Finnair has announced that it will partner with Europe’s largest startup event, Slush, to fuel innovation and digitalisation.

The November event in Helsinki will gather approximately 2,000 startups, 800 venture capitalists, and 700 journalists from over 100 countries to explore new business opportunities.

Working with Slush, Finnair will look for potential startups with which it could carry-out a long-term cooperation on projects to enhance its products and services. This follows the airline’s recent announcement of a focused digital strategy to improve efficiency, service, and profitability.

“We want to explore the various opportunities digitalisation can bring to the different parts of our organization, especially to the customer journey and our own processes,” says Katri Harra-Salonen, Chief Digital Officer at Finnair. “Slush is a natural partner for us, with its excellent network and strong focus on Asia. Digitalisation is moving at a quick and strong pace in the travel industry, and we look forward to an increased and deeper dialogue with Slush to advance innovation within Finnair.”

As part of the collaboration, Slush is organizing two exclusive direct flights for the routes HEL–SFO–HEL and SFO–HEL–SFO. Finnair will fly Slush participants on its new Airbus A350 aircraft from San Francisco to Helsinki and back with exclusive direct flights between November 28 and December 2.

“The flight from San Francisco will bring around 300 founders, investors and speakers for the first time ever to visit Finland and experience the Nordic startup scene at Slush. Offering direct flights has had a surprisingly large impact on how people feel about traveling to Helsinki,” says Marianne Vikkula, CEO at Slush.

The collaboration extends to a new Finnair training program which will boost innovation and digital competencies within the airline, and a marketing cooperation between Finnair and Slush.

Finnair will also participate in Slush events in Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo–all key markets for Finnair–to network with local startups.

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