Kai Saksela, the founder and CEO of NL Acoustics, a manufacturer of acoustic cameras, was chosen as the winner of the KAUTE Foundation’s Young Researcher Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 award. The second prize was awarded to Windi Muziasar, PhD in biotechnology and founder of Resistomap that helps prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The Young Researcher Entrepreneur is an award of 5 000 euros, awarded annually by the KAUTE Foundation to a person who has developed a new research-based business. This year, the jury decided to award a runner-up prize of 3 000 euros.
“The level of competition was very high this year. This year’s finalists show that entrepreneurship is an option for researchers in a wide range of fields. Entrepreneurship is an effective way to put research results into practice for the benefit of society as a whole, and with this award we want to encourage young researchers in particular to pursue an entrepreneurial career,” says Tuomas Olkku, Executive Director of the KAUTE Foundation.
Kai Saksela, co-founder of NL Acoustics, locates technical faults in industrial environments
Kai Saksela, the co-founder and CEO of NL Acoustics, was chosen as the winner of the first prize. The idea for the company came while Saksela was working as a consultant in the construction industry, where he realized the need for a cost-effective and easy-to-use product for locating technical faults in an industrial environment. His background as a construction consultant as well as an acoustics researcher helped Saksela devise a suitable solution to the problem. NL Acoustics’ acoustic cameras help users locate, identify and respond to faulty sounds in a noisy environment. The company currently employs about 40 people and is aiming for significant growth in the international market.
“Our company was not born from a single research result or idea, instead we have managed to apply our expertise in a new environment. I’ve always been interested to learn how things work and on the other hand, it is natural to me to question common practices. This has driven me to the world of research and is also beneficial in business,” says Saksela.
“NL Acoustics has succeeded in developing a technological innovation that can be used in completely new industrial applications. The company already has large global clients and it has all the prerequisites to grow into a major international player,” the jury says.
Resistomap, founded by Windi Muziasar, helps prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
The winner of the second prize is Windi Muziasari, PhD and founder of Resistomap, which provides researchers and authorities with laboratory and data analysis services to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria from, for example, wastewater, fertilizers and soil. Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat that causes hundreds of thousands of deaths a year globally. Combining microbial biotechnology research and data science, Resistomap helps its clients to identify the source of resistant bacteria and alleviate or even prevent disease outbreaks. According to the jury, Muziasari is a great example of an international expert who, after completing her postgraduate studies in Finland, has put her solution into practice through business. The solution offered by her company has potential for great impact on a global challenge.
“As a postdoc researcher at the University of Helsinki I became exposed to the local startup scene and biotechnology industry. The encouragement from my university supervisors and the startup community helped me realize that I can help combat antibiotic resistance through entrepreneurship,” says Muziasari.
The jury of the Young Researcher Entrepreneur Award included Mikael Pentikäinen, CEO of Suomen Yrittäjät (Finnish Entrepreneurs Association), Timo Saranpää, Chairman of Akavalaiset Yrittäjät (Entrepreneurs of Akava), Kunal Garg, the winner of Young Researcher Entrepreneur of 2018 and CTO of Tezted, and Tuomas Olkku, the Executive Director of the KAUTE Foundation that supports research in economics and technical sciences.
The awards will be awarded at the Science Start-up Day hosted by Business Finland on May 4th.