This year, the jury consisting of leading technology influencers selected Juha Kytölä of Wärtsilä and Kuan Yen Tan of IQM Quantum Computers as the winners of the CTO of the Year 2023 Awards. The Innovation Professor of the Year Award was given to Mircea Guina of Tampere University.
Read the announcement in Finnish here.
The CTO of the Year Awards are given in cooperation by Technology Industries of Finland and innovation consulting company Spinverse. The Awards are meant to highlight the importance of Chief Technology Officers’ work, and that of the professors collaborating with companies, on the future competitiveness of Finnish industry. The awards were announced and handed out on the 21st of March 2023 at the CTO Forum. An event, which this year focused on skills and talent gap in Finland, had a keynote by the Permanent Secretary Anita Lehikoinen from the Ministry of Education and Culture and a panel discussion where Ismo Laukkanen of ABB, Julia Macharey of Valmet and Tero Ojanperä of Silo AI brought their viewpoints to the topic.
The jury’s chairperson, Technology Industries of Finland CEO Jaakko Hirvola commented on the winners: “The winners of the CTO of the Year and Innovation Professor of the Year and their respective organisations highlight the ability of the Finnish industry to renew and innovate. A stable and competitive RDI operating environment enables companies’ growth and investments into the future and future talents.”
Wärtsilä – leading the world towards emission-free shipping
In the large companies’ category, the CTO of the Year 2023 award was given to Juha Kytölä. He has had a long and distinguished career in Wärtsilä where he currently works as Director of R&D and Engineering in Wärtsilä Marine Power. During his career Kytölä has served the company globally in multiple positions from product development to various management-level positions. Previously in his career he has also been in charge of business operations as a CEO of Wärtsilä Finland.
Juha Kytölä comments: “This is a great acknowledgement for the research, technology and product development that we conduct in Wärtsilä. It is all about global teamwork and I’m so proud of having skilled and hard-working people and teams with me. Together we can create the path towards decarbonisation, at the seas and on land, everywhere in the world.”
Wärtsilä is a global leader in advanced technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. Wärtsilä’s strategy is to shape the decarbonization of marine and energy. Innovation, new technologies and product and system development are key enablers for that journey. Juha Kytölä has been an inspiring and experienced leader shaping and driving the company’s innovation, alternative fuel development and driving decarbonization of Wärtsilä offering portfolio towards the company’s officially announced carbon neutrality target by 2030. In 2021, Wärtsilä was granted Business Finland leading company project for Zero Emission Marine project. Kytölä has been a fundamental leader in setting up the programme.
Quantum computing enabling faster solutions for global challenges
Kuan Yen Tan, CTO and Co-founder of IQM Quantum Computers, was awarded the title of CTO of the Year 2023 in the SME category. IQM – a spinoff from Aalto University and VTT – builds on-premises quantum computers. Quantum computing has the potential to drastically increase the computing speed compared to traditional computers, thus helping the world to find solutions for complex problems from drug discovery to battery optimisation or climate change questions. IQM is a leading quantum computing company in Europe, and the only one delivering quantum systems with full access to its hardware. The company has fast become a crucial part of Europe’s quantum ecosystem and is already part of building quantum computers in Finland, Germany, France, and Spain.
As a Co-founder, Kuan Yen Tan has been part of IQM’s growth and development from the beginning. His peers describe him as a visionary who leads one of the world's most innovative bunch of engineers and scientists, to deliver world-changing innovation. His scientific work is also widely cited and used by researchers worldwide. His and IQM’s achievements in the recent years include the delivery of Finland’s first quantum computer, establishment of the first exclusive quantum processor fabrication facility in Europe, and creation of new product categories including quantum accelerators for HPC centre and on-premises quantum computers as products, to name a few.
The winner Kuan Yen Tan says: “I am incredibly proud of the impact we are making within the scientific community and also to the quantum industry. Throughout my career, it has always been my goal to try to improve and deliver my best every day, and this award is a recognition to the entire IQM team, dedicated to everyone who has supported me in my scientific career, and also to everyone who has believed in us. This award will further boost me to strive harder and build a world-class organization of the future.” He adds: “Of course, all these can only happen because we have a great and innovative ecosystem here in Finland, one that cultivates creative ideas into disruptive technologies that will make the world a better place.”
European impact in optoelectronics industry
The Innovation Professor of the Year 2023 Award was given to Mircea Guina, professor of Optoelectronics Technology at Tampere University. He is heading the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), which is one of the leading European academic research groups focused on the development of optoelectronic materials. The technology researched has been instrumental for the rise of the semiconductor laser industry in Finland and plays a major role in the advance of emerging photonics development platforms. Professor Guina has an outstanding career in photonics research and industry collaboration, making a Finnish technology impact rooted in university research, with a strong differentiation at European level. He is an internationally recognized researcher with a wide funding portfolio including the highly competitive European Research Council Advanced Grant.
The Innovation Professor of the Year 2023 Mircea Guina says: “I am extremely pleased to receive this recognition at an important turn-point for the entire semiconductor technology sector in Europe. The European Chips Act highlights the need for accelerated investments securing the access to semiconductor chips and technology sovereignty in key industrial sectors, such as automotive or communication. To this end, academic-industry collaboration is instrumental not only for innovation aspects, but also for ensuring the availability of highly skilled engineers required to run the semiconductor fabs of the future.”
Professor Guina has mentored several entrepreneurial teams and co-founded three deep tech spinoffs based on university research: Vexlum, Picophotonics and Reflekron, all located in Tampere, and exploiting innovation related to semiconductor technology. He has supervised more than 20 PhD students in optoelectronics, laser physics, or photovoltaics, many having high-level positions in technology companies in Finland. Concerning national-wide collaboration, he has been instrumental in creating new industry-academia co-innovation ecosystems, most recently in the area of photonics integration, advanced manufacturing for photonics, and photonics-enabled quantum technology.
The Award finalists showcase potential of Finnish technology knowledge base
Janne Lautanala of Fintraffic and Kaija Pehu-Lehtonen of Metsä Fibre were chosen as the finalists in the CTO of the Year 2023 Award in the large enterprise category. In the SME category, Urho Konttori of Varjo and Nikhil Pachhandara of Optofidelity were nominated as finalists. The finalists in the Innovation Professor of the Year 2023 were Ali Harlin of VTT and Janna Saarela of University of Helsinki, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland.
Read the announcement in Finnish here.
Secretary of the jury Pekka Koponen, firstname.lastname@example.org. 040 545 0008
The CTO of the Year Award is handed out for the 13th time this year. It is a recognition awarded to a chief technology officer who has improved the technologic competences and growth potential of their company or enterprise, is an inspiring leader, and an active participant in societal discussion. In 2023, the jury's chairman is Jaakko Hirvola from Technology Industries of Finland. Other members of the jury are Director-General Nina Kopola of Business Finland, board professional Malin Persson, and the CTOs of the Year 2022 Simo Säynevirta, Petteri Uusimaa and Jero Ahola. CTO Forum is a Finnish community of CTOs. It invites all innovation and technological officers of Finnish companies to network, discuss and share ideas between businesses. CTO Forum’s mission is to promote the work of CTOs and businesses. CTO Forum is organised and the award is handed out by Technology Industries of Finland and Spinverse.