For Hottinen, who is responsible for Wärtsilä’s forward-thinking engagement with the start-up scene, the development of a more fragmented approach to innovation is of signal importance. To keep Wärtsilä engaged with this high-energy arena, he has recently been instrumental in developing Wärtsilä Marine Mastermind, a marine-focused competition targeted at start-ups and young growth companies. The initiative was launched to coincide with Wärtsilä’s presence at Slush, the premier Nordic start-up event.
As befits the deep connection Wärtsilä aims to encourage with the world of small, agile solution developers, the competition winner will benefit from a month-long product or service development sprint as opposed to a monetary contribution. This sprint is focused on the challenges of innovation and the development of the concept for commercialisation, including prototyping as well as business and implementation planning. The final goal is to deploy the concrete idea in the future together with Wärtsilä.
“The key criteria that we emphasise in our dealings with start-ups are the usability of the solution, innovativeness, customer focus and business potential and scalability,” says Hottinen. “Start-ups are good at getting under customers’ skin. They are agile and able to pivot their product development in a fast manner if needed. This is something that all big corporations can learn from.”
Organisations still willing to find an education in the strengths of their smaller counterparts after over a century of operating history are few and far between. Neither Saarikangas nor Hottinen are losing sight of the fact that digitalisation may be the forum for some of Wärtsilä’s most important lessons yet.