The winners of the CTO of the Year 2020 in Finland are Jani Vilenius of Sandvik and Aki Mäkivirta of Genelec

This year, the jury consisting of leading Finnish technology influencers chose Sandvik’s Director for Research and Technology Development Jani Vilenius and Genelec R&D Director Aki Mäkivirta as the winners in the CTOs of the Year 2020 Awards. The award went to those technology leaders who had contributed to their company’s growth or innovativeness over the past year with their impressive work.

The CTO of the Year Awards are given by Spinverse together with Technology Industries of Finland and Business Finland to highlight the importance of Chief Technology Officers’ work on the future competitiveness of Finnish industries. The awards were published and given on 2nd of April 2020 at the CTO Forum, an event which this year was themed around sustainable and smart manufacturing.

The jury’s chairperson Nina Kopola from Business Finland said: “Technology plays a key role in the creation of sustainable future. The growth stories for both companies are exemplary, and the awarded directors represent top expertise in sustainable technologies and show an innovative way of doing things.”  

Mining industry ecosystem lead by Sandvik brings in new business

Jani Vilenius (DSc), Director for Research and Technology Development at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technologies was awarded in the large company category. He has implemented the digital transformation of the mining industry for the sustainable future. Among his various activities, he has been involved in the research initiatives of battery operated and autonomous devices and made the Tampere Test Mine facilities into an outstanding and prototype safe testing environment, benefiting both customers and stakeholders alike. He is also striving to make his industry attractive to the next generation by working with vocational schools and universities.

Jani Vilenius says: “I am taken aback by this recognition given on the technology R&D work and delighted to be part of the development of new technologies. Over the years, we have integrated various digital and autonomous features into the subterranean mining equipment and provided technical and electric transmission solutions that work safely also when underground. We strive to further support and develop the availability of competitive and new expertise throughout Finland.”

According to Vilenius, Sandvik’s own research centre and cooperation with universities and other partners strengthen the ecosystem the company has created. The ecosystem enhances the growth of leading digital, technical and electrification solutions to benefit other companies as well. Sandvik has an important role in increasing the usage of alternative carbon-neutral energy sources and in developing more environmentally sound and energy-efficient ways of production. The company is committed to follow the goals of United Nations sustainable development and take the necessary steps to create sustainable business. This is always taken into consideration in the R&D operations.

Principles of sustainable product development form the core of Genelec design philosophy

Aki Mäkivirta (DSc), the R&D Director at Genelec awarded in the SME category is one the most acknowledged expert of DPS sound reproduction system technology globally. He is known as multi-talented technology leader, a published researcher and a knowledgeable lecturer, who has greatly contributed to the global success of Genelec and to the innovations in his field of expertise. “R&D is the result of an individual’s work but teamwork, where everyone’s contribution counts. It is complemented by good connections to the academic research, which helps to transfer the latest know-how. I am so privileged to have been able to work in a company like Genelec, with the most talented experts in their field as my colleagues,” says Mäkivirta.

Genelec, a manufacturer of high-end and innovative loudspeakers and audio solutions has for over four decades consistently followed a path of sustainable development and environmental responsibility, bringing not only excellent sound quality but recycled materials, low energy consumption and long product lifespan central to its design philosophy. Over the years, their products have gained an established status among music producers and audio enthusiasts all over the world.

“Spinverse has had the privilege to award this recognition for 10 years already. During this period, the role of technology leaders in companies has gained an increasing amount of significance and it has become more diverse in introducing technologies to all areas of the company. The technology leaders play an important role in contributing to Finland’s goal to increase the R&D intensity by 4% of GDP,” says Pekka Koponen, the founder of Spinverse.

The runner-ups for the CTO of the Year Awards 2020 for large companies were Mats Sundell of Mirka and Hannu Mäntymaa of Wärtsilä, and in the SME category, nominations were given to Samuel Myllykangas of Blueprint Genetics and Jyri Öörni of Merus Power Dynamics Oy.

Read more (in Finnish) from Tekniikka&Talous

Additional information:

Secretary of the jury Pekka Koponen, tel. 040 545 0008

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology


Jani Vilenius

Aki Mäkivirta

Director Research and Technology Development


+358 40 152 7460

+358 50 553 5915


Business Finland

Teknologiateollisuus ry


Nina Kopola

Jaakko Hirvola

Pekka Koponen

Director General & CEO


Founder, Chairman

+358 29 505 5000

+358 400 633 751  

+358 40 545 0008


The CTO of the Year Award is handed out for the 10th 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 2020, the jury's chairperson is Nina Kopola from Business Finland. Other members of the jury are Jaakko Hirvola, Tomas Hedenborg, Jorma Turunen, Sauli Eloranta and Ilkka Varjos. 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 Business Finland, Technology Industries of Finland and Spinverse.