most promising startups from the Nordics and Baltics could come on stage and present their ideas. The event gathered the startup ecosystem in Helsinki bringing together a mix of investors and corporate clients.

That’s how it started – from a small event of just 300 people to a two-day event with over 2000 people coming from all over the world. This year the event takes place on 30-31 May.

How did you choose the 15 tracks? What makes these topics significant?

This year we wanted to experiment a bit and turned the concept of pitching competition upside down. Instead of 15 startups pitching to investors we decided to give the opportunity for investors to interact and commit, on the spot, to any of the 15 selected startup projects. This year we are going to celebrate 15 deals done right on the spot. We are moving away from the startup rockstar mentality. Business is not about going on stage and winning a prize. It’s about being persistence, and working hard towards success.

“15” stands not only for 15 deals, but also for 15 different industries that are emerging in the Nordics and Baltics right now. We selected those that are the most active in the region right now. For example, virtual reality (VR) is very big in the region – not only in the field of gaming, but also in healthcare, manufacturing and construction. Same goes for space – it is an emerging field with many new startups appearing every year, which open up a new dimension to other industries, such as maritime, forestry, big data etc.

I believe that by bringing together 15 different industries, we can help a lot of businesses to unfold new potential in the areas they haven’t event considered before.

Space business applications track at Arctic15 exploring “Limitless Space For Opportunities”. Credit: Arctic15

WhAT MAKES space such an attractive topic AND WHAT IS YOUR AIM WITH THE TRACK?

The idea with the space track is to show that space technology and space data can be applicable to various industries across the region. We aim to explore how space technology can be applied to fields like healthcare, maritime, smart cities or VR, for example. My personal goal is to bring attention to this and help others to connect with one of the most inspiring areas in business.

One of the problems right now is that many industries are simply not ready for space. They do not know how to use space technology to support their business. I believe that needs to be changed. Bringing space applications to an event like Arctic15 helps to open up the theme of space to other business and start a dialogue.

Another problem is that there are a lot of young, talented people passionate about space and willing to do something in the field, but they simply to do know how to do so. In Arctic15’s Space Business Applications track we are going to explore various options to start a business in space together with ESA Business Applications, as well as new space investors and entrepreneurs.


Space hasn’t been featured much in business events here in Finland, and definitely has not been linked to other sectors on such a scale. In this sense, Arctic15 is a perfect platform for entrepreneurs to connect with people from various business backgrounds and expand their business network. It’s a place to learn from others, get and advice, negotiate funding, find team members, explore the opportunities – there are all the tools at your disposal to develop a firm business case.

WHAT IS “DEAL ROOM” AND How does IT help with more efficient networking?

Deal Room is a matchmaking application, which aims to connect people at events. Arctic15 is all about efficiency and Deal Room makes networking as efficient as it can possible be at the event with 2000 people.

How can Deal Room help space entrepreneurs?

Just the same way as any other entrepreneurs – by facilitating quality networking.

The main focus of Arctic15 is on matchmaking and the Deal Room enabling people to meet each other.

Deal Room gives access to all attendees at the event. People can arrange 20-minutes long face-to-face meetings right on the spot. There are spaces of different kinds from smaller tables for 1-on-1’s or small groups to larger ones for teams and board meetings.

A COMMON ISSUE IS FUNDING. How do you help startups engage with investors?

There are plenty of opportunities for new space startups to secure funding. The biggest space investor in Europe, European Space Agency, will leads the track and is our main partner. Then, we have many angel investors who are interested in space and willing to invest in new space companies, as well as space focused VCs. Plus, our program featured industrial players who can act as potential buyers of services from new space startups.

We are enabling the conversation through the Deal Room app where all of our speakers, partners and investors are available to meet during the event.


For the space track we have a pretty amazing programme. We have a number of representatives from ESA Business Applications who will talk about how the opportunities to help fund your startup:

  • Elia Montanari, ESA Business Applications
  • Gonzalo Martin de Mercado, ESA Business Applications
  • Lluc Diaz, ESA Technology Transfer Office

We have private investors, venture capital and angel investors including:

  • Candace Johnson, EBAN Space
  • James Bruegger, Seraphim Capital
  • Stephan Reckie, Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Space

We also have a number of CEOs of space startups such as:

  • Rafal Modrzewski, ICEYE
  • Mikael Stern, Spacemetric
  • Lauri Haäme, Satellio
  • Boris Krassi, Delta Cygni Labs
  • Madis Kimmel, SpaceIT Labs
  • Pavels Razmajevs, Eventech

Last but not least, Rolls Royce will join us as an industry player.

Overview of Finland’s space activities in 2016 via Space Finland.

About Arctic15

Arctic15 is an annual startup conference with a focus on matchmaking. The 2-day event is held in Helsinki, Finland on May 30-31 2018. Conference has 15 Tracks focused on various industries, technologies and business functions from Health to Blockchain, from Smart Cities to AI, from VR to Space and beyond. Industry players can use the time efficiently and gather under one roof.

The conference is designed to facilitate high-quality matchmaking and networking, with last year’s Arctic15 hosting over 4000 1-on-1 meetings within 48 hours. Besides ad-hoc meetings at the event, the Deal Room matchmaking tool enables attendees to pre-book 20-minute meetings with pre-screened contacts.

More info:

About ESA Business Applications

ESA Business Applications is the mark of Europe’s best commercial ventures powered by Space. The commercial arm of the European Space Agency ESA Business Applications carries a mission to prove that space is open for business and has the power to improve the everyday lives for everyone on Earth.

ESA Business Applications offers zero-equity funding, access to networks and information, dedicated project management support for commercial and technical development, and a mark of credibility that will skyrocket their growth during and beyond the programme.

It invested more than €190M in over 500 businesses to date and continues to grow the portfolio.

More info: