• December 2, 2021: Time for the Semifinal. After intensive pitches, the Jury will choose six teams to go forward in the challenge competition. 
  • October 13, 2021: Twelve teams participated in a workshop, to further develop their solutions and also learn to market their solutions.
  • September 15-16, 2021: Twelve teams participated in a Boot Camp, to focus their solutions, and to hone their presentation skills.
  • September 1, 2021: Twelwe teams have been chosen to advance to the acceleration phase.
  • June 23, 2021: The application phase ended

Innovations for an equal future

Wellbeing and welfare start with learning. Finland is famous for its equal approach to education and the economic, social and mental welfare it creates. However, education is inherited just like height and weight. 4% of university graduates have parents with basic education, whereas 45% have parents with university degrees. And it’s difficult to dream of something you don’t see – whether it’s being a crane operator, a drone pilot or a toy designer.

Svenska folkskolans vänner has decided to help children to defy predictions and thrive beyond them!

SFV Start! Challenge seeks social innovations to help all children and young people thrive in their lives regardless of their background. We are looking for new solutions that tackle inequalities so that everyone has a chance to reach their full learning potential. The inequalities also affect the lives of children and youth in the Swedish speaking language group in Finland and the solutions need to be applicable to these communities. The innovations could be new services, new teaching methods or pedagogical approaches or for instance solutions based on innovative forms of cooperation between actors.

Advancing teams

Here are ”The twelve”– the teams chosen to participate in the acceleration phase of the SFV Start! challenge competition. 

1 2 3 Start / Exploring Your Local Heritage & Creactive Confidence

From Västnyländska kultursamfundet: Pamela Andersson, Emi Ingo, Pia Johansson, Nathalie Sallegren, Annette Ström. From Föreningen Luckan: Elin Sundell, from VReal Ab Johannes Söderström.

The team proposes an expanded learning environment that combines virtual exploration together with a local guide, and activating creative workshops in a school environment.

Future problem solvers! 

From the University of Helsinki: Pirjo Aunio, Anu Laine, Terhi Vessonen. From Aalto University: Hannu Hyyppä, Juha Hyyppä, Marika Ahlavuo. From Åbo Akademi, Vasa: Heidi Hellstrand.

The team is developing 3D learning environments for enhancing everyday mathematical problem-solving skills of diverse learners in grades 4-6 to become more competent future problem solvers!

My path to school

From Bensow Foundation: Maj Estlander. From Digitala samtal: Emelie Hindsberg-Lipponen, Mattias Hallström and Peter Matsson. 

The proposal is a method for establishing collaboration in school for early detection and support for vulnerable children, in families with substance abuse or mental illness through multidimensional work to promote all children's equal opportunities for learning and development.

Resource and strength pedagogue

Kristina Ström, Kouvolan seudun ammattiopisto. Eva Åstrand, Åbo Akademi. Sanna Wenström, Oulun ammattikorkeakoulu.

The team is working towards a 5-step program for mutually empowering collaboration, dialogue and response, as well as an inspiring pedagogical model, which stands for innovation and cross-border cooperation.

"Child Ambassadors" Mentoring program

From Novia University of Applied Sciences: Ann Backman, Maj-Helen Nyback. From Korsholm municipality: Ulrica Taylor, William Hiekkanen. From Child Welfare Association of Finland: Mikaela Lervik.

The mentoring programme "Child Ambassadors" includes supporting children at risk of loneliness and vulnerability. The program creates a system for training of mentors and with continuous evaluation of the programme.evaluation and training of mentors.

Homework Room

Bo-Håkan Söderholm, Muvon rf, Pamela Pihl, school supervisor. Mia Heinonen, author of teaching aids.

The Homework Room comprises personal and online homework help and study technology in collaboration with the municipality's social services, aimed at families in need of support with school work.


Choir in school

From FSSMF: Johanna Frimodig, Henrik Lillhannus. DUNK: Hanna Kronqvist. Project Coordinator: Mia Makaroff.

