MDI Team

Marjo Alaviitala, M.A.

Specialist 050 329 4015

Marjo is a communications professional with expertise in organisational communication and a deep knowledge of modern Finnish language and pedagogy. In addition to overseeing MDI’s own communication tasks she eagerly participates in various projects, workshops and innovation camps. Co-operation with others inspires her and she enjoys writing and editing texts with a linguistic touch. Marjo loves to spend time with her two dogs, continues to develop herself through study and loves to play bass guitar.

Janne Antikainen, Lic.Phil. (Human Geography)

Design Director, Partner, Chairman +358 40 764 1829

Janne is a visionary human geographer who has researched, designed, and implemented national and local development policies for nearly two decades. Experiences gained from his time at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy have cultivated him into a far-sighted pioneer who applauds boldness and pattern-breaking approaches in regional development practices. Recently, Janne has specifically promoted the revamping of national governance policies, economic growth at the municipal level and strategic management. Janne is a charismatic public speaker who inspires his audience to think about solving problems in new ways.

Rasmus Aro, B.SOC.SC.

Specialist 040 187 1027

Rasmus has a Master’s degree in Political Science. For his major he studied social politics. His expertise and interests, regional competitiveness, vitality and demographic development are particularly relevant to regional development; regional competitiveness. Rasmus has worked with the same topics throughout his studies. More broadly, he is interested in almost all social and political phenomena, using a considerable part of his free time to explore different topics of interest. His hobbies include traveling and planning future trips.

Timo Aro, D.Soc.Sc.

Specialist +358 45 657 7890

Timo is a researcher whose expertise lies in regional development and demographics. He has actively engaged with the issues in developing Finland’s larger urban areas and regional structural change, as well as undertaking economic vitality analyses and municipal structure examinations. When he is not passionately rooting for Pori’s local ice hockey team, Timo is the ‘go-to guy’ when you need to know about Finland’s migration flows.

Susanna Haanpää, M.Sc. (Planning Geography)

Specialist +358 40 936 8863

Susanna is a planning geographer with an interest and great expertise in GIS analysis. Her energetic and productive outlook also allows her to utilise here graphical skills in the manipulation of various data visualisation techniques. Her previous studies in the visual arts enables her to produce beautiful maps and documents with great visual clarity. Susanna also enjoys working on a broad range of projects and seeing their final results.

Benjamin Heikkinen, M.Sc. (Admin.)

Specialist +358 40 410 9310

Benjamin holds a Master's degree in Administration and has a deep knowledge of rural development. As a calm person who easily bursts into laughter, Benjamin has mastered a wide array of evaluation methods as well as the secrets of network analysis. Benjamin has for example studied networks in place-based regional development. In addition to regional development, Benjamin has a previous track-record of and work experience in administrative and development tasks at both the government and city levels. In his free time, Benjamin enjoys spending time close to nature and attending cultural events.

Jaakko Huttunen, M.Sc. (Planning Geography)

Specialist +358 44 970 7798

Jaakko describes himself as an easy-going, but curious regional and urban developer. Jaakko’s primary interests consist of strategy and future-related development tasks, such as focusing on housing, land use planning and urban culture development. Jaakko graduated from the University of Helsinki with a M.Sc., in Planning Geography. Before joining MDI, he worked as a project coordinator in Kuuma-region, as a trainee in the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, as a specialist for the city of Vantaa and as a Smart City concept developer for Demola Tampere. Outside of working hours Jaakko enjoys consuming football in different ways as well as playing other sports. He also enjoys cooking, watching documentaries and travelling.

Jouko Järnefelt, M.Sc. (Geo)

Specialist 050 373 3638

Jouko is a something of a mix between urban planner and a data-analyst, with a skillset varying from strategic planning and GIS to big data and predictive analytics. When Jouko is not looking for better solutions from data, he is ambitiously helping organisations on questions regarding strategic area planning, smart cities, digitisation, data management and knowledge management. If you get lost in complexity, visionary and visually talented Jouko will help you find the way out.

Aleksi Koivisto, M.SC. (ADMIN.)

Specialist 040 686 2604

Aleksi is a social scientist who has worked in youth organisations, in a training company and previously also as a project manager. He has recently taken a keen interest, in various forms, in Finland’s ongoing social- and healthcare reform.. In his final thesis he studied the democratic legitimacy of the new regional level. His heart beats to a regional policy and rural development beat. Outside working hours, he travels and bakes pies.

Anssi Kumpula

Anssi Kumpula, B.Sc. (Econ.)

