Meet the InnoLabbers: Teppo Heimo


Image: “It was really difficult to find a recent picture of me without my kids or other people in it! In any case, this is how you’ll usually find me these days: sitting at a virtual meeting.”

This series introduces the members of University of Vaasa’s InnoLab research platform. Today we’re meeting Teppo Heimo.

What are you?

I am a graduate from University of Vaasa master’s degree programme of Industrial Management. I did my master’s thesis on open innovation in biotech industry, as I have a prior master’s degree from the University of Turku Molecular biotechnology and diagnostics programme.

I live in Turku with my wife and two kids.

What is your title at InnoLab? Moreover, what do you even do?

I don’t know if I have a title, but I am working in InnoDigi project led by Khuram, where the SME-HEI collaboration, digital competence and co-competition is studied. As I live in Turku and because of the pandemic, the social life in the office has been non-existent. However, I am participating remotely as much as possible.

Yeah, it’s been a strange year or so. What keeps you going, professionally speaking?

I am fascinated by innovation and innovation management. I love being at the crossroads of academia and industry, and the academic work along with industry job offers a lot of new insight into both.

I bet! How did you end up where you are now?

Actually, I decided to have a second master’s degree already before finishing the first one, and University of Vaasa offered a great opportunity to pursue that while working. After finishing the second degree, I got an opportunity to participate in writing a book chapter called “How to Support Real-time Quantitative Big Data by More Future Orientated Qualitative Data for Understanding Everyday Innovative Businesses?” to a book Management in the Era of Big Data: Issues and Challenges along with Josu Takala and Sara Tilabi based on the results obtained in my thesis. As I mentioned earlier, I feel the most comfortable at the crossroads of academia and industry, and the InnoDigi project offers the best way to achieve this at the moment.

Imagine your phone rings. It’s the call you’ve been anticipating – what is it about?

Most probably I would assume that the call is a cold call from print media or electric company telemarketing, and they are trying to sell me a subscription or a contract. Not that I would hope that for any specific reason, but that’s probably the reality. Nevertheless, I would still answer the call and be either intrigued or disappointed depending on how the caller would present his or her agenda.

Just kidding, it’s actually a journalist. They’re finally doing a story on that one topic you’ve always wanted to give an interview on! What do you say?

I would have wished the call was from telemarketing! However, I would like to talk with them about innovation management and how it is leading us to a next era after the industrial revolution.

Good job. Too bad you can’t be the resident expert on every topic. What would you like to learn more about?

I am keen to learn more about open innovation and disruptive innovation and how to manage those in real-life settings. I think the world needs more hands-on tools for coping with and utilizing them in everyday business.

Sounds interesting. Is that something I, too, should be concerned about?

That really depends on which side of the disruption you are. They are changing the way we work and collaborate, and which companies can benefit financially from them. Still, ‘concerned’ can be too strong a word for that, so let’s put it as “scientifically interested”. And yes, you should!

Okay. Now recommend me something – anything!

Lately I have been reading a book called Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era by Matthew C. Le Merle and Alison Davis. It goes through the human existence from the hunter-gatherer era, explaining how new technologies have created a paradigm shift, and how companies today can tap innovations and be ready for the next era.

Any last advice for being both an effective researcher and a happy office worker?

The office worker is a pretty abstract concept nowadays, but I think in order to be effective in these exceptional times one really must be able to separate professional life and personal life from each other more effectively, as the boundaries of the two are now closer to each other than ever.

From the perspective of Teppo’s colleagues: What makes you appreciate him as a coworker?

“Teppo is a really innovative, hardworking and trusty team member. Besides that, he has become a promising scientist, too.”

“I can always rely on Teppo to do his part – and do it thoroughly.”

“Teppo is a true team member and a great professional who means business. His opinions and suggestions echo logic.”

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