Choir in the school - school choir clubs offer guidance and financial support for choir leaders, a common repertoire, an exercise app for vocal learning and joint choir experiences with the long-term goal that all schools should have at least one choir. An earlier stage of the project has recieved financing from Svenska kulturfonden.

Lighting stars, all stars

From Positive Solutions: Christine Suvanto, Anna Nordström, Tom Suvanto, Anne Liljestrand and Nina Wendelin. From Larso municipality: Matts Pettersson.

The team wants to introduce and implement a coaching approach in the school, were students, school staff and parents collaborate without borders for equality, well-being, inclusion and security by utilising the inner potential of everyone, with modern and flexible tools of professional coaching.

Read and write with the digital tools in your pocket

Datero rf: Sonja Haga-Erickson, Susanne Öst.
Vaasa University: Juho-Pekka Mäkipää, Christer Blomqvist. 
Kukunori: Markus Raivio.  

The team works towards a system which at an early stage helps families and the school to recognize hereditary reading and writing difficulties, and with a low threshold implements the digital compensatory tools that help the student in knowledge acquisition.

Future hope

From University of Helsinki: Mirjam Kalland, Erika Löfström, Jan-Erik Mansikka and Lina Lindström.

The team wants to implement a new kind of participation pedagogy based on transformative hope for early childhood pedagogy, preschool and primary school. The system stresses the importance of supporting children's and teachers' reflective dialogues and a sense of hope for the future.

Peer & Bear

From Moilo: Suzan Aledin, Petra Holm. From Zaibatsu: Jussi Ultima, Herkko Pirskanen, Lari Kemiläinen. From Helsinki University: Anna Slotte.

The team is working on a didactic tool for the teacher to use in distance education to stimulate students activity and motivation, and the students sense of community. The tool also lets the teacher easily review the individual student and the joint activities of the whole class, and to give feedback on the progress. 

Sisu begins where perseverance and grit end

Johanna Berlin, Linnea Lindgård, Johanna Pekkanen, Sofia Finnilä,  Ia Adlercreutz, KemalAhson, Hani Hämäläinen and Taru Vainikainen – all involved in different forms of pedagogy activities.

The team wants to use outdoor education and nature environments as an arena for strengthening the students physical, mental and psychosocial health, and to strengthen creativity, dialogue and perseverance through using – among other things – drama pedagogy.


What is the SFV Start Challenge?

This challenge seeks social innovations to help all children and young people (0–20 years of age) thrive by learning. We are looking for solutions to overcome the growing inequality in the chance to learn and pursue education.

The solutions may relate to any area of life, such as school, work life, home environment and free time and may target one or more relevant actors, such as students directly, parents, coaches and community.



  • By the chance to learn and reach far in education we refer to the level of education a young person thinks is possible for themselves and is able to achieve.
  • Inequality may arise due to, for instance, socioeconomic differences between young people and their families, lack of suitable role models, differences in the quality of education due to location and available resources of the educational institutes.
  • Solutions could be but are not limited to new services, technological solutions and applications, community interventions, school models and solutions based on new forms of cooperation between actors. We are looking for diversity of ideas in the applications.



Key numbers

12 teams admitted to the competition

Each admitted team receives 1000 EUR as a seed fund for the experimentation phase in the acceleration

During the semifinals 6 teams are picked to proceed to the final

The winning team gets 100 000 EUR to further develop and implement the solution

SFV will evaluate the impact of the winning concept at a later stage


Who can apply?

(The application has ended)

  • The SFV Start! is open for everyone to apply. Participation in the challenge is done as a team, which must have at least three members or parties. There is no maximum team size. Team members can be organizations or natural persons.

  • Team members can reside anywhere in the world, however at least one of the team members must be a Finnish resident or citizen and be familiar with the Finnish education system.
  • At least one of the team members must either be a non-profit registered association or foundation, state/municipal public actor or private person. Other team members can be private persons, a registered company or freely any form of legal actors whatsoever. We are looking for versatile teams with diverse expertise, experiences and backgrounds.
  • Applications can be submitted in Swedish, Finnish or English. The team has to be able to participate in the acceleration phase in English. Support will be available to ensure that language will not be a hindrance of the team.

