lifeboat for buildings

After Slush comes the flood, will we need lifeboats for buildings?

8 min read

12 Dec 2018


Liisa Leeve



8 min read

12 Dec 2018


Liisa Leeve



Slush, the leading start-up event in the world gathers 20,000 tech heads in Helsinki during the darkest time of the year. It is not an easy task to stand out among all the corporations trying to attract new talents and partners. This year, Wärtsilä rocked the boat and drew in the best, brightest and most innovative tech minds by launching a controversial product, a lifeboat for buildings.

Lifeboat for buildings? What is Wärtsilä up to? At first, it might sound apocalyptic but today many coastal areas are already suffering from flooding caused by climate change and in some areas this hypothetical product might be needed. If we don’t act fast to cut our carbon emissions and change our habits, we will be faced with a reality where lifeboats will be hanging from our buildings.

However, for Wärtsilä, this is a product that should never see the light of day. All hope is not lost. The call to action for start-ups in Slush was ‘Let’s change the course of the future’. With this message, the company wanted to underline the urgency of the situation and to amplify the critical need to move climate change discourse to action. Wärtsilä is living up to its purpose ‘enabling sustainable societies with smart technology'.

“We introduced this thought-provoking product to raise discussion and to put out an open invitation to the start-up community. Wärtsilä is as always looking for like-minded partners to work with on creating a more sustainable future,” tells Steffen Knodt, Director of Digital Ventures at Wärtsilä.

He wishes that the momentum that was created at Slush will be kept alive even in the future to co-create better solutions for Smart Marine and Smart Energy.

“One of the taglines of our campaign was ‘after Slush comes the flood’. But for us, the flood turned into an overwhelmingly positive response from the Slush community as well as the society at large. This is the perfect message to attract start-ups with the same values and sense of purpose as we have,” adds Knodt.

Slush lifeboat for buildings

As one of the main partners of Slush this year, Wärtsilä’s eye-catching dome booth lured in attendees and showcased the lifeboat for buildings concept and lifeboat prototype.

Showcasing smart technology and making new matches

As one of the main partners of Slush this year, Wärtsilä’s eye-catching dome booth lured in attendees and showcased the lifeboat for buildings concept and lifeboat prototype. The booth was also awarded by Slush for being one of the most sustainable booths in Slush. There was also a dedicated area to meet start-ups and the company also participated in two side-events that were closely linked to climate change.

The lifeboat for buildings succeeded in raising eyebrows and awareness in a way that also draws attention to the smart solutions that Wärtsilä already has available today. The lifeboat for buildings is conceptualised and designed by Wärtsilä Ship Design and features Wärtsilä’s world-class smart technologies from both marine and energy solutions. The autonomous boat boasts existing smart technology such as dynamic positioning and wireless charging and its powered by 100% renewables, such as synthetic renewable fuels and solar energy.

Technology has an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change and large corporations like Wärtsilä need to team up with small innovative start-ups to build a better future. Start-up scout, Suvi Hakala confirms that this year, at Slush, Wärtsilä was especially looking for solutions that enable a better future – renewables, environmentally friendly solutions, automation and smart use of data.

“For our venturing team, Slush is an important event where we can spread the message about Wärtsilä’s appetite to collaborate with start-ups and different ecosystems. Our lifeboat concept was highly appreciated by start-ups and it acted as a great conversation starter in the meetings,” says Hakala.

All together Wärtsilians had close to 100 fruitful meetings with different start-ups and partners at Slush and now it is time to identify opportunities for collaboration.

Side-events: walking the talk

The side events at Slush were also all about collaborating with partners. Wärtsilä’s Value of CO₂ – Rethink. Reform. Reuse. event was about rethinking and reforming the value of carbon dioxide and debating on the most impactful ways to turn it from waste to a valuable resource. The focus was on 100% renewable future and an innovation community was launched together with Finnish companies Fortum, St1 and Tieto.

Wärtsilä was also part of this year’s Breaking Waves Slush side event, which introduced the way forward towards the digital future of shipping. Part of the event was the Maritime Accelerator Venture finals.

For Venture Strategist Christiane Hepp-Kervinen, the finals were the culmination of a great collaboration over the course of this year, where Wärtsilä partnered with five start-ups to tackle improving safety and reliability in the maritime industry.

“This is a prime example of co-creation and agility. This showcases how much can be achieved in a short time when working together with like-minded start-ups and partners such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Meyer Turku Shipyard,” says Hepp-Kervinen.

Wärtsilä is no newbie at the start-up scene. Last year, at Slush, the company launched its five-tier venturing model and two SparkUp challenges have also been arranged so far. The final of the latest Energy Challenge will be held at the end of January 2019 in Helsinki. Another exciting year in the world of Wärtsilä venturing awaits. The course towards sustainable societies is set.

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