Finland’s CTOs of the Year 2017: Reijo Salonen, Orion and Reetta Kivelä, Gold&Green Foods

Reijo Salonen, Senior Vice President of Research and Development of Pharmaceuticals and Chief Medical Officer from Orion and Reetta Kivelä, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer from Gold&Green Foods have been elected as Finland’s CTOs of the Year 2017. In the selection process, the emphasis was put on companies with significant societal impact. “Election of the awardees was exceptionally unanimous this year. Salonen and Kivelä have both shown their remarkable contribution to their companies and to their societal networks”, says Chairman of the Jury Harri Kerminen. CTO of the Year award is a joint undertaking by Tekes and Spinverse.

The award has been given to CTOs in Finland since 2010. Once again the jury decided to award winners from two categories: SMEs and large corporations. In the corporations’ category, Orion’s impact on Finnish pharmaceutical research and development gained the jury’s attention. Orion develops, manufactures and markets human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, active pharmaceutical ingredients and diagnostic tests and is a clear market leader in Finland. In the SME category, Gold&Green Foods stood out from the other candidates. Gold&Green Foods was established in 2015 and their first product, Pulled Oats™, attracted wide attention even before reaching the stores in May 2016. Pulled Oats™ hits the focal point of global megatrends; it is simple and easy-to-use alternative in cooking but it also addresses the rising concern of environmental pressure caused by meat production.

“Gold&Green Foods’ products are an answer to a greater global challenge, whereas the economic and research development at Orion have been exceptional during the last 10 years. This years’ winners present fundamentally different industries in comparison to the previous winners. This is the first time the awardees are from the food and pharmaceutical industries. The jury’s view is that both companies’ business combine significant technological and societal aspects”, Kerminen concludes.

Thriving innovation culture through organizational transformation in the pharmaceutical industry

Reijo Salonen was appointed as Senior Vice President, Research and Development of Pharmaceuticals in 2006. Before that, he held senior research positions at GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. At the time, Orion was facing a challenging situation in R&D and the company was lagging behind major multinational pharmaceutical corporations. Reijo Salonen led the organizational culture change of the entire R&D department towards a more open, transparent and enthusiastic culture in all R&D activities. His solid experience and broad networks contributed to the positive development of Orion’s business and profits – not to mention the positive effects of new medicines to the world.

Organizational transformation enabled establishing open innovation processes in the company. At the same time as Orion focused its internal efforts in gaining competitive advantage, the company adopted a strategic approach to outsourcing research of its non-core activities and started conducting research projects as external scientific collaborations on a global level. With the help of the broad collaboration networks, Orion’s resources and competences grew. An example of Orion’s R&D achievement is the medicinal treatment for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, which The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland granted the 2014 Innovation Award. Another achievement from Orion’s R&D is the novel prostate cancer treatment, which was among the five finalists in the Innovation Award in 2016. Orion aims to bring the prostate cancer treatment to markets by 2019 and the Alzheimer’s disease treatment later on.

“The organisational change took some effort and now we can see the its results in the development of innovative products. It is exciting to see that our success has been acknowledged more widely”, Salonen comments.

Solution to the environmental challenges of meat production

Reetta Kivelä has been the CTO of Gold&Green Foods since its establishment. The core idea of Gold&Green Foods is sustainability and an innovation that utilises Finnish ingredients and has global markets. Gold&Green Foods has received several recognitions. In 2016, the company was awarded as the best Finnish innovation and took the lead in the society-category at Productive Idea Competition. Pulled Oats™ in turn was selected as the food phenomenon of the year. In autumn 2016, Paulig Group acquired 51 % of Gold&Green Foods shares to improve production capacity and international commercialisation of Pulled Oats™.

Pulled Oats™ is a result of Kivelä’s development work and she was chosen as Finnish Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2015. The idea of Pulled Oats™ came from the CEO of Gold&Green Foods Maija Itkonen, who proposed to Kivelä her idea of a plant based protein with oat as a main ingredient. Kivelä’s previous work had focused precisely on research and processing of oat fiber’s beta-glucan.

