Editorial note: This post is part of a series of posts in collaboration with Lappeenranta University of Technology to promote their expertise and tools in commercialising research based innovations.
MeVEA Oy is definitely an interesting spinoff company from the Lappeenranta University of Technology. The company has spun off from the university based on innovative research done in the field of 3D simulation technologies. To be more specific, the technology is focused on industrial cranes and simulating new prototypes as well as training scenarios for crane operators. We talked to Heikki Handroos, currently a professor in machine automation at Lappeenranta University of Technology.
It all started in the early 2000s when the Lappeenranta University of Technology was conducting research in the field of simulation. Initially the research was focused on offline simulation, where the scenario simulated did not take into account user feedback. It was soon realised though that there is growing demand for so called realtime simulations where the user controls a device and results of that control are shown on screen. For clarification, the majority if not all of, the modern flight simulators on different gaming devices for example, are real time simulators.
After half a decade, there was a project for the Vocational College of Etelä-Kymenlaakso in Kotka, where the research team helped with a training simulator for dock cranes. This was the first time the research team put their knowledge to concrete use in the form of a finished product. Handroos was responsible for the project.
Encouraged by the results from the project in Kotka, MeVEA was founded in 2007 to commercialise the research. Back then the innovation was not protected by any specific IPR so the actual founding of the company with the talent was easy and quick. Altogether 7 people joined the company, Handroos and 6 other researchers.
Handroos told us that the team did not have any former business talent and thus in some senses were blinded by the requirements on that front by their expertise in engineering the solution.
Despite founding the company in 2007, actual operations began a couple of years later. The first customer was for Sandvik, an engineering group that works in tooling, materials technology, mining and construction.
Today, the company sells its products to Finland mainly. Some of its clients have taken the simulator overseas to their clients.
One of the reasons MeVEA was able to find product market fit early on with their simulation product, was because they worked with clients early on and through that learnt what the need in the industry was. The two main use cases even today for the product are 1) training crane operators on a simulator instead of a real machine and 2) testing prototypes in real time for R&D needs.
Due to the success of the company and its products, it has managed to finance itself through revenue completely.
MeVEA really is a case example company in many senses for universities looking to commercialise their research. It has managed to create a product that is in high demand in the markets and what is more important, in a very customer centric way. By reducing the time to market from research by working with clients already in the research phase the company has enabled itself to avoid external financing to get things going. It is always easier to raise financing for growth when you have the figures to back traction.
Below is a product showcase video of the MeVEA Full Mission Solution.