1970-2000 The largest separate unit

Research institute of biotechnology

The 1960s experienced the beginning of strong technological advances worldwide in the field of health care. The therapeutic procedures and diagnostics, especially imaging and laboratory analytics, became so multi-faceted and technical in nature that traditional medicine needed expertise in medical physics and technology alongside it. Hospitals started to create positions for physicists; the Tampere Central Hospital recruited its first one in 1967.

This topic sparked wider interest in the Pirkanmaa region and by the beginning of the autumn term in 1969 a co-operation project between the Tampere Central Hospital and the Tampere University of Technology was initiated in the field of applied electronics and bioelectronics, which over the years has developed into a significant collaboration. In addition to joint lectures, the Tampere Central Hospital provided the students with the opportunity to conduct exercises and special projects work under supervision in an actual environment, i.e. in a hospital. The problem was that the project attracted the interest of far more students than it was possible to accept.

It was stated during discussions related to biotechnology that there was in fact a wider interest in the Pirkanmaa region towards this field, so a decision was made to set up the Foundation of Biotechnology (later known as the Health Care Technical Foundation) to support and promote this area. This plan materialized at the beginning of the year 1970. Things took a rapid turn for the better and by the end of the year the Institute of Biotechnology (the research institute of Biotechnology) was founded. Dr. Boris Segerstråhl, who held a doctorate degree in technology,  was appointed the first director of the institute.

A tight schedule and the fact that there were over ten eager researchers who showed up immediately led to a significant problem due to lack of space. Little by little research objects and commissions started to be found at the national level. More space was needed for both researchers and their equipment.

The Federation of Municipalities of the Central Hospital District of that time had acquired the Pikonlinna Hospital for its use in 1968 in order to solve its space-related problems. The property as such was not well-suited for the central hospital’s demands, so an extensive renovation programme was undertaken. It was to be carried out in stages, which meant that the project would extend far to the 1970s. In this situation the Federation of Municipalities showed its flexibility and ability to adjust and appropriated vacant space on the third and fourth floors of the hospital’s C wing, so called dormitory section, for use by the biotechnology students. “The lease” was to be valid until the time when renovations could begin in the C Wing  (it was completed in 1976).

Pikonlinna offered local biotechnology students unique opportunities for development. The facilities were located in the hospital building, which meant that medical expertise and knowhow were literally at arms length. The hospital property with jogging trails, tennis courts and swimming places provided excellent opportunities for relaxation in the midst of a heavy workload.

This concept developed into a success story, which resulted in an emergence of a group of young researchers who achieved academic excellence and created innovations for further development.  Noteworthy examples are imaging machines for radiology (Valmet Oy/ Instrument factory) and monitoring equipment for intensive care (Olli-tuote Oy).VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland became so interested in this topic that it founded the Laboratory of Medical Technology in Tampere. Thus a complex was born which sparked interest both in Finland and abroad.

Over the years the products merged into bigger entities as did the communities which had put these issues forward.