Sam Laakkonen has been nominated Head Mentor and Senior Advisor for Incubator Operations at the University of Helsinki. Sam started his career as a management consultant in the City of London from where he was headhunted to join his first startup, FirstMark Communications, which raised the largest telecommunications Series A round in European history, $1.5 billion. At FirstMark, Sam was responsible for building and running the company's Spanish office, which would eventually grow to a 5,000km network, 65 employees, and €300 million in booked revenue before a trade sale exit to Colt Technologies.
He has subsequently been an early employee at Spotify, privately invested in over 25 startups, had 3 further successful exits from companies, helped well over 100 startups to accelerate growth, and worked for the European Commission to distribute over €1 billion in equity and grant funding. He is currently a Contingent Managing Director at Techstars, responsible for building a Sustainability Accelerator in Helsinki, Finland. He has also been the Entrepreneur-In-Residence for Techstars Amsterdam and a Lead Mentor on a number of programmes including Techstars Lisbon, Techstars Korea, Techstars Oslo, and Techstars Boulder.
Andrés-Leonardo Martínez-Ortiz, better known as almo, holds a PhD on Software, Systems, and Computing and is a member of the Google Machine Learning Site Reliability Engineering team where he leads several programs aiming for reliability & convergence. He is also a member of IEEE, ACM, the Linux Foundation and Computer Society.
Almo joins the Helsinki Incubators as a valued Senior Mentor.
Monika Rozalska-Lilo is a Senior Startup and VC Business Developer, EMEA, at Amazon Web Services. She is responsible for working with early-stage startups and ecosystem partners across Israel, DACH, Nordics and Benelux. Prior to joining AWS, Monika served as CEO of Creators, an innovation lab based in Tel Aviv that supports organizations in developing and improving innovation practices through a range of global innovation programs with technological startups, tailored to specific needs of global corporations and public sector entities. Some of Creators’ partners included Barclays, Bosch, Visa, Israeli ministries or United Nations.
Monika joins Helsinki Incubators as a highly regarded Senior Mentor
Tamir Huberman holds an MSc in Structural Biology and MBA studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has a diploma in Electronics and Computers. Tamir was appointed as Yeda’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Head of Marketing in December 2019. He is also the director of IT at ITTN (Israel Technology Transfer Organization) and brings over 20 years’ experience in core IT system implementation, deal negotiation and public speaking to Yeda.
Prior to joining Yeda, Tamir was the Founder of THI, CIO at Yissum, (Technology Transfer company of Hebrew University), served on the Board of Directors at InnerEye and was an Observer on the Board at BriefCam.
Tamir joins the Helsinki Incubators as a distinguished Senior Mentor.
Kim Väisänen started his career by founding Blancco Ltd in 1997. He led the company for 15 years and grew it into international success, until it was sold to London Stock Exchange listed company on 2014. After that, Kim has been focusing on private investments.
Kim is a well-recognized columnist and blogger for several newspapers and online publications, as well as a popular public speaker in Finland. He is also the author of two best-selling books in Finland.
Kim joins the Helsinki Incubators as a respected Senior Mentor.
Merja Leppänen works currently as a Head of Sales Excellence and Global Sales Competence Manager at ABB. She has 15 years of experience in global sales and in addition several years of experience in sales competence development, sales process development, customer experience and people development. She is also Certified Business Coach® with sales coaching and business coaching experience.
Merja holds BSc. Engineering Degree in Industrial Economics and MSc. in Environmental Management. She has true passion to develop business and customer experience through continuous people development.
Merja joins Helsinki Incubators as a respected Senior Mentor.
Juan Manuel Cortés Gallindo, also known as Juanma, is an entrepreneur and investor with plenty of experience in growing tech companies across Latin America and Europe. His expertise has helped companies scale up to between 3 to 5 times their size YOY.
As a versatile leader with a strong computer science background, Juanma has had the opportunity to work in a number of roles ranging from operations to sales, having helped and led technical teams and executives rethink models, created new revenue streams, and brought cohesiveness to teams and clients. He also helps organisations develop partner network ecosystems regionally, develop world class products, and deliver great software to millions of users.
Juanma joins the Helsinki Incubators as an esteemed Senior Mentor.
Michael Vormittag is currently leading the Digital Enablement & CTO Office at Daimler Truck. In his role he is both a technology evangelist and catalyst driving Daimler's digital transformation, while also providing foundational technology products to the whole organisation. Michael has a passion for technology and collaboration, and strongly believes that the combination of both leads to sustainable progress and innovation.