Graphic Designer +358 50 357 9252

Anssi is a skilled and precise graphic designer who devours each project like it was his last meal. Anssi designs our MDI Newsletters, brochures, handbooks and final reports. His magic touch invites people to pick up our project outputs and guides the readers’ attention towards their contents. Straightforward visual appearances and artwork help highlight the key messages in each piece of work. Anssi also enjoys capturing genuine moments as an event photographer. Anssi has a cheerful and mesmerizing personality, but deep down, he’s also a speed-loving and cool-headed race driver.

Valtteri Laasonen, M.Sc. (Geo)

Specialist, Partner +358 50 533 0604

Valtteri is a multitalented planning geographer whose expertise is related to knowledge-based and networked public administration development. He has undertaken dozens of public sector interactive development evaluations and research projects on national and regional policies and development programmes with the resilience of an endurance athlete. As an excitable and knowledge-thirsty ‘doer’, Valtteri especially enjoys supporting the economic, vitality and strategy work of municipalities and regions across Finland and is happy to analyse regional development data. He is currently preparing his doctoral thesis at Tampere University on the innovation policy of Finland and networked research, development and innovation activities related to bioeconomy.

Anna Laiho, M.SOC.SC.

Specialist 040 749 9758

Anna studied Social Policy and has extensive work experience in municipal consulting and market research. She specialises in creating surveys and undertaking demographic analyses on regional and municipal competitiveness. Anna is particularly interested in regional vitality and in the development of public services. Learning new things and personal development are close to Anna's heart. In her spare time, she likes to practice yoga, read and roam freely close to nature.

Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith, PhD, (POL.SC.) & International Relations

Development Director 050 513 4810

Kaisa is a political scientist with a doctorate from the University of Turku. Her mission in life is to work towards maintaining the high quality of Finnish administration and societal development. She has pursued this goal previously, for instance, as a researcher and consultant, as well as a science specialist at the Prime Minister's office and in her work with the renewal of public sector leadership culture and practice at The Finnish Innovation Fund (SITRA). Evidence-informed and experimental governance and decision-making and enabling experts, decision-makers and citizens to better interact are issues that are particularly close to her heart. In her free time, Kaisa enjoys cooking, air yoga and spending time with her two terriers, whose tenacity and joy of life she relies on as a constant source of inspiration. Her motto in life is ”to be the person my dogs already think I am”.

Samuli Manu, M.Soc.Sc. (Political Science)

Specialist +358 50 356 3980

Samuli is a freshly-graduated social scientist who has competence in a variety of qualitative research methods. Samuli enjoys digging deeply into different issues and phenomena. He is a keen follower of theoretical and philosophical perspectives on society and politics. He has had a diverse career progression path to date, working in the restaurant/hospitality sector and as a musician. His background in creative industries is always present in his thinking. In his spare time, Samuli is constantly balancing between decent citizenship and his rock’n’roll life-style.

Minna Mayer, D.Soc.Sc.

Specialist +358 40 709 6898

Minna has recently defended her doctoral dissertation. She has research experience in both academia and the public sector. Previous positions have included working in the Employment and Economic Development Centre of Uusimaa region, the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra. She has a broad knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. She has undertaken extensive research with large data sets and is particularly interested in developing statistical indicators and visualisation methods for big data. Minna has focused on solving complex societal challenges, in her dissertation has conducted research on public-private-partnerships in development cooperation. In addition to her research experience, she has also organised various types of events, from small workshops to large international events. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies.

Veera Mustonen, M.A.

Specialist 040 508 4022

Veera is a cognitive scientist who has extensive experience in innovation management and urban development. Prior joining MDI she worked as an Executive Director in a Living Lab at Tonsley innovation district in South Australia and before that as a Deputy CEO in Forum Virium Helsinki. There she launched a well-known smart city district Smart Kalasatama, Helsinki. For two decades Veera has been leading human centric development projects in areas of digital learning, smartphones and smart cities. She has expertise in agile collaborative methods, citizen participation and business development. During her leisure time, she carries out her doctoral studies at Aalto University and enjoys both rural and urban life and traveling with her family.

Iida Mäkelä, B. Soc. Sc.

Specialist 044 588 7040

Iida is a young economist close to graduating as a Master of Social Sciences in Economics. Her studies have helped her to develop a strong understanding of both the corporate and national economies. She has, in addition, also developed a particular interest in environmental economics and the dynamics of housing markets. Iida has a broad knowledge of statistical methods and software and has created several analyses, for example, in regional demographics, migration and vitality. Iida also a has natural ability to find and utilise data and then to analyse and transform it into a more accessible visual form. At work, calm and positive, she is passionate about multidimensional projects, polishing up details and working together as a team. In her spare time she enjoys good food and wine as well as all kinds of outdoor and indoor sports.

