This is how Helsinki develops wellbeing services of the future with startups and business partners

The City of Helsinki Social Services and Health Care Division, five startup companies and cooperation partners Kesko, SRV and CGI developed and piloted new digital wellbeing services in Kalasatama, the smart district of Helsinki. The new services were tested by over 400 residents.

The Kalasatama Wellbeing pilot programme developed new digital solutions that support urban wellbeing in collaboration with residents, Kalasatama Health and Wellbeing Centre and business partners. During the programme, the City and companies co-created solutions that could also be scaled up from Kalasatama to be used elsewhere in Helsinki in the future.  Also the residents of Kalasatama, health care professionals and clients, among others contributed to co-creation of the services.

Pilot programmes are an effective way of bringing together companies and the public sector in order to develop new services. The agile piloting programme model developed as part of the Smart Kalasatama project also offers added value to various stakeholder groups – providing the City with new services and companies with the opportunity to utilise the city as a testing platform. The participation of corporate business partners also motivates more established startups to join in.

Executive Director of the City of Helsinki Social Services and Health Care Division Juha Jolkkonen emphasises the importance of co-creation in the development of new services.

“We meet Helsinki residents in customer service situations every single day and strive to find ways of making our services more accessible to them. We want to participate in the development of new services in an agile manner, collaborating with other actors while at the same time developing our own operations. Taking part in the piloting programme was a great opportunity for this type of collaboration,” he says.

5 digital wellbeing pilots created learnings to both companies and the City

Through an open call, the Kalasatama Wellbeing pilot programme sought new digital solutions focusing on the wellbeing of residents for co-development and experimentation. Among the proposals received, the expert jury selected a total of five digital services focusing on healthy nutrition and wellbeing, in particular stress management, to participate in the experimentation sprints.

1. MealLogger is an image-based platform that coaches users in food choices, using an AI that analyzes the users’ meals.

2. Miils is a digital shopping tool that puts together tailored grocery bags from organic foods on the basis of the users’ personal preferences.

3. Auntie, a provider of life crisis solutions and virtual psychological support, has produced a chatbot that gives anonymous users feedback with the help of an AI and directs them to appropriate self-help services.

4. Moodmetric provides real-time stress level measurement with a smart ring. The service was tested as part of occupational health services.

5. MelloVR offers relaxing virtual reality trips. The service was tested at the Kalasatama dental clinic with the aim of reducing patients’ anxiety before a visit to the dentist.

Users and health care professionals involved

When it comes to the development of new services, getting potential users to participate is crucial. The agile, 3–6-month-long pilots serve as great opportunities to gain experience and user feedback about new services. During the piloting programme, essential feedback was collected not only from users, but from some 20 health care and wellbeing professionals who participated in the experimentation and co-creation as well.
And what were the participating companies’ thoughts on the pilot programme? To find out, the project’s research and development partner Laurea University of Applied Sciences also collected feedback from companies on what this kind of collaboration can offer to them.

“Both startups and business partners appreciate an efficiently facilitated process: Forum Virium’s active contribution to the co-creation and piloting process saves time for other actors, which is a major benefit to startups in particular. The lessons learned and follow-up ideas concerning the development of services and business models proposed during the pilots are of course important to companies – with the unanticipated lessons learned being particularly valuable. All of the parties also gave positive feedback on the large number of contacts that the programme allowed them to establish and the visibility given to the pilots,” states Principal Lecturer Anne Äyväri from Laurea University of Applied Sciences.


The pilots are part of the Co-Designing Wellbeing project, where wellbeing services that can improve wellbeing and health were piloted in collaboration with Kalasatama Health and Wellbeing Centre and partner companies. The one-year project was headed by Forum Virium Helsinki, with Laurea University of Applied Sciences serving as a research and development partner. The project partners were the City of Helsinki Social Services and Health Care Division, the SRV Group, Kesko’s Occupational Health Service and CGI Finland. The project was funded by the Regional Innovations and Experiments funding of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council.

Smart Kalasatama is part of the Six City Strategy, which develops open and smart city services in the areas of the six largest cities in Finland (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku). The project has attracted over a hundred companies to engage in collaboration with the City and each other while also raising major national and international interest. The Smart Kalasatama project was granted follow-up funding for 2018–2020 from the City of Helsinki Innovation Fund. The Smart Kalasatama project is coordinated by the City of Helsinki’s development company Forum Virium Helsinki.

Photo: Ruska Tapiovaara

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