International Student Business Ideas Dominate Fall 2023 Draft Application in Joensuu

The Fall 2023 highlighted the international nature of applicants and business ideas leveraging digital technology. In total, 19 teams applied for funding and entry to the first phase or continuation phase of the Draft program.


Heikki Immonen, Karelian University of Applied Sciences

Total 19 applicant teams

The application days for Joensuu’s Fall 2023 Draft program were held on 3rd and 4th October. 15 teams applied for entry to the program’s first phase, out of which 11 were invited to pitch their business ideas to the selection jury.

For the continuation phase funding, 4 teams applied, two of which had passed the first phase in Spring 2023, and two in Summer and early Fall 2023.

Draft Program is funded by Karelia UAS, Riveria College, University of Eastern Finland and Otsakorpi Foundation.

Over half of the first phase pitchers were international teams

For the first time in the Draft program’s history in Joensuu, over half of the pitchers in the first phase were international students and researchers. Out of 11 pitchers, 6 presented in English. This reflects the growing internationalization of the region and the Joensuu area among Draft applicants.

Alongside the numerous already existing English-language programs at the University of Eastern Finland, for instance, three English-language bachelor’s degree programs at Karelia UAS and the new specialization studies brought along by the INVEST alliance explain the growing number of entrepreneurial-minded international students.

Digitalization in the Hands of Budding Entrepreneurs

A commonality among the business ideas of those applying for the continuation phase was the utilization of digitalization in various ways. As the easternmost province of Finland and Europe, the importance of digitalization cannot be overstated. It’s wonderful to see that new budding entrepreneurs can harness it as the engine for their business ideas.

Teams selected for the first phase

The selection jury for the first phase consisted of entrepreneurship experts from Karelia UAS, Riveria Vocation College, and the University of Eastern Finland. Each year, new members complementing the jury signify the long-term and growing commitment of educational institutions to promoting entrepreneurship. This jury selected seven teams from the 11 pitchers to participate in the first phase of Draft.

The selected business ideas and team leaders were:

  • Clothing line, team leader Saraliina Soramies
  • Educational service, team leader Niko Kyllönen
  • E-commerce platform, team leader Janne Ratilainen
  • Smart sales tool, team leader Max von Hellens
  • Logistics platform, team leader Evgenii Mikhailov
  • Job marketing platform, team leader Denis Dobrynin
  • Restaurant, team leader Anil Chandel

Teams selected for the continuation phase: Kaarto and Pikkujuttuja3D

The selection jury for the continuation phase included experts from, among others, Business Joensuu, Joensuu Region Leader Association, Employment Office, and Taito North-Karelia. The diversity of the jury is important, as the old wisdom in entrepreneurship goes: “It takes a village..”

From the four pitchers, the jury selected two teams to be awarded a place in the Draft continuation phase and a 3000 euro funding. The selected teams were:


From the perspective of the latest Draft application, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Joensuu region and educational institutions appears international and boldly embracing new technologies!

If you got inspired to apply for the Draft program, read more about the application here.