Prior to this function, Michael was the head of Digital Innovation & Partnerships at Mercedes-Benz's Marketing and Sales, working on all aspects of the innovation value chain. Defining strategy for their digital business, leading IT in the Mercedes-Benz Investment team, running a corporate startup program (“The Builders”) out of Tel Aviv, and building the largest Innovation Network in Mercedes-Benz.
Throughout his career, he has held various positions in the field of bringing innovation to reality, from product ownerships and app development to agile coaching and design thinking – always keeping in mind the holistic picture of how to build digital products.
Michael Vormittag studied Industrial Engineering and Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, and the Singapore Management University.
Michael joins the Helsinki Incubators as a trusted Senior Mentor.
Anja Leissner has an extensive background in the food industry with engagement in innovative projects at Lund’s University and big corporations in dairy, vegetable oils, and flavouring solutions (Tetra Pak, Skånemejerier, AAK, Bush Boake Allen).
Her expertise in biotechnology, microbiology, food science and systems, and dairy technology and processes has been dedicated to deep molecular research, as well as product development, food production, and distribution.
An invention in functionalising plant proteins resulted in a patent and the founding of Stockeld Dreamery early 2019 (then Noquo Foods) a plant based company set out to create the world’s most ambitious cheese. Stockeld has launched two products based on Anja’s proven technology, raised significant funds, and has about 40 employees.
Anja has been engaged in mentoring other startups since 2020 (Rockstart, Norrsken Foundation) and is now exploring new adventures and opportunities where her unique skill-set can have an impact. She is excited to support other companies in the space after building Stockeld's company, team and products for 3 years.
Anja joins Helsinki Incubators as a prestigious Senior Mentor.
Marko Berg has a finance related background through studies at Aalto University, and before joining the University of Helsinki he worked for over seven years in an investment banking in boutique offices in Helsinki. His experience in analysing all kinds of different businesses gives him the overall business perspective. As a “numbers guy” without scientific substance knowledge he takes an outsiders’ commercial view in different cases.
He joined the University in late 2019 and has been building the University's role in spinouts, investments, reporting, and other processes. In 2020, Marko launched the University’s HELSEED programme to invest in student founded startups.
Marko joins the Helsinki Incubators as an illustrious Senior Mentor.
Tuomas Oksanen is a Partner and Investor Director at Grid.vc. He has a “Been there, done that” approach to things, thanks to years of hands-on startup experience from various positions, including as the first employee at a successful start-up, and as co-founder at another. He is also a former Aalto Startup Center advisor for funding and financing, and has assisted 100+ startups to develop their businesses. He is an eternal optimist with honest realism.
Tuomas joins the Helsinki Incubators as an acclaimed Senior Mentor.
Svetlana Marmutova, PhD, is energized by working on sustainability and technology solutions enabling it. She has worked at a cleantech start-up in Finland as a product development engineer and has gained hands-on experience in the wind power industry in Benelux working in a multicultural team. She has recently joined Accenture's strategy practice, intending to leverage her impact in sustainable development of the society.
Svetlana aims to assist teams to identify or crystallise the sustainability aspects of their solution as well as to master data presentation.
Svetlana joins the Helsinki Incubators as a masterful Senior Mentor.
Saku Suuriniemi holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering, with minor in Mathematics. After a nearly two decade career in academic research and education at Tampere University of Technology, he co-founded Jalonne Oy, a startup to monitor the condition of highways with smartphones as the data acquisition platform. His role at Jalonne was Head of R&D, with plenty of hands-on work in a small startup. After an intensive four-year stint of developing mathematical analysis methods to make the data work for well planned and coordinated road maintenance, he shifted to a consulting Data Scientist role at Reaktor.
Saku joins Helsinki Incubators as an invaluable Senior Mentor.
Lasse Koskela is technologist at heart, having worked with a multitude of technologies designing, implementing and auditing software systems and architectures for over 20 years. His dark past includes things like making people pay for ringtones, designing a two-sided marketplace platform and ecosystem for edutech, several live streaming and video on-demand services, and mobile application development on various mobile platforms as well as with cross-platform technologies.
For several years, he also consulted and taught agile software development methods and served as a Certified Scrum Trainer. His perhaps most out-of-place engagement to date, however, has been with the European Commission.
