The COVID-19-situation has accelerated the need for renewing business operations and coming up with new innovations. The international graduate and doctoral students at universities are one of the keys to preparing for a period of economic growth. The University of Turku, Åbo Akademi and Turku Science Park Ltd. offer a new way for companies to get to know university talents.

Text by Janina Nieminen
Photos by Heidi Pelander

Turku is home to world-class research in fields such as diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, machine and materials technology and sustainable future technologies. In 2019 Southwest Finland had over 3000 international university students. Most of the international graduate students and doctoral candidates would like to find employment in Finland after graduation. The best case scenario in recruiting an international talent is that the company benefits from their top-quality expertise in a specific field and from the talent’s cultural and linguistic knowledge, which is crucial when moving into new markets.

– Companies have a need for an easy way to get to know international university talents. We provide this opportunity together with the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi through the UNICOM (Uniting Companies and International University Talents) project. A positive development is that a large number of companies have already expressed their interest in working more closely with doctoral candidates and post-docs, says Megumi Hayashi, Business Advisor at Turku Science Park Ltd.

Providing new ways of thinking and additional value for internationalisation

A number of companies are already utilizing the product development and engineering expertise found in among those graduting from the Turku region’s universities. One of these companies is Renotech Ltd., whose mission is to encourage companies to collaborate on promoting circular economy -based solutions. Renotech aims to expand its operations to international markets, which is one of the reasons for hiring Motolani Sakeye, who was born in Nigeria.

Bob Talling, the CEO of Renotech, has been working with recycled materials since 1980.

– It’s good to bring new ways of thinking and doing things into a company. Another reason for hiring an international talent is that we want to include people who can help us in the future as we expand our business to, for example, India or Africa. The process becomes a lot faster if there is a person who already has networks in the target country, says Bob Talling, CEO of Renotech Ltd.

Opportunities from outside the world of academia

Sakeye holds an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Åbo Akademi. Sakeye and Renotech got to know each other first through a couple of mutual research projects. The company was impressed with Sakeye’s expertise, and now he works at Renotech as a Product Development Engineer. Sakeye want to be involved with bringing Renotech’s solutions to other countries, especially to his native Nigeria, where he sees a lot of potential to improve waste management and reuse.

Collaboration between companies and institutions of higher education is sure to help international talents as well, as they are able to find new opportunities outside of the world of research. Increased understanding between companies and schools helps talents integrate better. It also has a positive effect when the institutes of higher education are attempting to attract new talents.

UNICOM is part of the larger regional Talent Boost programme, which helps companies with challenges relating to finding and recruiting international talents. Read more at

Janina Nieminen
Marketing Manager, Talent Turku