“It is great that Pulled Oats™ gains recognition. CTO of the Year award is a recognition for the entire Gold&Green Food product development team, not only a personal achievement. During the last years, health and nutrition awareness has increased and therein lies the key for solving some of the great challenges we face globally. The food industry is going through revolutionary times and Pulled Oats™ might be a key element in it”, Reetta Kivelä comments.

This year, Finnish CTO of the Year prize is awarded for the seventh 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 Harri Kerminen. 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 Tekes and Spinverse.

2016 CTO Survey: The world is moving towards Open Innovation 2.0 - where is Finland?

The term “Open Innovation” was originally coined in 2003, and refers to the paradigm where ideas pass between different organisations to create value. Since the 2010s innovation efforts have moved towards Open Innovation 2.0, where shared added value is created together with different actors in an ecosystem. According to Spinverse's latest CTO Survey, Finnish companies have acknowledged Open Innovation 2.0 and there is a willingness for its implementation. In practice the innovation efforts are still closer to the original principles of open innovation, rather than OI 2.0.

The benefits of developing together in Open Innovation have given organisations the chance to develop products and services, which they wouldn't have the resources to do on their own. Competitive advantage and success can be seen as a result of the strength of the ecosystem, not of the individual company.

In the 2010s the former Intel Labs Europe CTO Martin Curley brought to the wider audience the concept of Open Innovation 2.0. In this advanced mode of OI, it is not enough for the the organisations to look beyond their own borders, but to implement cross-sectoral co-operation to create shared value-added together with different actors, to foster the ecosystem and to ensure the adoption of new technologies and innovation in the ecosystem.

With Martin Curley's leadership, Intel Labs Europe was the forerunner in Open Innovation 2.0 by building a European wide co-operation network, which comprises of tens of R&D centers and a wide range of researchers. Currently Martin Curley is a Professor of Open Innovation and he was awarded as the European CTO ofthe year 2015.

"It is not enough that organisations just look beyond their borders. They must actively seek cooperation with different actors. To come up with solutions to major challenges, we must build completely new ecosystems, where innovations are created together, according to set rules and by sharing the risk" states Curley.

Finland lagging behind

Theresults of 2016 CTO-Survey conducted by Spinverse show that CTOs in Finland are aware of OI 2.0 and are intent to implement its principles. As many as three quarters of the respondents felt that involving the customers and doing development together across organisations and industry borders, and the open sharing of ideas, is a part of successful open innovation.

At Kone - globally recognised for its innovativeness - open innovation is part of the corporate culture. "Part of open innovation is that even the CEO is an active networker" comments Tomio Pihkala, the CTO of Kone.

According to the survey, 90% of the respondents say that the organisation they represent is capable of collaborating with partners and customers. Finnish companies believe that sharing ideas openly with outside partners will lead to success.

"In practice, the innovation efforts still remain closer to the original principles of open innovation, where cooperation circles around the organisation's own targets and ideas and not of those of the ecosystem." says Laura Koponen, Managing Director of Spinverse Innovation Management.

The majority of companies engage their current customers in collaboration and they know how to work together successfully.

Short-term R&D investments grow

Those responsible for the R&D in Finnish organisations are faced with a new situation due to the austerity measures on public R&D funding introduced by the Finnish government. Due to this, companies have even increased their own R&D budgets but at the same time are focusing on short-term R&D activities. This becomes evident from the latest CTO Survey. According to the respondents, there is pressure to get new products out onto the market. Around half of the organisations say they expect a positive result from new innovations already during the coming year. While there is pressure for ever faster R&D efforts, CTOs are concerned about how to keep the equilibrium between short-term and long-term R&D.

