Even better than last year, Slush manages to retain its idiosyncratic nature through some great design matched to a high quality programme.
Two main thoughts from this year:
Firstly that the tech world here seems to be searching for new purpose rather than create more apps aimed at marginal efficiency for a cash rich/time poor audience. This was wonderfully illustrated where Neelie Kroes talked more start-up vacuity over the seriously engaged and knowledgeable President of Estonia – a man determined to drive digital futures in citizenship and public services from his country across Europe.
Secondly, as I noted at Arctic 15, there is now a real confidence to this market. The conversation has moved past the Silicon Valley wannabe stage to an understanding of where their value has impact in a global context. One major games company talked about the sheer volume of mobile releases coming out of Finland making it hard to cut through – but others seem content to build and internationalise from a solid talent base (with all looking at the VR wave to come).
I like Helsinki, there is a core functionality to everything where design is effective and subtle rather than particularly decorative. This simplicity of design function and purpose was at the centre of one of my favourite products on show at Slush – and one with zero technology – a first aid blanket with simple instructions and graphic modeling for CPR on one side, recovery position stabilization on the other (www.aid-one.net).