Helsinki-based startup conference calls off flagship event due to global health crisis
As COVID-19 sweeps the world, international startup conference Slush, which organizes annual shows in Helsinki, Tokyo, and Shanghai, has become the latest casualty. However, despite forgoing plans to organize Slush 2020, the organizers said in a press statement that they will instead ‘pursue new ways to support startups through the challenging times.’
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, startups are now facing unprecedented challenges, as is Slush too. While the annual main event has always been our crown jewel, and the highlight of the year for our community, we have made the decision not to organize the Slush 2020 event. Instead, we will pursue our mission of helping founders in new ways this year,” said Miika Huttunen, the CEO of Slush. “This wasn’t an easy decision to make. However, when we can’t fully guarantee the health and safety of everyone involved, it’s the only responsible course of action to take for Slush as we can support startups also in other ways.”
Slush 2020 was slated for November 19–20 in Helsinki, Finland, but ticket sales had yet to start. Nevertheless, a large amount of planning had already been completed before organizers made the difficult decision to call off the event.
“In addition to the wellbeing of people, it would have been irresponsible to overlook the possible financial ramifications not only to Slush but also to our community of partners, vendors, and visitors in case that we would have been forced to cancel the event closer to November. Making this decision now allows us to remain in control of our own future and focus on helping our community in ways better suited for these times,” Huttunen said.
These ‘better ways’ may take the form of investor connections or corporate-startup connections, Huttunen elaborated.
“We want to be here for startups even in the toughest of times, and help is needed now perhaps more than ever before,” Huttunen said in the statement.
Slush is set to return to Finland at the end of 2021. Run by Startup Foundation, a non-profit organization working to build a strong Finnish startup ecosystem, the conference is supported by several wholly-owned subsidiaries including Finnish hackathon Junction, investor Wave Ventures, talent accelerator The Shortcut, and part of Nordic startup campus Maria 01.
“We are not going to give up on our mission as finding solutions is part of Slush’s DNA. Slush was born in 2008 in the middle of an uncertain economic climate, much like now. Back then, Slush was seen as a beacon of hope, and we want to bring hope amid uncertainty also now,” Huttunen concluded.
Header image courtesy of Slush.