70 CTOs in Finland answered the CTO Survey with around half of the respondents were from large corporations, Among the respondents are 16 out of the 20 biggest R&D investors in Finland.

View the results of the 2016 CTO Survey

Finland's CTOs of the Year 2016 awarded: Antti Nivala, M-Files, and Ilari Kallio, Wärtsilä

Ilari Kallio, Vice President R&D from Wärtsilä and Antti Nivala, Founder and CTO from M-Files have been elected as the Finnish CTO of the Year 2016 awardees. The CTO of the Year title is awarded annually to a CTO who has had a positive impact on the growth and technology of the CTO’s company, acts as an inspiring leader, and has an active role in the society.

The award is a joint undertaking by Tekes and Spinverse. A high-profile jury, consisting of members of the Finnish technology industries, selects the awardees. This is the sixth time that CTO of the Year award is given out.

The jury decided to elect awardees from two categories: SMEs and large corporations. The role of a CTO is drastically different in SMEs in comparison to large corporations. This was the second time winners were chosen from two categories.

In the awardee election, the emphasis was put on radical innovations. “The winners are two people who have done a great contribution to their companies with radical product innovations. The companies are also demonstrating international growth,” the chairman of the jury, professor Yrjö Neuvo comments on the election. M-Files is an innovative software company designing document and information management solutions to corporations. M-Files products are based on efficient use of metadata. Wärtsilä is a corporation that delivers power solutions for the marine and energy markets. Wärtsilä has developed the world’s most energy-efficient engine: Wärtsilä 31 can be found in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Both M-Files and Wärtsilä try to solve problems of the modern age. “M-Files brings solutions for knowledge workers in their day-to-day struggle of keeping information organized, and Wärtsilä empowers the players in energy and marine industries with flexible and energy-efficient ship and power plant solutions. CTOs in all industries have an important role enabling their companies to renew themselves”, summarises professor Neuvo.

The renewer of information management

Antti Nivala has worked as the CTO of M-Files from 2013. Previously from 2005 to 2013, Nivala acted as the CEO of the company founded by him. Since then he has concentrated on the product development of the company as the CTO.  His work has made great progress as the M-Files information management software is currently used in thousands of companies all across the globe. M-Files is quickly growing to be the market leader in metadata-based information management. M-Files has received many acknowledgements for its superiority, one of the most prestigious distinctions being the Millennium Distinction awarded by the Technology Academy of Finland. World-leading market research organizations have praised M-Files’ software as a forerunner with unparalleled usability.

Antti Nivala has played a great role in the development of M-Files. Previously known as Motive Systems, M-Files ended up developing information management software when Nivala felt sufficient software for keeping the ceaseless flow of information did not exist. Nivala and his team decided to create a completely new system. Soon they found out that other companies are struggling with the same issues. As the result of a successful commercialization the M-Files software was created. Currently M-Files Corporation employs over 300 people. ”Programming and utilising technology to solve practical problems has always been very natural for me. It has been fantastic to see how our brilliant team has been building our company and our products to world fame,” comments Antti Nivala.

World’s most energy efficient engine

Ilari Kallio joined Wärtsilä in 2006, and from 2014 he has acted as the Vice President in R&D. As the chairman of CLIC Innovation Ltd. he has an important role in the Finnish R&D community. At Wärtsilä, or anywhere else, innovations aren’t born by sitting alone in a conference room, but in collaboration; Ilari Kallio has been described as an excellent networker and an active member of the R&D community.

With the support of Kallio, Wärtsilä has been able to stay on the top of the tide of megatrends, utilising digitalisation and cleantech. Wärtsilä engine control the markets. Wärtsilä’s competitiveness is also built on a strong portfolio of maintenance services. “Leading an R&D organization in a large corporation is a challenging task where you need to have a sound understanding in leading people and in the technology you are dealing with. The R&D activities are essential in a large corporation to sustain the competitiveness, and our R&D team deserves to be acknowledged,” says Ilari Kallio.

