Spotlight on Dr Antti Vasara
Please tell us a little more about your background in consumer electronics.
I became a customer for consumer electronics when I bought my first electronic calculator back in 1973 – I was 8 or 9 years old at the time. I needed bit more formal education and work experience before I could join a consumer electronics company myself and that took until 2003 when I joined Nokia. That was such a fun time to be at Nokia as the first smartphones were being launched with software from Symbian. My first job was related to the licensing strategy, sales and marketing of Nokia’s own software assets. But the most exciting job was running the so-called ‘Eseries’ business line where we were making qwerty-keyboard phones like the Nokia E71 which were aimed at prosumers (professional consumers).
What role do you believe batteries have in the development of future consumer electronic devices?
What is the biggest complaint that people usually have with portable electronics? The battery doesn’t last! So far, all of the many innovations related to improving the functionality of the devices – like higher data rates with 3G and LTE – or improving the user interface (bigger screens) – have led to an increase in power consumption. Figuring out how to get more stored energy into the smallest and slimmest possible physical package – and doing it in a way that the package is super safe to use – is one of the ‘Holy Grails’. Everybody is keen to find a way to improve battery life. Developing batteries with higher capacity is a really important focus area for consumer electronics companies.
Is this what first attracted you to the potential for silicon anode technology for Li-ion batteries?
Yes, power management and energy performance was always one of the key headaches when making smartphones. Improving the battery life of consumer electronics will have a significant impact on the whole market. Nexeon can truly do something big and have a huge impact on society at large. It is really appealing for me to work in this area.
How would you describe the culture at Nexeon?
I have found the Company to maintain very high scientific, technical and ethical standards. There is an open atmosphere where things are debated and thought about, and a genuine wish to do a fantastic job. I have found the Company a really easy and welcoming place to fit into.
What makes Nexeon different to other larger businesses you have worked with?
Of course, an operation of this size acts and behaves differently to large multinational conglomerates, and it’s very good that it does! I would like to highlight that the Company has a long-term vision – there are clear goals that we want to achieve and we are not going to be put off nor distracted by any short-term issues. I think that is very refreshing compared with many modern day companies that are much more about chasing a short term prize.
What will success look like for Nexeon?
Nexeon has the potential to make anode materials that will be in use in tens of billions of products in a few years’ time.
How would you describe your approach to strategy development?
I think it is very situational, it depends on the type of question and the problem. I don’t have one cookie-cutter approach. However, the principles I always try to adhere to are that i) the ‘boundary conditions’, i.e. our assumptions and beliefs of what is true, must be tested and challenged, and ii) there needs to be external verification and a fact base that backs up our claims that we make in the strategy.