Having worked on three continents and consulted for major brands such as LG, Nikon, Dow Jones, Equinox, Marriott, and HBO, Lasse has more recently focused on advising clients on technology strategy with clients predominantly in the healthcare and retail domains.
Lasse joins Helsinki Incubators as an eminent Senior Mentor.
Luisa Rubio Arribas is the Head of Wayra X, Telefonica's investment vehicle to globally execute seed and early-stage investments in pure digital startups oriented to consumer markets. She has been working in Spain and the USA focusing most of her career in Open Innovation initiatives, where she has led investment, divestment, and business development opportunities with more than 100 startups around the world. Luisa holds a double Degree in Law, Labour Relations and Human Resources by Complutense University of Madrid and a Master in Lawyering from the Open University of Catalonia.
Luisa joins Helsinki Incubators as an honorable Senior Mentor.
Lasse Huotari is Technical Solution Architect in IBM Finland. He has work in several technical specialist roles on field of AI and Cloud Computing combining sales and technical experience. His passion is to solve real world problems with next-generation technologies. In his roles Lasse has worked with start-ups and enterprise clients in various industries across Northern Europe.
Lasse has also role as IBM Academic Ambassador, where he has acted as a guest lecturer in several universities. As part of the ambassador role Lasse has also acted as a mentor for early technology professionals.
Lasse joins Helsinki Incubators as a wisened mentor.
Fernando Trolia (MSc Eng, MBA, Tech) is originally from Argentina, and has lived and worked in different countries before settling in Finland in 2011. With 20+ years of international corporate experience, he has developed and managed international businesses in diverse B2B industries; from energy and food, to the technology and service domains.
In recent years, he's focused on building new businesses and ventures, engaging with emerging players to craft together a position in a better future. His areas of expertise are strategy development, business road-mapping, product-market fitting, and solution-selling growth — with and to global industrial customers.
He is passionate about innovation and business transformations aided with lean startup and service design methodologies, to help revitalize team cultures, and create delightful and scalable solutions with real-world impact.
Fernando joins Helsinki Incubators as an illustrious Senior Mentor.
Ramón Crespí is an entrepreneur from Mallorca who lives between Helsinki and Palma with over 17 years' experience in several positions across different business verticals, mostly as founder. Ramon has founded a total of 7 companies, and is currently building a new project in the crypto space.
His story with ThePower Business School is long, but to summarise, he was an early adopter, ambassador, and today the company's former manager for Finland. Thanks to his journey with ThePower Business School, Ramon has gotten training from the heads and founders of Google X, AirBnb, Waze, Whole Foods, Netflix, and Tesla, to name a few. During his time with BMW, Ramón changed the mind of thousands of company owners in the Balearic Islands, and introduced the electric car as a corporate mobility solution, leading the change there for almost two years before moving on to other projects.
Ramón has done business with the most powerful Finnish families, and understands how business and behaviour is conducted in the Nordics. But what makes him different is his story: coming from a modest business family, Ramón had a fortunate encounter with a famous German hedge fund manager in the 90’s which inspired him. Since then, he has actively invested in real estate, the stock market, data-centres, and cryptocurrency.
Ramón joins Helsinki Incubators as an adept Senior Mentor.
Matti Aksela received his doctorate in machine learning with a minor in industrial management from Helsinki University of Technology (a precursor of Aalto). After having started in the industry as a data scientist before the term was coined, Matti has worked in senior leadership roles in both startups and publicly listed companies focusing on the use of data and machine learning and building innovative solutions across a variety of industries. Currently Matti is responsible for Managed Services at WithSecure (formerly F-Secure B2B business), a role which he moved to at the beginning of the year after heading the company’s Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence.
Matti has experience in driving new initiatives through, leading teams of ranging from just a small group to well over a hundred, designing and developing innovative solutions to real problems, technology, strategy and business ownership, finding and convincing the right stakeholders and working with Boards of both startups and public companies, among other things. Topics of particular interest for Matti are finding the right business and technology fit of innovative solutions utilizing large amounts of data, utilizing his experience in different roles to iterate towards the right idea-to-market fit and being a big believer in the critical role of people in any success story, focusing on team and stakeholder network development and actively supporting, coaching and mentoring of the people behind the idea.
Matti joins Helsinki Incubators as a revered Senior Mentor.