CTOs of the Year with jury and organiser representatives: Reijo Kangas, Tekes; Pekka Koponen, Spinverse; Antti Nivala, M-Files; Atte Palomäki on behalf of Ilari Kallio, Wärtsilä; Tarja Pääkkönen, member of the jury; Harri Kerminen, member of the jury

CTOs of the Year with jury and organiser representatives: Reijo Kangas, Tekes; Pekka Koponen, Spinverse; Antti Nivala, M-Files; Atte Palomäki on behalf of Ilari Kallio, Wärtsilä; Tarja Pääkkönen, member of the jury; Harri Kerminen, member of the jury

More information

Chairman of the CTO of the Year professor Yrjö Neuvo, tel. +358 400 740 300

Wärtsilä Oy                                                               M-Files Oy
Ilari Kallio                                                                    Antti Nivala
Vice President, R&D                                                  Founder, CTO                                 
+358 400 705050                                                      +358 40 556 0471

Sari Luhanka                                                              Sirpa Levola
Manager, Global Media Relations                          Communications and Marketing Manager                            
+358 50 3860 353                                                     +358 50 4040 734

Tekes                                                                           Spinverse
Reijo Kangas                                                               Pekka Koponen
Executive Director, Growth companies                  Founder, CEO                                       
+358 50 5577 892                                                      +358 40 545 0008

Who will be Finland's CTO of the Year 2016?

Finland's CTO of the Year 2016 will be awarded on the 16th of February in Helsinki. Who will be awarded? In 2015, Jussi Pyörre from Eniram Oy and Juha Inberg from Ponsse Plc were chosen as the recipients of the CTO of the Year 2015 award. The title, CTO of the Year, is awarded annually to highlight the importance of Chief Technology Officers to the future competitiveness of Finnish industries. The CTO of the Year is an inspiring team-builder and leader, adds significant value to the company through technology, and communicates the benefits of technology to all stakeholders in an understandable way.

The complete list of winners of Finland's CTO of the Year award

Nominate your candidate for the CTO of the Year 2016

The time to nominate your candidate for the CTO of the Year 2016 is now. The nomination period is open until the 15th of December 2015 at The CTO of the Year is an inspiring team-builder and leader, adds significant value to the company through technology, and communicates the benefits of technology to all stakeholders in an understandable way. You can nominate anyone who is responsible for their company’s technology in Finland. See the complete list of selection criteria.

The title of the CTO of the Year is awarded annually to highlight the importance of Chief Technology Officers to the future competitiveness of Finnish industries. The winner of the CTO of the Year 2016 award will be announced on the 16th of February 2016 in Helsinki.


The CTO of the Year 2015 award was given to Jussi Pyörre, Eniram Oy, and Juha Inberg, Ponsse Plc.

2015 CTO-Survey results out: Finnish CTOs plan for digitalisation

According to the annual CTO-Survey, Finnish technology companies are preparing for digitalisation. There is belief that digitalisation will create new business models and ways to accelerate the development of current business. New business is needed, as the survey results reveal a concern for public funding cutbacks and poor predictability of Finnish and EU legislators.

The CTO-survey scanned how prepared and interested companies are in digitalisation; industrial internet and IoT as sub-sections of digitalisation. According to the results, digitalisation is taken seriously, with four out of five(82%) reserving R&D resources for the development of characteristics, products or services to customers that digitalisation enables.
There is also a desire to utilize digitalisation in R&D -operations, for example in collecting and utilizing user-data in the planning of next generation products.

The biggest obstacles to digitalisation seems to be the lack of economic incentives and the lack of knowledge, as well as the immaturity of technologies.

The survey respondents represent the Finnish industry comprehensively: 39% of the respondents were from large corporations, even though there were respondents from companies of all sizes. There were respondents from all technology sectors, with 36% of the respondents from the electronics and ICT industry.

View the survey results.

The press release (in Finnish).