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TUT Industry Professor Matti Sommarberg is right at home between industry and science

The newly appointed TUT Industry Professor Matti Sommarberg at TUT feels himself at home on the interfaces of industry and the university and in between disciplines. The grand old man of the mechanical engineering industry is now eagerly looking forward to entering the world of research.

Matti Sommarberg, who has made a long career at Cargotec and its businesses, started as TUT Industry Professor at Tampere University of Technology in the beginning of February. His tasks include the research and development of future-oriented strategic formation based on foresight and experimentation.

“This task is well in line with all of my industrial career. I’ve always been interested in what is behind the next corner. In strategic work, my focus is on what is unique, what is the significance of the individual in strategic thinking,” Sommarberg says.

Inspiration from different perspectives

Matti Sommarberg avows himself to be a passionate generalist who wants to understand the significance and impact of technology on the economy, society, and people at large.

Matti Sommarberg, 55

Key qualifications:
Master of Science in Economics, University of Tampere, 1985
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Tampere University of Technology, 1986
Doctor of Science in Technology, Tampere University of Technology, 2017

Managerial and executive positions at Cargotec and its businesses in Finland and abroad since 1985.

Lives in the centre of Tampere with his attorney wife who runs her own law firm there. The couple have two grown sons.

“In particular, I’m interested in how new things in the world emerge. The most important thing I have gained from my industrial career comes from having been able to work around the globe as well in a diversity of positions, being responsible for a company, for a business, and for various functions. This means that I know something of a great many things. For this reason, I deeply appreciate the top experts of different fields and disciplines, and I find it very easy to work with them,” he says.

Sommarberg’s dissertation on the impact of digitalization to machine-building industry, examined at the end of last year at TUT, drew him into the world of research.

Now Sommarberg is looking forward to cooperation with the other professors and researchers.

“A doctoral dissertation is a safer way to tackle midlife crisis than buying a motorcycle. On the other hand, while I might have become bored of the motorcycle already, the dissertation has opened up a door to the world of academic research – and changed the direction of my life at the same time. As a researcher I’m just a novice, but I am extremely excited about doing research with new colleagues and partners as well as with the network I have acquired over the last 30 years.”

Matti Sommarberg’s post at TUT is formally located within the Laboratory of Industrial and Information Management, but the boundaries of the units will not hold him.

“I have always moved across organisational boundaries, and I will continue to do so at TUT, across faculties and laboratories.  My learning process has always been largely based on discussions with people from different fields and disciplines, and I hope I have been able to give them some new thoughts, too. The best way to understand the world is to look at it from different perspectives. So don’t be alarmed if I come knocking on your office door.”

Ask and challenge

Sommarberg is very familiar with TUT, having completed one of his two Master’s degrees there, but also through his work as a member of the TUT Advisory Board. According to Sommarberg, the TUT strategy says it all: technology for the benefit of people.

“Technology enables many great things for humankind. This is why the idea behind Tampere3 is so unique, and BioMediTech, for instance, is a great example of good collaboration between different disciplines.”

During his time as a student at TUT, Sommarberg would love to attend guest lectures from various different disciplines. Now, looking at it from the other side of the desk, he is looking forward to plenty of cooperation with the students.

“I really want to share my working life experience, but I don’t want to tell the students how things should be done. I like being challenged. It is definitely OK to ask stupid questions! The world is changing, and young people bring about new ideas. They are not supposed to be like us, the dinosaurs of working life,” Sommarberg says, laughing.

TUT Industry Professor

TUT Industry Professors are important links for the University between the world of research and industry. There are currently three TUT Industry Professors at TUT: Matti Sommarberg, Tero Joronen and Jukka Pekkanen.

Broad networks bring about vision

In his career, Matti Sommarberg has always actively built networks, and in his role as TUT Industry Professor he will actively continue to do so. As one of his most important networks he mentions DIMECC Oy, the successor of FIMECC Oy, where Sommarberg acted as board member and chairman for several years.  Cargotec has had an active role in FIMECC, as has TUT.

“I believe that FIMECC achieved the essence of strategic research. It managed to combine the worlds of industry and research, small and large businesses, and to invest in research initiatives that were relevant to business. The merger with Digile into DIMECC has taken the combined network, in which TUT is a key actor, to the heart of digital transformation.”

In addition to his work, Sommarberg is a member of several boards and holds various positions of trust, such as the Honorary Consul of Poland in the Tampere region.

“Building scientific collaboration networks with Polish universities, for example, could work well with the role of honorary consul, which would be interesting, not only for the content of such collaboration, but also from the perspective of EU funding.”

News submitted by: Sanna Kähkönen
Keywords: education and studies, science and research, working at tut, about tut, tut industry professor