Juho Nyman, M.Sc. (Geo)

Specialist +358 50 321 8790

Juho is a Geographer who is used to working with challenging issues in impact evaluation. He has the ability to process extensive data sets whether they are statistical or qualitative. Juho is particularly interested in the Structural Funds Programme having written his Master's thesis on the application of the programme in Finland (2007-13). He has subsequently worked on numerous projects in this area. Juho is comfortable producing detailed analysis with sharp conclusions. He is also a fine Karaoke singer.

Sinikukka Pyykkönen, M.Sc. (Admin.), B.Sc. (Pol.Sc.)

Specialist +358 40 846 0846

Sinikukka is an administrative and social scientist with an in-depth knowledge of evaluation, innovation and issues in public administration. She has extensive experience of carrying out regional and rural development evaluations and projects. Sinikukka is especially fond of preparing, developing and sparring evaluation methods. Following time spent at the OECD, she is experienced in accessing a wide range of diverse data sources and gets excited about recognising and analysing broad societal phenomena. As a quick-witted person Sinikukka is at her best running projects that combine different views and in formatting recommendations. In her spare time, she enjoys urban nature, contemporary literature and the visual arts.

Sari Rannanpää, M.Phil.

Specialist +358 50 523 6872

Sari is an expert in rural development and programme evaluation. Her international education and work experience bring European know-how to Finland’s evaluation culture. Sari has worked on rural development policy in DG Agri, and she continues to develop and support evaluation of rural development policy in Europe. She is an efficient, hands-on consultant, who is fully proficient in evaluation methods and processes, logic frameworks and rural development programmes and their management. She is at her best when structuring large amounts of information into concise and prioritised summaries. Sari is an inspirational trainer and facilitator. She enjoys holding training sessions and planning and facilitating workshops, seminars and conferences with the help of participatory methods. Her special skill is to summarise concisely the main points of group discussions verbally and visually.

Tommi Ranta, D.Sc. (Econ. & BA)

Managing Director, Partner +358 40 588 2839

Tommi is an economist who has wandered off into the inspiring world of regional development. He loves numbers and has built his expertise through positions in the banking and university sectors, a regional development company, and, now, as an entrepreneur at MDI and Jakamo. Tommi did his PhD on networks and has worked for more than a decade with programme-based regional development, network management and innovation environment development. Tommi revels in challenging himself, successes, achieving visible results, and people who are passionate about their work.

Henrika Ruokonen, M.SC. (ADMIN.)

Specialist 040 848 5557

Henrika has a wide-ranging experience of regional development issues with a particular interest in leading with knowledge -issues. With her knowledge-based touch Henrika is able to grip the often-difficult issues of municipal and regional management in all, their complexity. Good analytical skills combined with illustrative and descriptive expression are Henrika’s strengths. In her previous positions she has been involved in innovation policy development projects, provincial strategy design and preparation work and in developing municipal management practices. In her spare time, she usually tries to relax by enjoying exercise, reading or finalising one of her many handicraft projects.

Kirsi Siltanen, M. Sc. (Admin)

Specialist 040 667 4678

Kirsi’s background is in regional studies and regional development policy. She is currently finishing her doctoral dissertation on regional innovation policy. She is also specialised in cultural policy and in the creative industries. Previously, Kirsi worked as a researcher, network coordinator and project manager in regional government reform. As a versatile specialist she enjoys multifaceted projects demanding a cross-sectoral perspective.

Ilppo Soininvaara, M.Sc.

Specialist +358 50 411 0980

Ilppo is a planning geographer who is currently carrying out his doctoral studies. Ilppo has focused on a wide range of political and societal themes but with a particular focus on urban topics. Different qualitative analysis methods and futures techniques represent the spearhead of his versatile expertise. Ilppo is particularly excited about strategic planning, the development of methods and ‘understanding the bigger picture’. Spectator sports play an integral part of Ilppo's leisure time.

Jere Talvitie, M.Sc. (Admin.)

Specialist +358 50 301 4698

Jere is a specialist in the field of local and regional governance. This is based on his profound knowledge of economic and juridical regulation processes pertaining to public administrations. He is also well acquainted with regional innovation policies and of the various kinds of network-based models at the centre of regional development work since the 2010s. He is also interested in competitive strategies and in the advantages that make regions prosper in global & national competition. As a part of his Master’s degree he studied the rearrangement of research, development, and innovation models relating to the social and healthcare sector in the new Regions that are now being formed as a part of Finland's provincial reform. Jere likes to spend his free time doing sports or watching documentary-films.

