illustration of university spinoffs
Created through a merger between the University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology in 2019, Tampere University has seen numerous business success stories capitalising on scientific research findings and innovations. Image: Julia Bushueva

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Tampere University spinoffs

Generating new knowledge and expertise to address the most pressing challenges of our time, Tampere University helps to create new business opportunities for wider public benefit.

Zhanna Koiviola

23.05.2022

With around 21 000 students and close to 4 000 staff members, Tampere University was established in its current form in 2019 through a merger between the University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology. Today, it is one of the most multidisciplinary universities in Finland that promotes the practical utilisation of research findings and innovations, and supports new businesses stemming from them.

Having previously covered the University of Helsinki and the University of Turku, we’re taking yet another dive into the fascinating world of Finnish academic spinoff companies.

Check out these five firms with their roots in Tampere University or its predecessors.

StemSight

eye treatment

According to StemSight, the use of stem cells could expand the treatment options for corneal blindness and help to solve the current shortage of cornea donors. Image: StemSight

Recognised as Europe’s most innovative startup in life sciences in 2020, StemSight is developing novel stem cell-based treatments for corneal blindness, the fourth leading cause of blindness globally, which affects people of all ages and is often found in young patients as a result of burns or trauma to the surface of the eye.

Built on years of research at Tampere University, StemSight solutions are utilising allogeneic induced pluripotent stem cells taken from healthy donors and re-programmed into cells capable of forming unlimited copies of themselves. Once introduced to the eye, the cells will regenerate the cornea by replicating.

“There is a huge lack of cornea donor tissue, with 12.7 million people worldwide waiting for a corneal transplant,” explained co-founder and CEO Laura Koivusalo. “We can use human stem cells to manufacture new corneal cells in a scalable way to provide solutions for different types of corneal blindness.”

The all female-founded company’s pioneering solutions have attracted praise from such prominent Finnish deep tech investors as Voima Ventures and Avohoidon Tutkimussäätiö. In late 2021, StemSight secured 500 000 euros in a seed funding round to further develop its cell therapy products.

QuVa

an illustration of a AI-driven platform for industry

QuVa provides process industry players with AI- and data-driven tools for quality assurance, troubleshooting and operations optimisation. Image: QuVa

Founded in 2010 as a spinoff from the University of Tampere’s data science programme, QuVa has grown into a leading software-as-a-service (SAAS) provider for industrial analytics. The company’s flagship product, AI-driven industrial analytics platform QuvaFlow, was developed with manufacturers in mind to enable the practical application of production data.

The QuvaFlow platform, trusted by such process industry heavyweights as UPM, Metsä Board, Stora Enso and Metso Outotec, automatically combines data from relevant data sources, analyses them and presents the real-time results in an easy-to-use visual format for the personnel to make optimal decisions and enable more stable production.

“Industry workers waste time on frustrating tasks. Downloading information from systems and compiling endless reports, as well as evaluating solutions to problems when not enough information is available. At Quva, we help our customers to work smarter,” said CEO and co-founder Olli Pasanen.

Vexlum

laser equipment

According to Vexlum, its laser systems can help to open up new possibilities for the development of quantum computers. Image: Vexlum

A spinoff from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), Vexlum is a provider of state-of-the-art laser systems and one of the strongest growing startup companies in Tampere, according to Business Tampere. Leveraging over a decade of research on vertical external-cavity surface-emitting laser (VECSEL) technology, Vexlum’s products are now particularly sought-after for quantum technology and medical science applications.

“We have taken the best of different lasers: wavelength adjustability, high power and good beam quality,” said co-founder, CEO and CTO Jussi-Pekka Penttinen.

Providing “a combination of desirable properties specifically for quantum research”, Vexlum is a valuable part of new developments in the field of Finnish quantum technology. Earlier this year, the company joined QuTi, a major three-year project coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland that aims to develop new components, algorithms, manufacturing and testing solutions for the needs of quantum technology.

As a part of the growing Finnish quantum ecosystem, Vexlum is also looking to expand its international impact. In the last few months, Vexlum was among members of the high-profile Finnish delegations to India and the US looking to create new partnerships in quantum technology and beyond.

Wirepas

a group of people posing next to the mural

Wirepas is at the forefront of digitalisation of industries by delivering IoT connectivity solutions that are both affordable and reliable. Image: Wirepas

Originating in research carried out at the University of Tampere in the 2000s, Wirepas was established in 2010 and is now an internationally recognised provider of large-scale enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) solutions serving hundreds of global customers in smart tracking, smart manufacturing, smart metering, as well as smart building.

For example, Wirepas Massive, a unique connectivity software that allows devices to automatically form limitless and reliable IoT networks, enables fellow Finnish company Valpas to provide modern travellers with care- and bug-free hotel experiences, while Dutch company Ingy relies on Wirepas’s solutions for its scalable smart lighting systems.

Wirepas is also the main contributor to the first non-cellular 5G standard. Last September, the company closed a 10 million-euro funding round led by Karma Ventures and Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi) to accelerate the development of the purpose-built technology and ramp up its commercial launch in 2022.

“Thanks to the great market interest and lead customers’ fast time to market targets, we have decided to accelerate the first non-cellular 5G product development,” commented Teppo Hemiä, CEO of Wirepas. “We knew our solution was special.”

ColloidTek

a worker next to the industrial equipment

ColloidTek brings diverse benefits to liquid process industry customers, including enhanced production and quality, as well as savings in raw materials, time and energy. Image: ColloidTek

Founded in 2017 after extensive scientific research on liquids at the Tampere University of Technology, ColloidTek is an expert in measuring the digital fingerprint of liquids. The green tech startup has developed an innovative solution, known as Collo, that makes it possible to constantly measure a liquid being processed and analyse in real time any changes detected.

“Our liquid performance platform offers not just arbitrary data, but actionable parameters for easier and more comprehensive process control,” highlighted CEO Matti Järveläinen. “We are developing our analytical system into an even easier-to-implement solution that improves the efficiency of any liquid process.”

Investors have taken note of ColloidTek’s technology and its potential in helping to optimise the use of energy, chemicals and raw materials in industrial liquid processes, resulting in significant economic savings while combating global warming. Last year, the company raised 2.8 million euros in a funding round led by Denmark’s Scale Capital and joined by Finland’s Maki.vc, private investors, the EU and Business Finland.

The funding injection, as ColloidTek revealed, is to be spent on acquiring new talent, driving sales performance in Europe and building a foothold in the US.

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