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© Uros Business | March 05, 2013

Finnish innovation is 'alive and kicking'

Finnish Uros is the creator of the “Goodspeed”-device, a sunshine story from the Nordic telecom industry, designed and manufactured in Finland.
When thinking of the Nordic telecom industry as of late, gloomy headlines come to mind. Nokia laying off and moving production. Sony Ericsson loosing market shares and ultimately becoming only Sony. But there are sunshine stories too.

A device called Goodspeed, is one of them.

The project started in 2011. Uros had gathered a lot of competence from the telecom market in Finland. Many of the company's staff have a background from Nokia. Today, the team is comprised of some 30 persons in Finland, and additional sales staff in European countries like England, Germany and Spain. The focus now is the international market.

Goodspeed is, in its nature, an international product. It is described as a 24/7 mobile hotspot that offers internet access at home and abroad with fixed prices. Inside the device, 10 sim cards can be placed.

- Our target group is people who are traveling a lot, both as business and casual travelers. Maybe 5 out of 100 need this product. But if you are traveling a lot, our product will help overcome the roaming fees, says Jerry Raatikainen, Vice President, Operations, Uros.

Except for the fact that the device can house that many sim cards, there are two unique circumstances surrounding this project that make it stand out from the crowd. One is the speed with which the project has come to life:

- I think we started work in August 2011. Already in October we contacted Aspocomp for a build up of the PCB. And the device hardware was ready in September 2012. So it took us roughly 12 months from the drawing board to a ready product, says Jerry Raatikainen.

The other quite unique feature of the Goodspeed-project is it's very Nordic nature.

Aspocomp supplying the PCBs

Sometimes you need a more local manufacturer. We wanted to show that this cooperation can exist in the Nordic region.
Finnish PCB manufacturer Aspocomp is manufacturing the PCBs for the Goodspeed device. Tero Päärni,Vice president sales from Aspocomp, explains:

- This is a very interesting project from our point of view; as a supplier to Uros. A lot of the companies in the Nordic region have moved production to low cost countries. So, when companies set up production today, they don’t always know where to start and who to contact. Luckily, Uros has a lot of experience here, as their staff has worked for Ericsson and Nokia. Of course, many of those large companies are used to working with big PCB suppliers. However, sometimes you need a more local manufacturer. We wanted to show that this cooperation can exist in the Nordic region.

All PCBs are currently produced in Oulu as Aspocomp and Uros are in fact located just across the street from each other. A local solution has been a key to the speed of the project, explains Jerry Raatikainen.

- That we are situated so close to Aspocomp has been very important for us. It is easy to have meetings and the lead times are short. I think we are lucky that this service still exists in Finland when so much has moved away.

Of course, with reaching a certain manufacturing volume, producing in a low cost country is more affordable. Aspocomp will handle the sourcing and makes sure that all of the PCBs are up to quality expectations. This cooperation goes for both Goodspeed and future, planned projects. Aspocomp will initially manufacture the lower volumes in Finland, and then handle the larger quantities from Asia.

Tero Päärni from Aspocomp also sees future possibilities for the electronics subcontractors in Finland with similar projects.

- In our customer base, we have recognized that especially OEM companies value time to market. And quality is even more important than before. I believe that most volume production will continue to be in Asia, but R&D and product development functions will have their share also here in Europe. We are hoping to see similar possibilities and similar projects as with Uros. In Finland we have had a lot of layoffs e.g. from Nokia, and new start-up companies have emerged. These new companies mean new work and new projects, some of them electronics related.

Sanmina taking care of the manufacturing process

Multinational EMS-provider Sanmina is responsible for the whole end-to-end process, including test development and tester maintenance work, material purchasing, the manufacturing of the device and deliveries. This takes place in Sanmina's facility in Haukipudas, in Finland.

- At Sanmina, we look for opportunities to partner with innovative technologies that often come from smaller and local companies, like Uros. The challenge is helping these companies to design and manufacture what is usually a highly complex product that meets local regulations. At Sanmina, we have the local expertise and global infrastructure necessary to support companies like Uros no matter how big or small the project, says Harri Nasanen, program manager at Sanmina.

- We’ve worked closely with the Uros management on past projects and because of this, they know Sanmina understands sophisticated design and manufacturing, and are aware of how a partnership with us would benefit the Goodspeed product. Uros wanted to have a “local” manufacturing partner and with a good European presence and a strong team in Finland. We met these requirements.

I cannot say if someone will be as big as Nokia was
The future for Uros and Finnish telecom industry
So, having launched the Goodspeed, where does Uros want to go from here?

- We are a startup now; up and running. We envision to have more products. For this purpose we have been planning so that financing for R&D is covered. Our goal is not to be a domestic player, but a truly global one, says Jerry Raatikainen at Uros.

However, even though the aim is international, Uros does not want to loose its Nordic soul.

- Once we started, we said that the project would be local. Here we had the resources available. It was our key word really, to be local. This applies for both the hardware and the software, all of the suppliers. Of course, for components that is difficult. But we are using the good resources available.

Where will that lead the Finnish telecom industry?

- I think that in the future, Finnish companies will be producing reference platforms, applications and software. In Tampere, Salo and Helsinki – where our suppliers are visiting – they say that there are a lot of good startups and ideas as well. Some will break through. But I cannot say if someone will be as big as Nokia was, says Jerry Raatikainen.

Image: © Evertiq

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