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Our alumnus Seppo Orsila: Tampere-based company develops laser technology used worldwide in the treatment of cancer and eye diseases

Seppo Orsila
CEO Seppo Orsila co-founded Modulight, a company that develops laser technology, in 2000 together with his fellow researchers specialising in semiconductor physics. The early 2000s was a time of active internationalisation at the then Tampere University of Technology in Hervanta, Tampere. Over the years, Modulight has grown into one of the world’s leading developers of high-technology laser systems for medical applications. The company is located in the immediate vicinity of the Hervanta campus of Tampere University.

I received my master’s degree in technology from the former Tampere University of Technology (TUT) in 1999. I majored in physics. After graduation, I continued working as a researcher in the Optoelectronics and Semiconductor Physics groups at TUT,” reminisces Seppo Orsila.

According to Orsila, the early years of Modulight were marked by trial and error as the company tested different business models and developed its basic technology. 

“We were often on a knife’s edge. The company struggled as we tried out different models and directions. In 2014, I made the decision to leave Nokia, my previous employer, to focus on growing Modulight. We rethought our business strategy and shifted our focus to only selling and marketing our products to large-scale customers in the USA. We began to manufacture devices connected to our own cloud-based service and focused especially on the applications of laser technology in cancer treatment and ophthalmology.”

“Besides running Modulight, I occupied executive positions in financial management and sales at Nokia between 2006 and 2014. These past few years I have solely focused on developing Modulight.”

Multidisciplinary research creates new solutions

“I was born and bred in Tampere, and I guess you could say the same goes for Modulight, too. Semiconductor research was brought to Tampere by Professor Markus Pessa about 30 years ago. His hard work and broad network of contacts had a pivotal role in the development of the field and related technologies.”

“At Modulight, we develop laser applications especially for the treatment of cancer and eye diseases.”

Tampere has evolved into a major hub for laser research and technology globally.

“Tampere University has a long history of world-class research on laser and semiconductor technology. This research has helped to lay a strong scientific foundation for the development of medical laser applications, resulting in the widespread adoption of our technologies by leading research institutions and hospitals around the world,” Orsila says.

“Tampere University has made an excellent choice in setting its sights on bringing together unique combinations of scientific disciplines and supporting the development of applied expertise. My own field also requires a multidisciplinary approach and combines, among other things, molecular biology, software engineering, medicine, physics, usability studies, electronics, semiconductor physics and optics,” Orsila lists.

Choose a field of study you are passionate about

“To young people considering their future field of study, I would say that the best way forward is to study something that you are genuinely interested in.” 

“At the end of the day, your degree or field of study will not affect your future career choices as much as may generally be expected. You may find career opportunities in unexpected places as you gain more experience and develop your expertise.”

“A degree is a starting point, and in this era of continuous learning it is important to expand your knowledge and skills throughout your career,” Seppo Orsila says.

Being the CEO of a company with a strong international focus and consequently a frequent business traveller, the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed Orsila’s workdays.

“I have travelled very little in the past 18 months, but this is bound to change after the travel restrictions have been fully lifted.”

Orsila often commutes from his home in Ylöjärvi to his workplace in Hervanta with an electric bike and is an avid winter sports fan.

“While I support local hockey in the role of a sponsor, I myself prefer to go cross-country skiing and downhill skiing in the winter.” 

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Photo Modulight Oy
Text Minna Puntila