9.6. 2014 Kuukauden kasvo

Samu Vuorela – Project Coordinator and exercising farmer

The SensiLAB programme aims at refining the expertise found in Turku in the field of maritime technology in particular to be used in other lines of industry. Project Coordinator Samu Vuorela is the energetic leading man in this co-operation project between Turku Science Park Ltd and the Technology Research Center (TRC) unit of the University of Turku.

Samu Vuorela's face on the thermal camera of SensiLAB.

SensiLAB is a development platform and innovation service in which research institutes and companies co-operate to promote product development and financing. Located in the premises of Machine Technology Center Turku Ltd, SensiLAB offers testing premises and equipment for companies, including an efficient computing unit and other special equipment that facilitate the development of products and services. The available equipment includes materials machining tools, 3D printers, thermal cameras and other such instruments, the buying of which is usually not feasible or financially possible for manufacturing individual prototypes and product innovations.

In the innovation service, experts specialising in the use of technologies offer their help with questions on technology and finances. One of them is SensiLAB’s project Coordinator Samu Vuorela. He is responsible for the tasks related to the preparation of new product development projects.

“My working days mainly comprise of various meetings. Once a project has proceeded to the preparation phase I focus on writing applications”, Mr Vuorela says

“In this job it’s important to know the local players in the industry, so that you can find the right companies and identify suitable solutions for their needs. One has to keep in mind, however, that a research aspect has to be maintained in the activities of the university, although no basic research is conducted here in SensiLAB’s premises.”

Competition for project money has increased

There is a little over six months left of SensiLAB’s initial two-year project. So far, they have created an operating model, developed the laboratory work and set up co-operation networks. In the business network, co-operation has proceeded beyond negotiations with around 20 companies.

“As an example of co-operation with companies I could mention design agencies which can speed up their processes e.g. by utilising 3D scanning. We also have broad expertise in financing channels that promote the co-operation between research institutes and companies”, Mr Vuorela says.

According to Samu Vuorela, the competition for project preparation funds has in many cases become extremely tight. Traditional Tekes funding requires companies to provide a larger share of the funding by themselves, and increasing competition has resulted in considerably higher demands for project preparation.

“Direct company funding is challenging in the current situation, although we are moving towards better times. New forms of funding, such as strategic research grants from Tekes, are still somewhat unclear as funding instruments. In addition, the national INKA programme will add a new dimension to the field of public funding.”

The Toy Thursday concept is one form of activities that has been employed to make SensiLAB known to its stakeholders. The events are open to everyone, and SensiLAB has presented its services and especially the machines and equipment that companies can use in SensiLAB’s laboratory.

Studies, sports and music

Samu Vuorela is well under 30 years old, but has managed to do many different things. He graduated as Master of Science in Engineering from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science in the University of Turku, the degree programme in information technology, telecommunication and microelectronics. He is hoping to complete the studies of Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration within a year. He majors in information system science and management.

SensiLAB utilizes e.g. 3D printing.

Part of Mr Vuorela’s interest in machines and equipment is probably inherited. His paternal grandmother’s brother Aimo Pere was one of the Finnish pioneers of machine drawing. Although Samu was fascinated by technology since he was a child, studying technology was not self-evident for him.

“When I was younger I focused mainly on sports and information technology and tried to avoid studying. Music is also important to me. I have played the clarinet since comprehensive school and I completed my military service in the Navy Band in Pansio, Turku. Nowadays I mainly listen to music, as playing requires true enthusiasm as well as plenty of time and the right mind-set.”

Music never became a profession for Mr Vuorela, but right now it seems that he will not pursue a career in research, either.

“I’m slightly impatient by nature, and I hate waiting, I always prefer to do something. In my current job, which focuses on SensiLAB’s project preparation, I can make use of my strengths – persistence, flexibility and profit-orientation.”

“If I come across a pragmatic and interesting research subject I will surely have the persistence to engage in research.”

Farm work in Raisio

Any extra energy left after work Mr Vuorela spends at sports and on a farm in Raisio. For him, the farm acts as therapeutic counter-balance for demanding work.

“Even if the farming would not continue, I hope that the buildings will not be left empty. It’s possible that I end up living there one day. From the point of view of profitability of agriculture, it’s such a challenge that giving up my current job and focusing on farming would not be an easy decision.”

Working and farming nevertheless allow time for exercising.

“I still play a lot of tennis, and floorball in winter and football in summer. There are good facilities for different sports in Kupittaa, next to Turku Science Park, so after a day’s work I can go playing or to gym and sometimes I come back to work for a while”, Samu Vuorela says.


Samu Vuorela

  • Born in Raisio in 1987
  • Matriculation examination, Raision lukio upper secondary school 2006
  • Military service in the Navy Band
  • M.Sc. (Eng.), University of Turku 2012, studies for M.Sc. (Econ. & Bus.Adm.) degree
  • Works as the project Coordinator of the SensiLAB programme, operated by the Technology Research Center unit of the University of Turku and Turku Science Park Ltd