Previous Winners

Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2017

Virpi Muhonen 

Virpi Muhonen, Doctor of Cell Biology, was awarded with the Young Research Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Muhonen was involved in a multidisciplinary Finnish research group developing a product that can remedy cartilage damage.
The research group consisted of researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Tampere University of Technology. Together they developed an implant called COPLA Scaffold which corrects the damage of the cartilage between joints. So far there has been no cure for the damage to the cartilage, so the need for solutions is severe. At worst, damage leads to osteoarthritis.
In March 2017, the researchers founded a company called Askel Healthcare.

“The way Askel Healthcare’s founders have launched a business is exemplary. They have developed an important innovation and found a niche market that nobody else has discovered. Virpi Muhonen is admirable to actively pursue academic entrepreneurship forward,” says Jouni Lounasmaa, the advocate for the KAUTE Foundation granting the Young Research Entrepreneur of the Year award.

More information:

Virpi Muhonen
CEO, founder, Askel Healthcare Oy
tel. +358 40 489 3840
v.muhonen (at) askelhealthcare.com

Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2016

Raine Kajastila 

Raine Kajastila was involved in the development of a technology which transforms an ordinary climbing wall into a new game platform for augmented reality. The ambitious combination of research and entrepreneurship brought Kajastila the Young Research Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The Augmented Climbing Wall turns a climbing wall into an interactive touchscreen to which one can create climbing routes and play a variety of games either alone or with a friend.

The idea of a climbing wall with augmented reality features was born when Kajastila worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Aalto University’s Media Institute at Game Research. In 2013, Kajastila made a research video with his research team to test the Augmented Climbing Wall prototype. The video reached over 70,000 views in Vimeo. Kajastila started receiving messages asking him to develop a product based on his research.

Kajastila got funding for Augmented Climbing Wall and set up a company called Valo Motion. Nowadays the Augmented Climbing Walls can be found for example in climbing centers. Augmented Climbing Wall encourages people from school kids to adults to exercise in a creative manner.

More information:

Raine Kajastila,
CEO, Valo Motion
[email protected]

 

Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2015

Reetta Kivelä

Outstanding Young Researcher Entrepreneur makes a complete protein out of Finnish oats

Reetta Kivelä is the Young Researcher Entrepreneur of 2015

The public has voted an oat researcher to be the Young Researcher Entrepreneur of the year Reetta Kivelä. Reetta Kivelä, Doctor of Food Sciences, of Gold & Green Foods Ltd has developed a protein derived from Northern beans and oats, intended to challenge minced meat, the mainstay of everyday cooking.

“The world does not know how to use oats. We now have the opportunity to make use of oats in new and bigger ways. Out of the entire food industry, only we have the know-how as to how to utilize oats,” says Kivelä.

Northern agricultural areas, and the plants that can successfully grow there, are becoming more important in the international food market due to climate change.

“We produce a complete and tasty protein. We want to show that oats can be used in many ways, not just in your breakfast porridge”, Kivelä emphasizes.

The Young Researcher Entrepreneur is a EUR 5000 prize that is awarded to a researcher that has created a research-based business. The aim of the award is to encourage young researchers to pursue careers in entrepreneurship.

Last year, the Young Researcher Entrepreneur award was awarded to Doctor of Technology Johanna Småros, the founder of the RELEX. Supply chain management software developer Relex has just closed a giant EUR 20 million investment round, and it is listed as one of the industry’s fastest growing companies in Europe.

The Young Researcher-Entrepreneur competition is organized through the cooperation of KAUTE Foundation’s Academic Entrepreneurship Fund and the Startup Foundation. This year the competition was decided by a public vote. Dr. Kivelä received 79% of the 4172 votes cast.

For more information:
Reetta Kivelä
Gold & Green Foods
+358 50 369 9842

www.goldandgreenfoods.com
www.tutkijayrittaja.fi/

 

 

Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2014

Johanna Småros

Johanna Småros and her researcher colleagues founded RELEX Oy, a developer of automation supply chain management software that can reduce food spoilage by up to 40 percent.

The 2014 Young Researcher Entrepreneur is Ph.D. Johanna Småros. She is a logistics researcher who holds a doctorate from Aalto University is one of the founders of RELEX, the Logistics Company of the Year. Småros founded the company in 2005, together with two researcher colleagues. Today RELEX has grown and operates in four countries employing 75 people. The company’s demand prediction, inventory optimization, replenishment automation and supply chain analysis tools are used by, amongst others, Plantagen, Altia, Suomalainen Kirjakauppa as well as British drugstore Booths and German construction supplies company Kemmler Baustoffe. RELEX_Johanna_Småros-150x150

Ten years ago, Johanna Småros, together with her logistics researcher colleagues Mikko Kärkkäinen and Michael Falck wrote a research paper and presented their ideas to improve the management of retail logistics.

