To boost its innovation activities, the University of Helsinki has established the Inno Advisory Board, a new body composed of specialists in business life, entrepreneurship and commercialisation. It will propel the University in, for example, making strategic choices, developing services and establishing partnerships. The leadership of the University of Helsinki has set the bar high: The goal is to become one of the leading innovation universities in Europe.
“The new Inno Advisory Board supports us in this effort. Its members have a strong background in business life and entrepreneurship. They will bring to the University valuable insight into how to successfully develop the academic innovation environment,” says Jouni Hirvonen, Vice-Rector for innovation.
Senior Research Manager Kari Aaltonen of Nokia Bell Labs, Executive Vice-President (Sustainable products and materials) Tua Huomo of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Senior Vice-President (Group R&D) Katariina Kemppainen of Metsä Group, Head of Digital Innovation Juha-Matti Kuusinen of KONE and Reetta Rajala, an entrepreneur specialising in change management, have been appointed as members of the Inno Advisory Board.
“Together with the academic leadership, we are currently drafting a roadmap for innovation at the University of Helsinki extending to 2030, which makes it possible, right from the get-go, for the board members to provide relevant sparring with the important perspective of businesses and entrepreneurs,” says Director of Communications and Community Relations Taina Kyllönen, who heads the University’s innovation team.
The term of office of the Inno Advisory Board will run until the end of 2025. Meetings are held four times a year, in addition to which the advisory board will organise workshops and campus visits as well as networking with researchers and University leadership. The Inno Advisory Board is chaired by Vice-Rector Jouni Hirvonen. The meetings will be regularly attended also by Chancellor Kaarle Hämeri, innovation team lead Taina Kyllönen, Director Santtu von Bruun for innovation ecosystems and Director of Fundraising Pia Dolivo, who will serve as the presenting official for the meetings.
Kari Aaltonen, Senior Research Manager, Nokia Bell Labs
Kari Aaltonen, MSc, works as Senior Research Manager at Nokia Bell Labs, where he oversees research on cognitive information networks. Aaltonen began his career at Nokia in 1987. Among other things, he has led a laboratory focused on mobile networks, developed telecommunications software and worked in a number of research leadership positions. Aaltonen wishes to support the University of Helsinki particularly in boosting its international competitiveness and research.
“The diversity of faculties is a particular strength for the University of Helsinki. Exploring the metaverse, one of the currently important fields of research, can at the University of Helsinki be linked with, for example, atmospheric and behavioural sciences. The University can put current technology to the test with altogether new innovations.”
Tua Huomo, Executive Vice-President, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Tua Huomo, PhD, MBA, has carved out a long career at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Presently she is in charge of sustainable products and materials, which investigates and develops solutions in the fields of the bioeconomy, circular economy and digitalisation. Huomo is Vice-Chair of the Board of CSC – IT Center for Science and a member of the Board of the European Joint Research Centre. In the case of the University of Helsinki, she wishes to promote business collaboration and the impact of research.
“Academic expertise is a good starting point for everything. I hope that I will be able to help in identifying different dimensions of impact: already when drawing up research plans, you can consider whether the results will benefit the operations of a business or the development of entirely new innovations. All fields have something to offer.”
Katariina Kemppainen, Senior Vice-President (Group R&D), Metsä Group
Katariina Kemppainen, DSc (Tech), has solid experience of commercialising research findings, including piloting and proof-of-concept validation. Since starting her career as a researcher at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, she has worked, for example, at Metsä Spring, which invests in promising new businesses. Indeed, Kemppainen is intimately familiar with startup needs. At the moment, she is in charge of research and development at Metsä Group, and actively follows trends in the bioeconomy.
“It appears that the University of Helsinki is already well on its way to establishing its innovation culture. I preach particularly in favour of dismantling silos, even though it may be a bit uncomfortable at times. It’s important to share enough information sufficiently extensively to support the creation of innovations.”
Juha-Matti Kuusinen, Head of Digital Innovation, KONE Corporation
The speciality of Juha-Matti Kuusinen, DSc (Tech), is high-tech innovations. Since 2011, Kuusinen has worked in various research and development positions at the lift company KONE, where he is currently responsible for innovation projects related to smart buildings. Kuusinen is particularly interested in artificial intelligence, algorithms and digital twins, as well as customer-oriented development. He believes he can support the University of Helsinki in promoting innovation and business collaboration.
“In my career, I’ve collaborated a lot with universities as well as research and technology companies. Based on my experience, I think that forms of cooperation could be further developed and diversified to meet the needs of both the University and businesses.”
Reetta Rajala, entrepreneur specialising in change management and investor
Reetta Rajala, MSc (Econ), is known as the founder of CCEA, a company focused on change consultation. Under her leadership, CCEA grew from a one-person business to an organisation that employs 50 people and supports a number of significant Finnish companies from Kesko to Nokia. Rajala is also a member of the boards of Juuri Partners and Ivalo Creative Agency, as well as serving on several advisory boards. She will make available to the University of Helsinki her extensive experience of entrepreneurship and business development.
“While sales and marketing have not traditionally been considered strengths typical of Finns, new generations have brought more courage to these areas as well. Finding the right customers is the cornerstone of every business’s success. Entrepreneurship is about perseverance, which requires a certain kind of attitude.”