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Young Researcher Entrepreneur 2014

Johanna Småros

Johanna Småros and her researcher colleagues founded RELEX Oy, a developer of automation supply chain management software that can reduce food spoilage by up to 40 percent.

The 2014 Young Researcher Entrepreneur is Ph.D. Johanna Småros. She is a logistics researcher who holds a doctorate from Aalto University is one of the founders of RELEX, the Logistics Company of the Year. Småros founded the company in 2005, together with two researcher colleagues. Today RELEX has grown and operates in four countries employing 75 people. The company’s demand prediction, inventory optimization, replenishment automation and supply chain analysis tools are used by, amongst others, Plantagen, Altia, Suomalainen Kirjakauppa as well as British drugstore Booths and German construction supplies company Kemmler Baustoffe.

Ten years ago, Johanna Småros, together with her logistics researcher colleagues Mikko Kärkkäinen and Michael Falck wrote a research paper and presented their ideas to improve the management of retail logistics.

“The problem was that the stores were not able to integrate our improved models to their systems,”says Småros.

The researcher trio solved the problem by founding RELEX, which commercialized their research ideas into software as a service product that is easy to connect to existing retail ERP and POS systems. The RELEX system ensures that the shop has the optimal amount of inventory, consumers get fresher products and the sales forecasts for seasonal and holiday demand are improved. For example, as a result of RELEX’s software, Stockmann’s Delicatessen reduced food wastage by an average of 40 percent.

“This is hugely important, not only economically but also ecologically, as the goods are no longer wasted and dumped in the trash,” says Småros.

Next: Germany and the United Kingdom

The fast-growing company is already the market leader for new deliveries in the Nordic countries. In the near future, RELEX Commission aims to achieve the same position in the much larger German and UK markets, Småros says.

Deloitte has listed RELEX as the fastest growing supplier of efficiency-enhancing supply chain management systems in the EMEA region. Due to its profitable growth, Kauppalehti has recognized RELEX as one of Finland’s top startups.

“We want to encourage other researchers to follow Johanna Småros’s example. These new businesses can be used to utilize significant research findings and create new jobs,” says KAUTE Foundation Advocate Jouni Lounasmaa.

The Young Researcher Entrepreneur prize in the amount of € 5,000 is awarded by the KAUTE Foundation and the Startup Foundation. The award was presented to Småros on Entrepreneurs’ Day September 5th, 2014.