“The problem was that the stores were not able to integrate our improved models to their systems,”says Småros.

The researcher trio solved the problem by founding RELEX, which commercialized their research ideas into software as a service product that is easy to connect to existing retail ERP and POS systems. The RELEX system ensures that the shop has the optimal amount of inventory, consumers get fresher products and the sales forecasts for seasonal and holiday demand are improved. For example, as a result of RELEX’s software, Stockmann’s Delicatessen reduced food wastage by an average of 40 percent.

“This is hugely important, not only economically but also ecologically, as the goods are no longer wasted and dumped in the trash,” says Småros.

Next: Germany and the United Kingdom

The fast-growing company is already the market leader for new deliveries in the Nordic countries. In the near future, RELEX Commission aims to achieve the same position in the much larger German and UK markets, Småros says.

Deloitte has listed RELEX as the fastest growing supplier of efficiency-enhancing supply chain management systems in the EMEA region. Due to its profitable growth, Kauppalehti has recognized RELEX as one of Finland’s top startups.

“We want to encourage other researchers to follow Johanna Småros’s example. These new businesses can be used to utilize significant research findings and create new jobs,” says KAUTE Foundation Advocate Jouni Lounasmaa.

The Young Researcher Entrepreneur prize in the amount of € 5,000 is awarded by the KAUTE Foundation and the Startup Foundation. The award was presented to Småros on Entrepreneurs’ Day September 5th, 2014.

 

Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2013

Anssi Lehikoinen

The Young Researcher Entrepreneur of 2013 is Anssi Lehikoinen, PhD. The award is a new Finnish entrepreneurship prize which aims to recognize new businesses developed by researchers and encourage other young researchers to become entrepreneurs.Anssi Lehikoinen

“This is very important for the society, because a new business can be used to promote the utilization of major research findings and create new jobs,” says KAUTE Foundation Advocate Jouni Lounasmaa.

International demand for precise measurement methods for process industries

Anssi Lehikoinen, PhD, is currently President and CEO of Rocsole Oy, the company he founded in 2012. The company develops and commercializes process industry monitoring methods based on capacitance tomography and on-line measuring devices.

“Our product can be used to adjust the amount of deposit inhibitor chemicals used in process industries – thus reducing energy consumption of the use of these chemicals,” Lehikoinen says.

Since its founding, Rocsole Oy has been active in international markets. At the moment the company’s primary market is in North America. Customers include the basic process industries, the petroleum, chemical and food industries as well as process industry equipment manufacturers. In the future new markets will increasingly require accurate measurements for the precise management of various processes. As an example, Lehikoinen mentions closed water treatment systems, which currently do not have sufficiently reliable measurement solutions by which to determine the accumulation of deposits in pipeline. Also improvements can be made to the measurement of the moisture content of many powders.

During its very first year of operations the company’s turnover surpassed EUR 200,000 and the forecast for 2013 was EUR 1 million. Roscole Oy has been accepted to participate in TEKES’s Young Innovative Company program.

Breakthroughs in research lead to business success

Anssi Lehikoinen, born in 1979, completed his doctoral degree in 2012 at the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland Department. His doctoral thesis researched the applicability of a type of tomographic imaging method – impedance tomography – for soil research as well as pipeline flow monitoring in industrial processes. Lehikoinen developed computational methods to address inverse problems. These methods can be used to identify errors in both the measurement and modeling of image reconstruction. As a result of his research, tomographic methods have been made more robust allowing for their use in practical applications.

This is a breakthrough that has allowed for the commercialization of measurement methods and thus the generation of new businesses.

Two companies founded based on research

Before Rocsole Oy, Anssi Lehikoinen founded Numcore in 2008, which was sold to Outotec in March of last year. Both companies’ products are based on Anssi Lehikoinen’s research and its application in various industrial processes. Lehikoinen was also granted young researcher award for his outstanding doctoral thesis by the University of Eastern Finland in 2013.

The Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2013 competition was organized by the Federation of Finnish Enterprises’ Young Entrepreneurs and KAUTE Foundation’s Academic Entrepreneurship Fund. The jury’s decision was unanimous.

“Anssi Lehikoinen has demonstrated his unique capabilities to understand new issues in his research as well as his ability to network with the international research community. Furthermore, in addition to his duties as CEO he has been active in his companies in commercializing solutions to scientific and technical problems,” said chair of the jury Jarmo Hallikas.

“Thus, in his activities Anssi has successfully combined entrepreneurship and innovative research.”