Finland's CTOs of the year: Vesa Varjonen of Planmeca and Matti Heikkilä of Metgen
The CTO of the year award has been given to selected CTOs in Finland since 2011. This year, the winners will be celebrated at the CTO Forum and CTO Awards Gala at Restaurant Palace, Helsinki on March 19th. The emphasis for deciding the winners for 2018 was on companies that have renewed the Finnish industry with the actions. “Finnish industry is experiencing strong transformation and on the other hand SMEs have got an important role in boosting new businesses. Planmeca and MetGen are prime examples of these: through systematic investments in R&D and exploitation of digitalization Planmeca has created innovations that have renewed the whole sector. MetGen in turn has had the courage to develop a completely new technology for global markets and has been able to build an impressive partner network” describes the Chairperson of the Jury, Laura Juvonen of Technology Industries of Finland.
Exporting Finnish healthcare technology globally: Planmeca
Planmeca, founded in 1971, is one of the world’s leading producers of dental equipment, with products distributed in over 120 countries worldwide. As an R&D intensive healthcare technology company dynamically developing the world’s leading technologies it serves as a role model for the renewal of the Finnish manufacturing industry. “As a company, Planmeca is never ’ready’ nor do our products ever stop developing. Without this mentality innovation in the company would die” says the founder and CEO of Planmeca, Heikki Kyöstilä. The healthcare technology sector is growing in Finland and most of its turnover comes from exports.
Vesa Varjonen has worked for over 25 years in various roles in medical imaging. He has worked at Planmeca since 2004, and became the Vice President in research and technology in 2015. “The desire for growth and motivation arise from the power of example, manifested by role models like Vesa Varjonen. He shows the combination of strong knowledge, deep understanding of different technologies and research fields and years of experience”, describes Kyöstilä. “In a fast-developing world, the importance of cooperation with different partners e.g. universities, research groups and startups is of great importance, and here Vesa’s active role has been crucial.”
Varjonen has a Master of Science degree in Medical Technology, Applied Electronics and Computer Technology. “In the Jury’s discussions it was also emphasized how important multidisciplinary education and knowledge is for the development of future technologies“, states Juvonen.
A new force catalyzing renewal: MetGen
MetGen excels in tailor-made industrial enzymatic solutions for the energy, renewable chemicals, and pulp&paper industries. The “ace” of this cleantech-company is the genetic tailoring of its enzymes, which makes them work effectively in demanding conditions. Though a small company MetGen has been able to build extensive partnerships and win a substantial amount of public funding to develop and pilot novel, sustainable and resource-efficient solutions for several industrial processes with its partners.
”CTO Matti Heikkilä is an excellent networker. He is not afraid to approach even the big players, which is an important trait for a fast-growing SME. Heikkilä is a role model for other SME CTOs in showing how new ecosystems are built benefitting from EU funding and how Finland is renewed through the creation of new, sustainable solutions for industry”, highlights Juvonen.
One of MetGen’s strengths is to bring new solutions from the laboratory to industrial applications effectively. “In practice Matti has created a whole value chain from scratch. He continues to strive in creating new technologies supporting new business” says Alex Michine, CEO of MetGen. The company’s product development platform is one of Heikkilä’s merits – with the platform MetGen can bring new products to the markets in less than five months from the initial idea, which makes it the world leader in its sector. With Heikkilä’s lead the emissions in the production process have been minimized in practice down to zero.
Heikkilä is also responsible for marketing and new business development. “The ecosystems built by Matti maximise the benefits of all parties. He has an incredible ability to shape whole industries with his vision” adds Michine. “It’s amazing how well he manages to share our vision internally as well as among financiers, especially in such a complex field as ours.”
For further information:
The Finnish Technology Industries, Laura Juvonen, +358 40 589 6263
This year, Finnish CTO of the Year prize is awarded for the eight time to highlight the importance of Chief Technology Officers to the future competitiveness of Finnish industries. The CTO of the Year is an inspiring leader and has an active role in the society. The awardees are chosen by a jury consisting of leading technology experts in Finland. The chairman of the jury is Director Laura Juvonen, Technology Industries of Finland. The CTO Forum is a community of Chief Technology Officers and technology leaders to learn from their peers and benchmark against the best practices in the field. The Forum provides a platform for networking across different industries and for companies of all sizes, raises the awareness of Finnish technology leadership and promotes visibility of CTOs and their companies. CTO Forum and the CTO of the Year Award is organised in collaboration with Business Finland, Technology Industries of Finland and Spinverse.