Veli-Pekka Leppänen, CEO of Nanocomp Ltd., has been selected as the University of Eastern Finland’s Alumnus of the Year. The award was presented to Leppänen in an alumni meeting held in Joensuu on 5 November. The Alumna/Alumnus of the Year award recognises and celebrates the achievements of the alumni of the University of Eastern Finland in their chosen fields.
“Being selected as the Alumnus of the Year came as a surprise, and I’m very honoured by it,” Leppänen says.
Leppänen is the CEO, a founding member and a shareholder in the Joensuu-based Nanocomp Ltd. Founded in 1997, the company has its roots in what at the time was known as the Department of Physics of the University of Joensuu.
“Veli-Pekka Leppänen has highlighted academic excellence in eastern Finland, and its potential in photonics, both nationally and internationally. He has, among other things, served on the Board of Photonics Finland, and been actively involved in the development of the field of photonics and, more broadly, the university, especially in the field of university-business collaboration and innovation activities. Nanocomp Ltd. is an academic start-up and a significant factor in the rise in photonics in the Joensuu region,” Rector Jukka Mönkkönen says.
Solid expertise and specialisation are Nanocomp's assets
Leppänen was born in Kangaslampi, Varkaus, and he started his studies in physics in 1991. In 1999, he defended his dissertation in physics on nature's own photosensitive proteins.
“Multidisciplinary research in physics, computer science, biology and chemistry was carried out already back then. I was responsible for optical measurements and modelling, and the outcome was a camera prototype made from nature’s own materials.”
“The basic studies in physics gave me not only a good basic understanding of physics, but also a good attitude and values. I also made friends during my time at the university, and we still keep in touch. In fact, we get together to cook four times a year.”
“My postgraduate studies involved more and different kinds of responsibilities and, together with the department’s professors, we built a foundation for what the company is doing today,” Leppänen says, looking back.
“Professor Timo Jääskeläinen has been an important figure at the university, and he has also been involved in our company’s operation. Currently, we employ seven PhDs who have graduated from the University of Eastern Finland, among others, and we also have interns from the university on a regular basis. We are constantly looking to expand our teams with people who have the right skills and the right attitude.”
Leppänen considers the university's activities to be important for the whole of eastern Finland both in terms of well-being and the economy.
“Nanocomp has been an international company right from the start, that is something that is inherent to us. We have the entire world as our playing field. Our high-tech company will thrive by relying on solid expertise, specialisation, and mastery of tools brought about by digitalisation,” Leppänen says.
“Our technology is based purely on photonics, the growth of which has been and will be significant. Photonics is already everywhere, and will be even more so in the future: for example, in online sensors and, as a result, in business and other applications.”
This was the ninth time the University of Eastern Finland presented the Alumnus/Alumna of the Year award. Previous recipients of the award include Medfiles CEO Tuija Keinonen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing Kimmo Tiilikainen, Nutritionist Hanna Partanen, Director General Tapio Kosunen, Secretary of State Sari Raassina, OAJ President Olli Luukkainen, Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia Kenneth Matengu and Minister of Transport Anu Vehviläinen.
For further information, please contact:
CEO Veli-Pekka Leppänen, tel. +358 400 127 680, veli-pekka.leppanen (a) nanocomp.fi
Rector Jukka Mönkkönen, tel. +358 29 445 8001, jukka.monkkonen (a) uef.fi