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Matti Alahuhta, CEO of KONE Corporation and a heavyweight of the Finnish business world, was involved in making the decision on Himanen’s report in 2005.The Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation funded Himanen’s project with 550,000 euro.

PHILOSOPHER Pekka Himanen’s clients do not only include political decision-makers; the elite of the business sector have also commissioned research work from him.

Matti Alahuhta, CEO of KONE Corporation and a heavyweight of the Finnish business world, stands behind the decision he was involved in making in 2005, when the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation granted 550,000 euro to Himanen through the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT.

Himanen produced a 160-page report worth over half a million euro, in which he concluded, for example, that Finland could not base its competitive advantage on the price of labour but should rely on innovations. Alahuhta says that the results “provided a strong vision for the promotion of an innovative operating environment beneficial to the field.”

Himanen’s report caused uproar

• The journal Talouselämä reported last autumn that the Prime Minister’s office commissioned a 700,000-euro study from Pekka Himanen’s company Sofos Oy, bypassing the tender procedure.

• Analysing Finland’s future, the research project led by Himanen and Professor Manuel Castells is part of the government’s Foresight Report.

• The story got new wind in its sails when the online publication Long Play stated that Himanen lacked academic credentials.

• Himanen’s project was funded by Tekes, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the Academy of Finland.

• The Chancellor of Justice has received at least five complaints on the matter, all of which it will look into.

• Some of the complaints concern the legitimacy of the commissioning process and compliance with all relevant regulations.

“The publication released in 2007 was just one result to come out of the project. During this five-year project, Himanen reported several times to the Foundation Board on the work progress and new research results,” Alahuhta said. Alahuhta was the chair of the Foundation Board at the time.

Alahuhta did not, however, detail the research results or expand on how they benefited the Technology Industries of Finland.

The persons currently responsible for the Foundation’s funding decisions were not available for comment to STT on whether they were planning to use Himanen’s services in the future.

Professor Pekka Himanen produced a 160-page report worth over half a million euro.Project more social involvement than research

The conclusions drawn by Himanen did not come as a surprise to the general public or to the project leader, Professor Martti Mäntylä, who, according to Alahuhta, was in charge of the content of the study.

“As the project leader, I carry the responsibility for it. Pekka’s work had more to do with social involvement than research. In hindsight, one can wonder if this was the best way to do it. I doubt Pekka has had much of an impact, either positive or negative, on the technology industries,” Mäntylä says.

Himanen seems to have risen to the position of the Finnish business and political elite’s favourite researcher. Even before being financed by the Technology Industries of Finland, he had received research funding amounting to 340,000 euro from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, Tekes, granted through HIIT. Mäntylä, who was also the leader of this earlier study, says that even though most of the money went to Himanen, there were other researchers involved in this project, such as Manuel Castells, specialist in sociology.

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MIKKO NIEMELÄ – STT
NIINA WOOLLEY – HT
LEHTIKUVA / MIKKO STIG / KIMMO MÄNTYLÄ

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