First professors of practice bring University of Vaasa strong expertise in entrepreneurship, innovations and cooperatives

University of Vaasa has appointed its first professors of practice: Glenn Edens, professor of practice in industrial management; Eero Lehti, professor of practice in entrepreneurship; and Sami Karhu, professor of practice in cooperatives.

The new professors will bring the University of Vaasa expertise in their fields, benefits for teaching and research, important networks and, among other things, insights into how to improve the university’s interaction and impact.

A professor of practice is expected to hold a doctorate or to have a record of outstanding achievements outside the university as well as experience in managing organisations in the private or public sector. High-level international influencers to society may also be appointed to the position. The position of professor of practice is temporary and filled by invitation. 

Expertise in commercialising innovation 

Glenn Edens, professor of practice in industrial management at the School of Technology and Innovations, has a long and diverse career, for example as a researcher, start-up entrepreneur, venture capitalist and strategic consultant for growth companies. 

At the beginning of his career, he worked in research and product development management positions in several major international IT companies, including Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, AT&T and PARC (Xerox). As an entrepreneur, he founded seven start-ups and was a partner in Grid Systems Corporation, the first company in the world to patent a laptop computer in 1982. 

Edens has held managerial positions in several venture capital firms that finance growth companies and worked as a strategic consultant. In recent years, Edens has been a professor of practice at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which is a part of Arizona State University. 

At the University of Vaasa, Edens’ area of expertise in industrial management will be transformation design, which focuses on disruptive innovations. He will also teach a course on the subject together with Associate Professor Jouni K. Juntunen. In addition to teaching master's degree and doctoral students, Edens will also promote research and international networking related to these topics. 

My focus is on innovation, where ideas are turned into commercial products and services, says Edens. 

According to Edens, the commercialisation of innovation is a step-by-step process that takes into account many factors, including the growth company’s products, customers, competitors and economic cycles. 

My view on innovation is broad. I can share my expertise in areas such as raising finance for growth companies, negotiating with investors and getting new ideas through the ranks in large companies.

Long-time entrepreneur and investor 

Kauppaneuvos (Finnish honorary title) Eero Lehti is a professor of practice in entrepreneurship at the School of Marketing and Communication. He founded Taloustutkimus Oy at the age of 26 and, over the decades, built Suomen Lehtiyhtymä into a newspaper company with more than 600 employees, which he sold to Keskisuomalainen media company in 2013. 

Lehti also served for more than five decades in leading positions in local politics in Kerava and as a Member of Parliament for the National Coalition Party from 2007 to 2019. His other positions of trust have included the chairmanship of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, membership of the European Economic and Social Committee, and chairmanship of the board of the Fennia insurance company. Lehti also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Vaasa. 

As a professor of practice, Lehti wants to provide students with perspectives on entrepreneurship and long-term investing that will help them succeed and avoid mistakes. 

I teach things that are not in the degree requirements. However, I know from my own experience that entrepreneurs need them in their careers. For example, long-term networking and negotiating skills are needed. The ability to collaborate is incredibly important in a modern work community, says Lehti.

Solid experience in the cooperative movement 

Sami Karhu, who has had a long career in the Finnish cooperative movement, has been appointed professor of practice in cooperatives at the School of Marketing and Communication. For 27 years, he has worked at the Pellervo Coop Center in various positions, such as a researcher, head of information and organisation, director of cooperatives, and CEO of Pellervo from 2012 to 2022. 

At the University of Vaasa, Karhu will focus on teaching, research and development related to cooperative entrepreneurship. Collaboration with universities is something he is familiar with from Pellervo. 

Collaboration between cooperative businesses and universities has proven to be very fruitful. Cooperatives need the intellectual capacity that universities have. After all, the whole business model was originally brought to Finland by the academia.

Karhu will bring the university broad knowledge of the cooperative business model, its history, and its present and future possibilities, be they related to consumer, producer, entrepreneur or employee cooperatives. 

I have extensive contacts on the cooperative business scene. I believe that I have an understanding of the mindsets and the needs that prevail there. I also know most of the cooperative researchers.

The University of Vaasa has received support for its fundraising campaign from cooperatives in Ostrobothnia, South Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia, and some have also supported the professorship of practice in cooperatives directly. The university has received support in various forms from, among others, the South Ostrobothnia Cooperative, LähiTapiola South Ostrobothnia, LähiTapiola Ostrobothnia, Cooperative KPO as well as the cooperative banks of South and Central Ostrobothnia and Ostrobothnia. 


Further information

Eero Lehti
Sami Karhu
Glenn Edens

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