PoDoCo Program Turns Art of Science to Science of Art

Multidisciplinary approach of sciences makes a difference when exploring and verifying works of art. The Finnish start-up company RECENART provides concrete and unbiased research about artworks by combining art history, physics, chemistry and mathematical information technology. Thanks to PoDoCo program, the company was able to add the latest hyperspectral imaging into the variety of its scientific methods.

Mikko Laitinen (PhD, Physics) was working as researcher in the Accelerator Laboratory at the University of Jyväskylä when he applied and was selected to the PoDoCo program, run by DIMECC. The grant was awarded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

During the year 2017 Mikko helped RECENART to acquire and install hyperspectral cameras as well as to adopt related analysis methods for the research of fine art. These next generation cameras allow imaging of underdrawnings, restorations and vanished texts in paintings and other artworks with the best available resolution.

During his grant year Mikko helped RECENART to introduce the next generation hyperspectral imaging to the analysis services of fine art.

“Hyperspectral cameras used by space and aerospace industries have proved to be very valuable in the scientific analysis of works of art. Authentic signatures discovered beneath the paint layers can help identify the original artist and add significant value to the artwork”, explains Mikko.

Grant year offered new insight

He says that working in RECENART is very interesting and reminds a lot of his research work at the university laboratory – he is currently continuing to work on both arenas.

“However, the positive challenge in the company is to work with specialists from other fields of expertise. At the university one can more easily refer to colleagues’ opinion in a specific task, since they have the same academic background”, Mikko tells.

“I have also learned that reaching the optimal result in business does not necessarily mean to explore as deep and far as possible. Often good result is good enough.”

RECENART has its roots in the University of Jyväskylä which still provides the company a valuable access to multidisciplinary expertise and advanced equipment at the faculties. As a matter of fact, Mikko got acquainted with RECENART during a university study in which they researched a thousand-year-old pots found in the shipwreck lying deep in the South China Sea.

Optimal arrangement for SMEs

For RECENART the PoDoCo project was very beneficial says CEO Tiina Koivulahti.

“We found a highly-skilled researcher to plan and implement our next generation hyperspectral imaging solution, and from administrative view point the arrangement was also very light, thanks to a smooth PoDoCo process. And to be honest, as a start-up we could not have afforded to hire such an expert to accomplish the task.”

“RECENART operates in attractive international markets and already today half of our customers are abroad, like many established art dealers in London. With the newest mobile hyperspectral imaging technology and our leading know-how, we can pursue further opportunities in the strongly emerging markets”, concludes Tiina.

Both Mikko and Tiina are convinced that combining academia and industry with the PoDoCo matchmaking program is very valuable also in non-conventional areas – like turning art of science to science of art.