Noora Hagman is a Senior Advisor in charge of the City of Helsinki’s business collaboration that aims for new innovations within the field of health promotion. The Innovation Challenge – that focused exclusively on increasing physical activity – was the first of its kind launched by the City, says Hagman.
“One focus area for the City is promoting and increasing employees’ physical activity, since we know that increased activity has a very positive impact on people’s wellbeing,” she says.
The City of Helsinki is no stranger to making these types of moves, but this time, the City wanted to open the doors to something else altogether.
“We wanted to see what’s out there and perhaps find a solution we didn’t even know existed.”
This time, the City of Helsinki wanted to open doors to something else altogether.
Startups answer the call
Enter: the startups! As the City put out a call for startups to contribute to the challenge in summer 2020, a total of 43 companies responded to the call. Eleven of those startups got to make their pitch in front of the Challenge Jury at the end of August, and, ultimately, six startups were selected to be the City’s partners in pulling off the challenge.
The participants were StepOut, Cuckoo Workout, Fibion, Cityspotting, Syke Tribe and Löydä Luonto (Find nature) concept. Typically running from September to December 2020, all of these individual health challenges have now been concluded.
“With regards to the final six participants, we wanted them to reflect the diversity of the over-all applications. These six startups approach health & wellbeing from different angles which is a good thing, since the same methods rarely connect with everybody,” Hagman says.
StepOut empowers via platform
For instance, StepOut has a fitness platform – by the same name – which promotes healthy, happy, on-the-go living. Tarnjit Saini, CEO & Co-founder of StepOut, explains that in the challenge there were two focus groups involved.
“We aimed to have 50 participants from each. However, the overwhelming response got us more than 150 registrations in under an hour,” she says.
According to challenge results, 88.9% of employees thought that a platform like StepOut is a useful tool to have, especially during these remote working days.
“The employees highly appreciated the fact that we were bringing guided workouts to their homes. Majority of the users saw a huge boost in their motivation to stay more active,” Saini says.
“Furthermore, users felt a positive impact on their well-being by participating in the sessions.”
According to Saini, the project was “an amazing learning experience” for StepOut. The experiment period allowed the startup to introduce and test out new features and make improvements based on the feedback received.
“The agile co-creation process allowed us to test our app and service. We gained useful feedback that helped us understand the users’ needs and make improvements,” she looks back.