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urban tech helsinki challenge 2024

In 2024, we are concentrating on one of the most pressing questions in making our cities smarter. As our partner Testbed Helsinki states, City of Helsinki aims to be a pioneer in the circular economy.  To reach the goal, city has established a circular economy cluster in 2021.

The circular economy is the best way to reduce emissions during construction and to curb the over-consumption of natural resources.

Achieving a circular economy in built environment requires the cooperation of many actors. A lot has been done, but there is still a shortage of know-how.

Robots, sensors and data for circular economy in the built environment

We are tackling that challenge together with innovative startups. As our Urban Tech Helsinki Challenge 2024 theme, we have chosen the digital tools and data in the circular economy and specifically in the built environment. The work done in the area is still mainly manual, many times there are occupational health or environmental hazards and the digitalization of the process and material information is almost nonexistent.  We need more data, more experimentation with modern tools like robots and automate and more innovative startups to solve this challenge sustainably in our cities.

With our partners, KIRA growth program for built environment in Finland and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences we are launching an invitation to all innovators and startups to join solving this challenge.


Program Director Mia Toivanen represents the KIRA growth programme that is a three years programme to boost real estate and construction sector. The KIRA growth programme is produced by the KIRA forum which consists of fifteen Finnish real estate and construction organizations. It’s funded by the KIRA forum and the Ministry of environment. The three main goals are green transition, productivity and digitalization and value creation throughout the life cycle.

KIRA growth programmes role is to support companies throughout the entire life cycle of the built environment and gather companies, municipalities and research and education organizatios to the same table. This challenge combines perfectly the subjects that are in the core goals and and actions of our program: technical innovations and green transition.

We have a strong background of construction and real estate sector companies so we can offer expertise in defining the needs of the sector. Growth programme can also help to connect with the real estate and construction companies. We are also eager to communicate about the challenge as well as the solutions in our network.”

MIa Toivanen, KIRA Growth Program


Lars Miikki, Project Manager, Knowledge and Skill hub for Construction Industry Project 2023-25 represesnts Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland’s largest university of applied sciences. Metropolia educates future professionals in the fields of Business, Culture, Health Care and Social Services, and Technology. It is a community of 17,000+ students and more than 1,000 experts.

We provide teams with facilities, equipment and collaboration platforms mainly at the Myllypuro Smart Campus. Examples include our large laboratory halls in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), structural and concrete engineering, and our Smart Lab smart home environment. Other platforms include the Robo and AIoT garages on the Myyrmäki campus and the Helsinki XR Center on our Arabia campus. The expertise of our innovation hubs is also at your disposal.”

Our strategic intent is to be a bold reformer of expertise and an active builder of a sustainable future. Sustainable development guides our actions and way of thinking. Most importantly, it means taking responsibility for people and environment. Smart and functional cities are at the heart of our research, development and innovation activities.

Lars Miikki, Metropolia UAS

next steps

Urban Tech Helsinki Challenge will invite all innovators to a series of workshops with our partners and City of Helsinki Circular Economy cluster during spring 2024 to help find the real need not only from the city’s perspective, but also from industry and research side. After the workshops the call for solutions will be opened at the same time as our call for startups. The winners of the challenge get a chance to a pilot project during Autumn 2024, as well as a place in our incubator program batch 6, starting in August 2024.  

We are looking for new solutions from innovative startups ready to work hard to make the pilot project real in Helsinki!

Kaisa Ahonen, Urban Tech Helsinki