Neri Friedlander is a Director of Innovation and Partnerships for Continental's Innovation and Venture Capital organization. As part of his role, he leads Continental's activities in Israel and has a global Innovation role for Continental Tires and Contitech divisions to form partnerships and investments by leveraging access to startups and VC ecosystems.
Neri has a strong passion for developing new data business models and transforming companies from selling commoditized hardware to software and data. He believes that the right path for disruptive innovation starts from building bridges between non-traditional partners and finding the right synergies for business collaboration.
Prior to his job at Continental, Neri led the development of new mobility initiatives for Daimler Mobility Services and shaped their data monetization strategy. Later on, he continued to the R&D division of Mercedes-Benz to support its Autonomous Mobility and Cybersecurity in its R&D hub in Tel Aviv.
Neri holds a BSc from Erasmus University, The Netherlands and an MSc in IT & Management from Rotterdam School of Management.
Neri joins Helsinki Incubators as an appreciated Senior Mentor.
Tomi Kankainen, born dynamic, agile, and innovative, for real. Fast and relentless, but at the same time very humane. Forward-looking leader, a visionary with an ability to create and sell the future instead of just looking at it. Not fond of hierarchies, instead believing equal people pursuing the same vision together will reach the stars. He likes to do things together in as diverse and multidisciplinary teams as possible. He knows what digitalization is in practice, how business and products and services are created, and what it takes to lead transformation. He likes doing concrete stuff instead of power points. He has been working with start-ups and large corporations and everything in between. More than twenty years of experience on all organizational levels from a global corporate management team executive to a design team member.
Born in Finland, he holds an MA in Industrial Design from University of Art and Design Helsinki (Now Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture), and an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Tampere University of Technology (now University of Tampere).
Specialties: Vision and strategy. Product and service creation. Lean Agile leadership and transformation. Digitalization, innovation and creativity. Utter interest in human behavior, technology, and business. Practicing and coaching martial arts and strength training.
Tomi joins Helsinki Incubators as an experienced Senior Mentor.
Pablo Campos has over 20 years of experience in people & business development, operations, and marketing. During his career he has held different responsibilities in companies like Google, Telefonica, and Stellantis Group in tech-related roles. Since 2016, he has co-founded 3 startups in the mobility, clean-tech, and AI & biotech industries, and he has been C-level advisor on several projects. He is also a co-founder of a Spanish Venture Capital fund focused in early-seed startups.
Pablo holds a Master's degree from I.E. Business School in digital business, a financial business degree, and an industrial engineering degree. He has been teaching during the last 10 years in several universities and business schools in topics such as strategy & operations, marketing, and startup commercial & investor pitching. He is also a startup mentor in several renowned incubators as GoHub Startups, Santander Explorer Experts, EIT Urban Mobility & EIT Climate-KIC.
Entrepreneurship and working with people around startups projects have been his passions and main focus during the past few years.
Pablo joins Helsinki Incubators as a wisened Senior Mentor.
Antti Ritala has 12 years experience in investments, strategy, and management consulting with renewables and energy-transition focus. Antti is currently heading corporate venture capital at Neste, the world's leading producer of biofuels and renewable feedstock solutions for polymers & chemicals. Prior to this, Antti was leading Neste strategy development and worked in management consulting with McKinsey & Company. Examples of areas that Antti has worked on: renewable & circular solutions for transportation & chemicals, technology investments and scale-up, strategy development, GTM, sourcing strategies, pricing, performance transformation.
Antti joins Helsinki Incubators as an esteemed Senior Mentor.
Minna Väkevä, PhD has a doctorate in physics, and in addition to years as a researcher, has also worked for several companies of different sizes ranging from start-up to listed company. She has been involved in in international and Finnish projects and businesses in a variety of fields, working with several different internal and external stakeholders.
Working together with brilliant scientists, she amassed hands-on experience building and leading a University of Helsinki spin-off, Airmodus Oy, as its CEO for 7 years. She coached the team in systemised ways of working in all functions of the company and generating value to the customers by having them as the company's the leading star.
Now Minna is an entrepreneur at Innoa Oy and currently helps Lifa Air Oyj as Interim CTO. She is also a partner of Hallituspartnerit Helsinki – Board Professionals Finland, and an enthusiastic developer of the collaboration of owners, the board, and the executives of a company. She believes in networking and co-innovation, and it's impossible not to get introduced to a few new people while working with her.
Minna joins Helsinki Incubators as a respected Senior Mentor.