KuopioES: The Community for Thinkers and Doers

Kuopio Entrepreneurship Society (KuopioES) is an entrepreneur- and student-driven community of our city. It was founded in 2011, but the concept was originally born in 2008 at Aalto University. Now there are entrepreneurship societies all over Finland. The CEO of KuopioES is Niko Kosunen. Niko comes from Kuopio, he has a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, and he spent several years of his life in Scotland. Marco Rigano, the Marketing Manager, is from Italy.  He has been living in Finland since 2010, and now he is about to finish his Master’s at the Innovation Management Degree Programme of UEF Business School. We have asked these two energetic and international-minded young business enthusiasts about the organization.

Kuopio Entrepreneurship Society is a community for thinkers and doers. It wants to encourage open dialogue in entrepreneurship and international business among young people.

KuopioES connects young people and makes them acquainted with entrepreneurship. The society aims to support the youth of Kuopio in starting their own businesses by giving advice and helping with practicalities. It also facilitates the development of business ideas and helps leveraging stakeholder networks. Niko and Marco say,

“It is not even necessary to have an idea to join Kuopio Entrepreneurship Society. You can join for networking purposes as well.”

The society deals with start-ups and connects companies and talents with both Finnish and international backgrounds. KuopioES highlights internationality, and the members have diverse cultural backgrounds.

Ideas + innovative people + enthusiasm = bright future

“We enhance entrepreneurial culture and multidisciplinary interaction between entrepreneurs, schools and students. We encourage people to refine their ideas, and we create an atmosphere to unleash hidden potential,” Niko says.

What’s the purpose?

Finland is the country where one feels entrepreneurial atmosphere. There has been a growing interest towards entrepreneurship among the students pursuing higher education degrees.

“Our purpose is to serve the entrepreneurial-minded with powerful insights, skills and connections that inspire, motivate and help students to create new businesses. We are the part of the movement towards a more innovative, creative, entrepreneur-friendly and economically healthy Finland,” Niko explains.

What’s on the agenda?

“To accomplish this we arrange events related to entrepreneurship. Collaboration is the essential part of our operation. Not everything can be learned in school, so we arrange different kinds of events for networking and encouraging people to take the next step. If you have ideas for the community, contact us without hesitation,” Marco continues.

The hangout events organized for idea exchange are the easiest way to join and find out more about KuopioES.

The hangout events take place once a month. These are mainly informal meetings which can take place, for example, in cafés. All KuopioES events are held in English. Niko says,

“Some exchange students have also tried coming to hangout events. If they wanted to stay and join KuopioES, we would help for sure.”

There are also two bigger-scale events with KuopioES participation taking place annually. Sawosta Maailmalle, an annual networking event targeting at business growth and international development, took place this May. Another event is Cockpit Accelerator Program, a four-week program for those dreaming to become an entrepreneur. The latest winner of this mentoring and pitching event took home 3000€. This year Cockpit Accelerator is preliminarily planned for autumn. Niko says,

“The events are adjusted based on the feedback received. When people suggest certain topics, we try to get people to talk and tell more about those topics. We always want to know what our members are interested in.”

KuopioES board members are selected in September, and most of the members are international students.  Every year there are a lot of new members in the board. The old members usually become mentors for start-ups.

Join in!

KuopioES is not a heavily formal organization. There is little power distance, and the atmosphere is easy-going and relaxed, so it is not intimidating for people to join and be part of it. The members of the society are students, and they are forming a peer-to-peer environment. The older members usually become mentors for the next KuopioES generations (the new people coming in).

“The ones most eager to join our society are those who want to help others in entrepreneurship and starting their businesses. The second group are entrepreneurs, who have good experiences to share with others,” Marco says. “KuopioES is very approachable! Most of the members are international, we offer almost professional help and charge no fees for it. Joining KuopioES is a good first step to see which way to go with your business idea, and we give advice which stakeholders can help to take the next steps.”

“We always wish more people know about us. Every year new students come to Kuopio, so creating awareness is essential,” Niko highlights.

The membership in KuopioES is free and so are the events! There are also free drinks and snacks offered during the hangout events.

The final words from Niko and Marco for those who want to join:

“Come share your own story. We want to get to know you, and we are not intimidating!”

The network

KuopioES has collaborations with many businesses and organizations such as: Kuopio Chamber of Commerce, Nordea, Osuuspankki, City of Kuopio, Design Week, Tahko (e.g. Tahko Ski Lift Pitch took place there), Savon Yrittäjät, Nuoret Yrittäjät, Savonia, University of Eastern Finland, Muotoiluakatemia, 3D Talo, ISYY and all student unions, Preemio, Start-up Sauna, Junction, Call To Action, Value Thing, Slush, Treedee, SimLab, Science Stories (one of the companies KuopioES helped to grow), Dinersville, Energy Everywhere, and all other Entrepreneurship Societies especially in Savo and Eastern Finland area. The people from these organizations come to talk to KuopioES events. One of the highlights of KuopioES is connecting businesses with students.

You can find Kuopio Entrepreneurship Society in social media https://www.facebook.com/KuopioES/, and more information about them can be read on their website: http://www.kuopioes.fi/

Interview and text: Tiia Alina Heikkinen, Student Ambassador of the Programme

Pictures: KuopioES


SYKETTÄ: Do Exercise and Be Happy!

Sirpa Risto is a university sports coordinator, and she introduces us to the SYKETTÄ service.

SYKETTÄ was founded in 2014, and it includes sport services for the students and staff members of the University of Eastern Finland and Savonia University of Applied Sciences as well as students of HUMAK University of Applied Sciences and Uniarts in Kuopio. The core of SYKETTÄ is its diverse sports calendar which features more than 200 hours of weekly sports activities. The calendar takes into account all movers, from beginners to the more advanced. The goal is an active, social and healthy university community.

