How far would you go to win €10,000?

On a blisteringly cold night in northern Finland, hopeful entrepreneurs plunge into a hole in the Baltic sea ice in a bid to win over a panel of investors.

The annual 'Polar Bear Pitching' competition in the remote town of Oulu, just over an hour's drive from the Arctic Circle, is a chance for 12 start-up businesses to try and snare funding for their ventures from a group of potential backers.

The catch - competitors may only speak for as long as they can stand chest deep in glacial water.

Long, rambling presentations are well and truly off the agenda.

"It feels terrible. It feels like you get punched in the face by ten really strong guys," said Lasse Brurok, who took home this year’s prize money along with his business partner Arne-Morten Willumsen.

The pair's energy and humour impressed the judges - who sat huddled on reindeer skins on dry land - as well as the business potential of their website which allows users to buy and sell new and used books in their native Norway.

"We came here with the mindset that we're gonna win, and it worked out. Even though we had that mindset, it's still a shock. It’s really fun," Willumsen told AFP.

This year's contenders came from countries including the US, Kenya, Estonia and Finland.

While most managed between one and two minutes in the ice hole, the longest presentation ran to almost five skin-numbing minutes - a record in the competition's seven year history.

A hot tub was on hand to bring the speakers back up to room temperature.

Among the other innovations vying for the 2019 prize were a design for a super-lightweight electric cable, a lower-cost system of sensors to track tennis games, and a tool for analysing video CVs of job applicants.


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