Rikumatti Levomäki's career review
Turku Science Park Ltd’s role will expand this summer from a developer of high expertise based business operations and selected key branches to a regional provider of business services that will serve all enterprises. What’s on Rikumatti Levomäki’s mind after nearly 15 years in managerial tasks of municipal business development services as he is leaving his current position?
The renewal of the Turku region business development services has been prepared for a couple of years. A significant step will be taken at the beginning of July when the operations of Turku Region Development Centre are merged into Turku Science Park Ltd. The new company will provide business development services to enterprises in all lines of business and all municipalities in the Turku region.
In conjunction with the changes the company will get a new CEO. Niko Kyynäräinen who has headed up the Turku Region Development Centre for the last few years will start as the new CEO at the beginning of July, replacing Rikumatti Levomäki who has managed Turku Science Park Ltd since May 2010.
“It was clear that when the organisations merge, the head of one of the organisations has to give way. When the Board of Directors decided to change the CEO, the past six years eventually felt like a natural period in that position. At some point I’ve both given and received all that’s possible for each organisation”, says Rikumatti Levomäki.
Challenges, renewal and successes
During Mr Levomäki’s period as the CEO, the company has faced both challenges and successes in acquiring funding, renewed the organisation model to serve better the goals, and conducted two rounds of co-operation negotiations.
The first co-operation negotiations resulted from the transfer of ownership of the Mauno Koivisto Centre and bio-laboratories to parties outside the company, while Turku Science Park Ltd focused on duties promoting the commercialisation of innovations and business development. The second round of co-operation negotiations had to be arranged when a break in the EU’s funding programmes caused a temporary fall in the company’s funding. In the new funding programme period Turku Science Park Ltd has nevertheless managed to complement and even increase its share of external project funding. At the same time, new employees were again hired to implement the projects.
“We have proceeded through projects in internationalisation. We have transferred from a tight model with branches in their own silos to a more generic way to implement projects. It’s not just a question of funding, but specifically the way to provide services to companies through projects.”
Co-operation between providers has increased
Mr Levomäki says that from the latter half of his six-year term he remembers joint working and shared visions becoming part of the operating culture. The co-operation between the public and “semi-public” providers in the area has developed in recent years.
“The future of the company and business development services is built on a new kind of operating model with which we are at the beginning of a long road. The direction is right, although challenges may arise due to localism and highlighting own agenda. At a shared table you have to consider, however, also things that are important to other parties. The views are not always similar, but you need to be able to find shared goals and aim at them by using the resources in the right way”, Mr Levomäki ponders.
He hopes that the current implementation of the measures agreed on in the innovation and business agreements will proceed favourably towards the jointly determined goals.
“Maybe this process is sometimes even slightly frightening. Small details may cause such problems that jeopardise the whole co-operation. It’s also important to remember that the public sector economy can’t be fixed with savings but through growth. The new organisation should have the permission and power to act, because it’s not just a tool of the municipalities, but works for the well-being of the whole region.”
Tampere, Vaasa and return home
Rikumatti Levomäki was born in Turku. Due to the lack of training for Master of Science in Technology in Turku he went to study in Tampere University of Technology in the mid-90s. Studies in technology landed him a job as a planner in the Centre for Maritime Studies at the University of Turku.
“A guidebook on waterborne traffic which I prepared in Tampere was also noted. I wrote it without a personal background in boating”, Mr Levomäki says and chuckles.
While working in Turku, he completed a second university degree. Mr Levomäki graduated as a Master of Science in Economics from the University of Vaasa in 2000. Soon he will complete his eMBA degree in the Turku School of Economics.
Mr Levomäki moved on from the University of Turku to the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, and then by coincidence to his first managing director’s post in Ukipolis Ltd.
“I was on a leave from the Regional Council of Southwest Finland and had started work in a consultant company in Espoo. As the job didn’t meet my expectations, I applied for the post of Managing Director of Ukipolis Ltd.”
Learning from Kari Koski
During the three years spent in Uusikaupunki, the Ukipolis organisation grew from two to eight people, largely due to Mr Levomäki’s expertise in project funding.
“When I started work there, the Director of Business Development in Uusikaupunki was Kari Koski, from whom I learned how much you can dedicate yourself to the well-being of businesses. You have to get close, work proactively, and react quickly and flexibly. Furthermore, there is no standard palette of services that can be listed on the website, but each case is different.”
In autumn 2004, Mr Levomäki moved on to work as the Director of the Development Centre of Salo Region. At that time, money was still flooding in and the new director was not expected to perform miracles. After the big merger of municipalities in the Salo region, Mr Levomäki started as Branch Director, Developmental and Industrial Affairs of the new City of Salo at the beginning of 2009.
“The first signs of Nokia’s big changes can afterwards be dated back to late 2007 and early 2008. Reducing the use of outsourced labour and the first test production line transferred to South Korea were still seen as variation related to normal business operations. The belief in the continuing of the base plant was strong, and people believed in everlasting growth.”
Personal networks are important
The post of CEO in Turku Science Park Ltd in 2010 added to Mr Levomäki’s work the university dimension which was largely missing in the preceding business development organisations. Turku Science Park Ltd operates in accordance with the Triple Helix concept, building co-operation networks between the universities that generate innovations and the companies that use them.
In other respects the three cities and regions have many things in common.
“In all of them, I saw similar challenges in the building and maintenance of inter-municipal co-operation. The importance of personal relations to co-operation is another common feature – both between public players and in building networks between companies.”
“You should by no means underestimate the fact that everything an organisation does is based on the know-how of its employees. Keeping the staff motivated is number one priority. The companies know us through our employees, and personal contacts act as keys to helping companies.”
An open mind regarding the future
Rikumatti Levomäki is starting his summer vacation at Midsummer, and the CEO’s work will end at the end of June. In his own words he will then be ”between jobs”, spend the summer at the cottage, and think about what to do when he grows up. He don’t yet know what it will be, but he’d like to continue working at business development and international relations.
“I believe that opportunities will arise in the Turku region, too, and at some point the pieces will click in place.”
In addition to spending time at the summer cottage, Mr Levomäki goes regularly to gym and plays floorball. His other hobbies include chess, and jogging, which he had a chance to do also on a trip to Pyongyang, North Korea this spring.
“I participated in the 10-kilometre run arranged in conjunction with the Pyongyang Marathon. The reports made by an Yle reporter on his visit in the country in May conveyed very similar impressions to mine.”
Mr Levomäki’s wife Mirva works as the CEO of Turun Seudun Puhdistamo Oy, and they have two children. Lauri has two years of school behind him, and Iiris will start school in the autumn. In the summer the family lives at their cottage in Merimasku, but the regular home is located in Uittamo district in Turku.
Text and photos: Riku Näsänen
Born in Turku in 1973
M.Sc. (Econ.), University of Vaasa 2000
M. Sc. (Tech), Tampere University of Technology 1996
Matriculation Examination, Kastun lukio 1992
2010–2016 Turku Science Park Ltd, CEO
2009–2010 City of Salo, Branch Director, Developmental and Industrial Affairs
2004–2008 Development Centre of Salo Region, Director
2002–2004 Ukipolis Ltd, Managing Director
9–12/2001 EDI Management Finland, Consultant
2000–2001 Regional Council of Southwest Finland, regional planning engineer
1997–2000 University of Turku, Centre for Maritime Studies, Senior Planner and head of research unit
1996–1997 Tampere University of Technology, researcher
Hobbies: chess, gym, jogging, swimming, floorball, reading, and summer cottage.
Family: Wife Mirva Levomäki, and children aged 8 and 7.