The sports calendar includes more than 60 hours of instructed group classes a week, almost 30 open ball games sessions, 25 weekly set shifts for groups of student and staff members and about 100 hours open times which you can book for yourself and then do the sport activity you want. Prices for the sports activities are very student-friendly and affordable.

The instructed sport classes SYKETTÄ offers are:

  • Light classes – Foam Roller, Taiji, Physiotherapeutic Core
  • Body overhaul – Body Balance, Stretching & overhaul, Water exercise
  • Muscle toning – Pump, Abs & Booty, Sixpack30, Healthy Back
  • Effective – Hiit45, Cross training, PowerHiit
  • Dance – Zumba, Jazz, Reggaeton
  • Pulse – Indoor cycling, BodyCombat, KickFit, and more

Flow yoga is the only class where instruction is in Finnish. In all the other classes international students can get instructions in English.

“The most popular activities are Indoor Cycling, Zumba, BodyCombat, Pole dance, Yoga classes and Futsal,” says Sirpa Risto. “I think those classes are so popular because they are a trend at the moment, they have very good instructors, and it is so easy and cheap to use SYKETTÄ.”

SYKETTÄ has both Finnish and international instructors, who are also responsible for open ball games like Futsal, Basketball and Floorball. There are possibilities to get a job as an instructor. When asked if she felt that more awareness about SYKETTÄ among international students is needed,  Sirpa answers,

“That’s a good question. Sometimes I think international students are more interested in SYKETTÄ services than Finnish students, but yes, of course, we would like get more SYKETTÄ users. Because with SYKETTÄ you can get new friends, do some exercise and be happy!”

SYKETTÄ has three of its own sport facilities: Studentia (Yliopistonranta 3), Snellmania (Yliopistonranta 1) and Opistotie (Opistotie 2) here in Kuopio. These facilities include 2 large sports halls and 4 gyms. Partners’ sports facilities are located around the city: Elements Studio, Pole Center, Kunnonsali and Rauhalahti Spa.

The students and staff members of UEF and Savonia University of Applied Sciences as well as the students of HUMAK and Uniarts in Kuopio can join the SYKETTÄ sport services.

“We have some courses for those who don’t have a SYKETTÄ membership, and Sport Afternoons are for every staff member and student of Savonia University of Applied Sciences and UEF,” Sirpa says.

SYKETTÄ also has some special events: the newest ones are cooking events. There are also get-to-know sport events once a month.

SYKETTÄ adjusts its activities based on the feedback it receives.

“We mostly get positive feedback,” Sirpa says. “For example, ’It was a great class, please don’t stop it, the instructor was great!’ Then we get feedback like, ’Can you buy a new machine for the gym,’ or that something is broken, or whether it is possible to try something new and so on. We buy new equipment if we can and fix broken things. Also, we modify the sports calendar as much as we can. We try new classes and change our timetable.”

Some final words from Sirpa for anyone pondering whether to join SYKETTÄ activities:

“Come and enjoy our facilities, and make new friends, and feel good!”

SYKETTÄ calendar and other details can be found by the link: https://sykettä.fi/kuopio/en/

Interview and text: Tiia Alina Heikkinen, Student Ambassador of the Programme


ESN KISA: Students Helping Students

Everyone is welcome to join our international community!

Sara Stemberger comes from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. She came to Finland in autumn 2016 to study for a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She has been a board member of ESN KISA for a year and a half, and an active member for about a month.

What is ESN KISA?

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the biggest student association in Europe. Founded in 1989, it is an international non-profit organization that provides opportunities for cultural experiences. ESN’s main focus is on international students who might feel abandoned in their new environment. ESN offers help in academic, social and practical integration matters. ESN is present in more than 900 higher education institutions from 40 countries. Its mission is to represent international students, providing opportunities for cultural understanding and self-development under the principle of “students helping students”. ESN KISA was founded in Kuopio in 2011, and plays a key role in creating a welcoming, international community in the city.

What does ESN KISA offer?

ESN KISA offers a wide range of events. Some events appeal to those looking for relaxation, for example, movie nights, wine and cheese events and board games nights. Among the events aimed at adventure-seekers are trips to Koli National Park or cultural experiences such as sitsit (a traditional Finnish seated dinner parties including eating, drinking and singing with special rules, and often there’s a special theme for the parties), smoke sauna, food festivals or karaoke nights. As Sara says,

“…our most popular events are our food festivals and sitsit. We also partner with a travel company called Timetravels to offer popular group trips to Lapland, St. Petersburg, and Lofoten every semester. There’s also a trip called Pirates of the Baltic Sea, which is a three-day cruise to Stockholm, with over 1,500 international students.

Who can join?

Currently half of ESN KISA’s newly elected board members are Finnish. The active members of ESN KISA tend to be a mix of both Finnish and international students.

The events are catered more towards international students. We tend to attract people that are currently on exchange, or have had previous exchange or international experiences,” Sara says.

Most of the events are free, and include snacks. Certain events have a small fee to cover the costs.

For students who are considering joining ESN KISA’s activities, Sara has a simple message:

The more the merrier! We welcome anyone who wants to join. Whether you are an international or a Finnish student, everyone has something unique to offer both ESN KISA and the international community.”

Upcoming events and activities:

  • 25.3. Movie Night at Lukema.
  • 25-27.3. PoBS – Pirates of the Baltic Sea cruise. The tickets are still available.
  • 30.3.-3.4. St. Petersburg and Tallinn trip. Few tickets are still left.

For more information about the organisation and the events, check ESN KISA’s page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ESNKISA/

Interview and text: Tiia Alina Heikkinen, Student Ambassador of the Programme