Saab is developing advanced defence technology in Tampere - Business Tampere Magazine

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Saab Technology Centre was established in Tampere because of good availability of talented engineers in the region. The centre has been growing as expected.

Saab Technology Centre Lab in Tampere
Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa

Saab Technology Centre (STC) in Tampere was inaugurated in January 2018. In two years the centre has recruited 25 employees, and counting. Most of the recruited employees come from the Tampere Region. Due to the availability of talents, it’s been a swift start.

– The industry is new for many employees that have joined Saab in Tampere, because their background is for example in Nokia or aerospace industries, says Pekka Halme, Project Office Manager at STC.

Saab chose to locate the STC in Tampere first and foremost because of the local expertise, especially around RF and microwave technologies – competences not too abundantly available anywhere in the world – and the region fulfilled its promises. Halme estimates that Saab has the good employer reputation that is needed to attract excellent applicants.

– Saab’s products are extremely high-tech, and engineers find that interesting. In addition, our employees’ networks spread the word and that often brings us more good candidates, says R&D Manager Jani Pelkonen.

Cutting-edge technology for electronic warfare

In Tampere, Saab is developing top sensor and electronic warfare technologies, utilising e.g. advanced microwave technology and signal processing software. Armed forces are increasingly using signals intelligence and jamming, simply to improve situational awareness while preventing others from doing the same.

STC in Tampere is part of the global product development of Saab, and sub-units and modules developed in Tampere will be integrated into larger systems. In the future, Tampere may have its own products that are made for Saab or possibly also for other customers. 

– We already have the capacity and the competences, all we need is a suitable niche to fill, Halme says.

The Finnish Navy’s Squadron 2020 project will boost the STC in Tampere. The Navy is replacing older vessels by modern corvettes, Saab delivers the combat system for them and the product development team will work in Tampere.

Saab Technology Centre Tampere
Pekka Halme & Jani Pelkonen. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa.

Startup spirit and new talents in Tampere

Halme and Pelkonen describe STC in Tampere as an organisation with startup spirit, eager to innovate and test new things. Even as a part of Saab product development, the Tampere centre is in many ways an independent unit. Digitalisation is renewing the defence industry anyway, and the Tampere centre has an opportunity to contribute the trend with its own agile methods.

– We also tend to think in terms of business and customer needs, because so many of us have a history in consumer product development. Things we did in Nokia at the time were excellent, and that experience is now widely used, says Halme.

– STC has come to stay in Tampere. While we grow, we hope to become a booster for the whole area, make our own products and cooperate with the various technology companies in the region, says Pelkonen. 

In the academic world, STC already has some grassroots collaboration with the Tampere University. Local students are welcomed to the centre for summer jobs, thesis works and to grow into the STC Tampere.

– We are looking for people interested especially in signal processing and RF technologies, or product development in general; men and women who really want to push their expertise to the limit, says Halme.

Aalto University is Saab’s research partner in Finland. The collaboration is an important factor in STC’s plans: in the next ten years 20 doctoral dissertations will be completed in the programme.

– We hope that the research projects will integrate those doctoral candidates into our product development. This is a truly unique opportunity for our unit, says Pelkonen.

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