What kind of solution can win? 

  • Impact potential: The solution addresses inequalities in the chance to learn and thus support children and young people’s ability to reach their education potential. The solution reaches the target group(s) and is motivating for its target group(s). The solution has to be applicable to the Swedish speaking language group in Finland but can well benefit other language groups and nationalities as well.
  • Novelty: The solution introduces a new way to tackle the problem that is better than the currently existing solutions. It may combine or apply an existing solution or solutions in a novel way. 
  • Adaptability, feasibility and viability: The solution is adaptable and relevant to different kinds of contexts and environments in Finland and could be feasibly implemented and potentially scaled. The solution can be maintained with a reasonable economic effort even after the prize money has been used up. The team has relevant skills and experience to carry out the solution.
  • Co-creation & testing: The solution has been developed, co-created and tested with the groups relevant to the solution involving at least the Finnish-Swedish community (e.g. in a Swedish-speaking educational institutions or bilingual municipality).

When is an idea considered to be too far and too developed to be suitable for this competition?

  • If your solution/idea is well established, mature and already spreading, and you are not looking to develop your solution then the solution is not well suited for this competition. Teams are expected to make significant progress on their ideas during the acceleration phase of the competition, to test and develop their ideas. One of the intentions of the SFV Start! Challenge is to spark new innovations and collaborations between actors, so already well established initiatives are not well suited for this purpose.
  • Additionally, one of the winning criteria of the competition is novelty --  the solution introduces a new way to tackle the problem of inequality in education that is better than the currently existing solutions. It may combine or apply an existing solution or solutions in a novel way. If you have a solution that is already established and recognized, it will likely not score well on this criteria of novelty.

What type of funding is the prize money considered? For example, do the “de minimis aid” rules apply? 

  • SFV will seek to award the winning team the prize money in a way that fits the team the best and at the same time is legally sound. For example, if a team member is affiliated with a university and there is preference and agreement within the team that the prize money should be awarded to the university so that the solution can be further scaled and developed, SFV will seek to accommodate that.
  • De Minimis funding is given to companies only. It is considered public funding given from the funds of municipalities or government and shared via e.g. ministries, Finnvera & Business Finland (you can read more about de minimis funding here). Funding given by non-profit organisations such as SFV does not fall into the category of de minimis. As stated above SFV will seek to accommodate the wishes of the winning party in terms of awarding the prize money within legal bounds. In these matters the teams are advised to consult their legal and tax council. 

The jury

Liliane Kjellman
Service Area Director, Education Division
City of Turku
Mona Eid
Board member
Ruskeat Tytöt association
Alexandra Wegelius
Swedish-Speaking School-Student Union of Finland
Olli Alanen
Executive Director
The Children and Youth Foundation
Venla Bernelius
University of Helsinki
Antti Korhonen

The competition journey


Preparation & Submission
by June 23, noon EEST


Sept 1 to Oct 13

Semifinals &

Dec 2, Jan 28


Preparation & Submission

The submission time ended on June 23, 2021 noon (12:00) EEST. The jury will select and notify the 12 participating teams. These teams will be publicly announced by the end of August 2021.

Acceleration phase

The journey of the finalists begins on September 1st 2021, when the teams will meet and get to know the SFV association. After that teams will be supported in developing, testing and experimenting their ideas during a bootcamp held September 15-16 and a workshop arranged on October 13, 2021. This support will help develop the teams’ ideas and move them toward a real, implementable solution.

Semifinals & Finals

During the semifinals held on December 2nd 2021, 6 teams are chosen to continue in the competition. They will be further supported with developing their solutions in a workshop on January 11 2022. The competition final is held on January 28 2022. There, the teams will present the finalized solutions to the jury. The jury retrieves and the winners are announced on February 17 2022 at the closing ceremony.

This is when the winners’ work really begins: they will use the prize money to implement and scale their solutions.

The link to the full rules


Tuuli Kaskinen / Demos Helsinki
+358 50 514 9752
Niklas Wahlström / SFV
+358 50 548 2100


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