The role of matchmaking in the establishment of VXT Research Oy is embodied in the unlikely rendezvous of the co-founders - Vincent Kuo and Tapio Auvinen. Back in 2010, professor of structural mechanics Juha Paavola found computer science researcher Tapio Auvinen, to solve the challenges with core curriculum analysis, a technique used in educational design. This collaboration resulted in "STOPS", Software for Target Oriented Personal Syllabus. It enables transparency of important learning outcomes longitudinally through the student's curriculum and reveals the relevance of one course with respect to another. Unbeknownst to Paavola and Auvinen at the time, the seeds of this collaboration would yet to germinate and evolve.
A few years later, in the warm and late autumn of 2013, researcher Vincent Kuo arrived in Finland from his home in South Africa, after declining a construction management position in the Seychelles recently prior. Incidentally, his arrival was just in time for the Civil Engineering Department's recreational excursion in Nuuksio, where he had met and shared his first sauna experience with Paavola.
Kuo was finally introduced to Auvinen in 2015 by Paavola - the real matchmaker - and the two researchers developed a concept for semantic matchmaking applications derived from use cases in STOPS. For over a year, however, numerous funding applications were not successful. The turning point was TekesHack Design Contest in September 2016, which Kuo and Auvinen won with their semantic engine prototype based on the previous concept, but applied to a totally different problem. This eventually gained their contract with Tekes to develop TekesMatch. Things were changing fast.
TekesMatch as a perfect networking tool
“It was three years ago when we decided to tackle the problem of how to connect large companies and start-ups in a new, more intelligent way. We developed the idea further and decided to organize TekesHack Design Contest, an innovative and smart way to procure as a public authority. The procurement process itself has been experimental journey for us too, and I have to admit that we are really happy with its results – this team. TekesMatch, the semantic engine, is aiming to be a perfect networking tool by giving Tekes and Team Finland professionals superhuman powers and capabilities to help our customers by combining Augmented Intelligence of the machine learning algorithm with unique and rich Tekes databases. We are a bunch of really committed people with ambitious goals for this project”, tells Tuomo Suortti, senior adviser at Tekes and TekesMatch development project lead.
Tekes Match x-rays the whole Tekes innovation ecosystem, allowing hidden gems to be found. Knowledge exchange is the key, trying to help the innovative people thrive. In addition, it is the key performance indicator for the activity in the innovation ecosystems.
“The aim of Tekes is to develop the national innovation system to be globally one of the most attractive places for global talent, companies and investments. This is why the TekesMatch is so important for us”, adds Suortti.
“This whole project is very close to our hearts and we feel very privileged. The semantic matching feature will help the companies or people find the right information, contacts or best and most innovative partner networks, and this ultimately means increase in the Finnish GDP and innovation exports. We aim for nothing less than making Finland greater than ever”, exclaims Kuo amusingly.
TekesMatch project will run during 2017 and the newly founded company VXT Research Oy, co-founded by Kuo and Auvinen, is responsible for the algorithmic design and software development. Tekes owns the rights for the resulting TekesMatch software and algorithms, however, VXT Research Oy has the freedom to apply the arising fundamental technology in other clients' use-cases.
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