PoDoCo offers an opportunity for risk-free recruitment

Gayathri Murukesan and Toni Luomaranta

PhDs Gayathri Murukesan and Toni Luomaranta, who joined Origin by Ocean through PoDoCo program, eliminate the problem of eutrophication in the world’s oceans by refining algae bio-raw material. Photo Mari Granström

Through PoDoCo program, companies and PhDs can find out if the collaboration takes off.

Origin by Ocean aims to remove blue-green algae from the Baltic Sea by processing it for industrial needs. Biorefinery is also capable of utilizing other invasive and farmed macroalgae species such as Fucus Vesiculosus and Sargassum. Finland’s first algae biorefinery is planned to start operating in 2025 and produce algae bio-raw material for the needs of the cosmetics, food, textile and packaging industries.

The startup has acquired experts for the development of its completely new kind of business fhrough PoDoCo program (Post Docs in Companies). Leading algae researcher Gayathri Murukesan started at the company through the PoDoCo program in 2021. The researcher familiar with the soul life of blue algae was found from the University of Turku.

“We noticed quickly how good the PoDoCo program is for companies, especially for startups like us, because it is quite risk-free. During the program, both sides get to know each other’s way of doing very closely. For those coming from the academy, it’s an opportunity to see how working in industry differs from the university world. During the year there is a possibility to learn the commercial side and industrial activities,” says Mari Granström, CEO of Origin by Ocean.

The more Origin by Ocean produces bio-raw material, the more nutrients are removed from the seas. However, the company also aims for a new kind of thinking in its entire business model, wanting it to be completely transparent and sustainable in terms of both environmental and sociological effects. This is the goal of the company’s second PoDoCo cooperation, executed with Toni Luomaranta, who has done his doctoral research on production economics at Tampere University.

Over 200 PhDs and companies have cooperated

“The PoDoCo program offers a soft recruitment channel for companies and PhDs. During PoDoCo, both sides see if the cooperation meets expectations. In addition to this, there’s time to experiment and see if the developing new business idea catches fire. “, says the leader of the PoDoCo program Dr. Seppo Tikkanen from DIMECC Ltd.

Already 212 PhDs have been cooperating with companies through the PoDoCo program since 2015. As a result of fully implemented PoDoCo projects, 90 percent of those who received the grant have been employed by the participating company.

Regardless of the industry, any company and any person who has recently completed a doctoral thesis or is about to defend it can participate in the program: www.podoco.fi.

The PoDoCo program is funded by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry, Svenska Kulturfonden, The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS) , Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion, KAUTE Foundation, Foundation for Economic Education, Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, and The Paulo Foundation, investing a total of approximately 800,000 euros every year, which enables over 20 full-year grants each year.

The PoDoCo® program’s autumn grant application round is open from 15 September to 31 October 2022.