Marko Hakovirta, currently a faculty member at North Carolina State University, will become CEO at Helsinki Innovation Services by April.

Marko Hakovirta

Helsinki Innovation Services, the technology transfer arm of the University of Helsinki, has selected Marko Hakovirta to serve as its chief executive.

Hakovirta will take on his new role no later than April 1, 2024. He is currently a professor of sustainable business and bioeconomy at North Carolina State University (NCSU), which he joined in July 2016. Until July 2021, he also served as director of NCSU’s Department of Forest Biomaterials.

His appointment marks a return to Hakovirta’s alma mater, having completed his doctoral studies in physics at the university in 1996. Since then, his career stops have included senior vice-president of innovation and new business development at materials producer Stora Enso and group vice-president of technology, environment and quality at industrial machinery company Metso.

He was also director of and professor at the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering at Auburn University from 2012 to 2014, having been associate director of research at Georgia Tech’s Renewable Bioproducts Institute from 2011 to 2012.

At Helsinki Innovation Services, he will replace operations director Kajsa Kajander, who has served as interim chief executive since December 2022.

Marjo Berglund, chairman of Helsinki Innovation Services and chief financial officer of the University of Helsinki, said: “We are overjoyed to have Marko lead the commercialisation of research at the University of Helsinki and support the growth of technologies generated by research at the university into successful businesses.

“The innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem of the University of Helsinki is growing at an accelerating pace, and it will have an increasingly significant role in university operations in the future. Marko Hakovirta brings with him extensive experience in the establishment of an entrepreneurial culture in academic environments, as well as an understanding of business development and research-based innovation.”

Hakovirta added: “It’s great to get involved in developing innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialisation operations at my alma mater, the University of Helsinki, in collaboration with the entire innovation team. It’s inspiring to collaborate with both researchers and students, as well as with alumni and business partners, and to utilise my international experience and networks.”

Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).