Finnish success story shows how a marriage of scientists and businessmen can lead to projects worth millions

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Scientific research and discoveries are no longer the playground of geniuses working alone in laboratory corners. Today, scientists have the opportunity to collaborate with the business world – a successful example is the Finnish pharmaceutical company Nanoford Finland, which has grown to almost €600 million.

The results of a researcher’s work do not turn into brilliant business ideas on their own. This is where support structures come in, offering knowhow on the preparation of business plans, business management and marketing.

So, what’s stopping brilliant ideas and scientific discoveries from emerging out of the labs? The reason may be Nordic perfectionism: although an idea may be very good, it’s not advisable to present it to the public before an actual product has been created. However, the scientists who want to get to the point of creating a specific service or product often simply don’t know how to plan, develop and market a business. The establishment of a business requires resources.

Success story made possible by bringing together business and science

Helsinki Innovation Services (HIS) was set up ten years ago to connect researchers with the business world and make innovative discoveries accessible to all. Only through innovation is it possible to constantly improve society, standards of living, the medical system, etc.

Jari Strandman, CEO at HIS, specialises in the commercialisation of ideas and inventions. He has gained extensive experience in business development, partnering and bringing start-ups to the international market, both as an entrepreneur and board member in Finland, Canada and the UK. Jari’s strong international business experience is based on collaborations with large international technology corporations, such as Sisu and Partek Cargotec, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. Strandman is also known for co-founding numerous university-based start-ups both in Finland and abroad.

Jari believes it’s important to encourage members of the academic community to come forward with their ideas and make their inventions public. “Informing scientists about the existence of this service is an important part of our work. When scientists have an idea or a discovery, they come to us. We assess its relevance, i.e. whether or not the discovery has commercial value. We then help them draw up a business plan, provide support in developing their business and marketing their product or service. We also help them analyse the nature and size of the market,” he says, describing the process of how research becomes a successful business.

Value in hundreds of millions of euros

Jari points to Nanoform Finland oyj, a company established in 2015, as one of Finland’s most prominent international success stories. The company’s story began in 2008, when Professors Jouko Yliruusi and Edward Hæggström first combined their expertise in pharmaceutical technology and physics. This extraordinary collaboration gave rise to a novel particle engineering technology that transformed the entire pharmaceutical industry. The company’s nanotechnologies and services cover the development of everything from small molecule nanoparticles to large molecule biological substances.

To date, the company is listed on NASDAQ, employs 120 people and is valued at between €500 million and €600 million.

Approximately 20 percent of the ideas and inventions participating in HIS commercialisation projects reach the market. On average, two to five companies a year are being helped to find their feet. In the last five years, more than 30 inventions worth nearly €5 million have been sold or licensed before royalties are paid.

According to Jari, this is just the beginning: “The new Inno team at the University, HIS and Think Company will combine innovation and business cooperation services into a seamless whole that will help deliver more and more science-based innovation to society.”

HIS is currently running twenty commercialisation projects that receive funding from the Business Finland Research to Business Fund. It pays to invest in the marketing of ideas aimed at the university. Thus, the public money invested in basic research delivers additional benefits by creating inventions that change people’s daily lives and secure the future.

In cooperation with the news portal Geenius, the Norwegian embassy in Estonia and other Nordic embassies in the country, we launched a series of articles in which we shed light on the Nordic economies of the future and cooperation between Estonia and its Nordic neighbours. The articles can be found online at

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