Founder of a research based company receives the Alumnus of the Year 2014 award
Dean of the school Risto Nieminen presented the award in the yearly Research Day event. The Alumnus of the Year was selected on the basis of groundbreaking or exceptional research work and societal impact. Thus, a new tradition for the technical area was launched.
Rob Blaauwgeers was awarded his doctoral degree from the under supervision of Professor Krusius at the Helsinki University of Technology in 2002. He was later hired to work at the university's Low Temperature Laboratory (LTL), which is nowadays known as Aalto University's O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory.
His love of science led him to develop an entirely new breed of apparatus for use in research into low temperatures. The big breakthrough came during his post-doctoral research at the Lab, when he was building a device based on compressor technology. This saw an end to the production of helium-based research apparatus. The first of the next generation of refrigeration equipment was ready for use in the LTL by the summer of 2006.
Following on from this invention, Blaauwgeers established BlueFors Cryogenics in 2007. Today, the company is an internationally-successful growth enterprise. During the company's startup phase, Blaauwgeers invited fellow Dutch researcher, Pieter Vorselman, to join him. The entrepreneurs received seed funding thanks to their third-place finish in the Venture Cup competition. Nowadays, the company has 23 employees and a 30% market share in the sale of refrigerator systems to universities and research institutes. Thanks to the impressive feat of doubling its annual turnover from the previous year, BlueFors even made it onto the Teknologiakasvajat 2014 (Technology Developers) list.
Blaauwgeers has maintained a strong connection with Aalto University's O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory, and has even employed several of the lab's researchers in product development positions. Low Temperature Laboratory is also one of BlueFors' customers.
Dean Risto Nieminen
Aalto University School of Science