VTT's pioneer of printed electronics Harri Kopola wins Fellow Award at LOPEC 2018


​“If research institutes do not dare to aspire to original visions, then who?” asks Dr. Harri Kopola, who just took home the O-EA Fellow Award for lifetime achievement.

In the late 90’s Dr. Harri Kopola initiated research with only a vision of electronics on flexible substrates. Little did he know that the research would first lead to Printed intelligence spearhead program and then to a whole new industry called Printed Intelligence, a vast industrial ecosystem and a unique, tailor-made pilot factory and research center PrintoCent.

“Dr. Kopola has been instrumental in promoting the industrialization of printed electronics in Europe and the world”, declares the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association) jury in their award speech in Munich. OE-A’s annual competition promotes new visions and creative concepts in the area of organic and printed electronics.

“This process has been a once in a lifetime experience”, says Dr. Harri Kopola. “You need to accept that new enabling technologies like this demand a timeframe of 10 to 20 years.”

“If you play safe, you seldom develop anything original. We need smart specialization”, he adds. “It’s our advantage that we have deep understanding on a subject when it trends. Foresight and perseverance is needed.” Dr. Kopola would know: he led the PrintoCent project even through the 2008 recession.

Kopola’s life’s work, VTT’s technology excellence, PrintoCent unique roll-to-roll pilot factory and growing industrial ecosystem brings together research partners, technology start-ups and traditional industries to create new added value products and solutions for the digital world. PrintoCent community employs 450 specialists, is expected to create 1000 jobs in Finland by 2020 and has produced 26 spin-off companies.

Still, with all of this under his belt, Kopola’s message to us all is simple:

“It’s always best to show a demo to grasp the buyer’s attention. We do concrete things with common sense here.”

Kopola is going to retire later this year, but his life’s work will keep on growing.

Our vision beyond 2030

Collaboration throughout the manufacturing value chain will create new production methods, using e.g. robotics, 3D printing, and augmented reality to support human labour.