Satu Tolonen

Satu Tolonen, M.Sc. (Planning Geography)

Specialist +358 40 704 3247

On maternity leave 8.3.2019-

Satu is a planning geographer who excels in document, statistics and GIS analyses. On her desk, large data masses get transformed into neat and informative maps and graphs. Satu has a career background at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and is intimately familiar with regional development issues and research at both the national and European levels. Satu is pedantic and thorough, ensuring that all her survey, interview and network analyses as well as final project reports are polished and visually sound. Satu is most fond of projects that require profound familiarisation and she always enjoys working together with others.

Mikko Valtakari, Lic. Phil. (Planning Geography)

Specialist, partner +358 40 569 1568

Mikko is a Planning Geographer who has extensive expertise in research-based impact evaluations and the design of organisations' operations and services. Mikko is especially interested in questions related to innovation, economic and labour market policies, subjects which he has both researched and consulted on for over 20 years. Mikko masters the art of expertly sketching out complex issues in easily understandable form and in tackling the root causes of difficult to understand phenomena.

Advisor Team

Timo Hämäläinen

Timo Hämäläinen, M.Sc., M.A.

Advisor, Urban Policy 040 510 0313

Timo is a geographer specialising in urban & regional planning issues and cultural policy. He is known as a sharp opinion leader with crisp writing skills. His blog,, dissects the inner workings of Finnish urban development. He is also an urbanist advocate as one of Urban Helsinki collective’s founding members. Timo masters the latest trends in urban development, the different dimensions of citizen activism and participation, as well as the particularities of developing city centres and the areas around transit nodes.

Jarl Matti Anttila, M.Sc. (Econ. & BA)

Partner, Board Member 041 439 2582

Jarl Matti is an expert in business relationships and networks who always works whole-heartedly. He has measured, analysed, and inspired hundreds of business relationships in various industries and steered dozens of strategy and development processes. Recently, Jarl Matti has concentrated on digital sales opportunities. He is recognised as an inspiring and efficient workshop leader and a compelling lecturer, whose life passions include the performing arts and football.

Kari Hannus, M. Sc. (Tech.)

Advisor, land use, housing and traffic, municipal economics +358 50 2970

Kari is a senior urban development expert. His special expertise lies in planning, land use, housing and traffic issues. Kari has deepened his knowledge of municipal technology and municipal business during his time as the deputy mayor of the City of Pori. Kari is enthusiastic about managing the vitality of cities in general and the physical and functional development of city centres in particular.

Kristiina Helenius, M.Sc. (Econ)

Advisor, International affairs, United States +358 45 122 6051 / +1 202 365 9174

Kristiina has both exported Finland and imported foreign countries to Finland for almost twenty years. She has worked as a reporter, diplomat, NGO leader and as a consultant and has lived in Central Europe, Asia and the United States. She helped encourage foreign investments and the diffusion of knowledge in the context of Invest in Finland, Stubb and Ollila’s country brand working group and as a CEO for Amcham Finland. As the Nordic West Office leader for the United States she wants to make sure that the Nordic voice continues to get heard there. Her mission is to help Finnish actors from across the business world function in the United States.

Eero Holstila

Eero Holstila, M.Sc.Soc.

Senior Advisor, Urban Policy 050 567 2087

Eero is the ground breaker and the ‘grand old man’ of Finnish urban policy who has, as a sociologist, a nuanced way of understanding the world. Eero has previously held positions as i.e. the Director of Helsinki Urban Facts, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for the City of Helsinki, and the CEO and Chairman of the Board for Culminatum Innovation Ltd. He has an intelligent personality and he is an eloquent speaker. Urban development, “sparring” in urban strategy development, and policies for innovation and economic vitality, are at the core of his professional competencies. He also continues to participate in European urban development discussions. Outside the office, Eero is passionate about classical music and sports.

Petri Jalasto

Petri Jalasto, M.Sc. (Tech.)

Senior Advisor, Transport Policy

Petri is an expert in mobility systems and policy. During his former post at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, he fundamentally influenced the development of Finnish transport infrastructures – especially in urban areas. Petri is particularly interested in future-oriented studies and has been part of a professional movement to overcome the silo-thinking within public administration that affects the implementation of e.g. urban policies. Petri has also adventured in the world of contract-based development and is an able guide if you need to know how to make them work. Lately Petri has taken an interest in the servicizing of transportation, which he thinks will revolutionise the field of transportation in the near future.

Jari Kolehmainen, D.Sc. (Admin.)

Senior Advisor, urban and regional development +358 40 584 9077

Jari’s background is in regional studies and he is an expert in knowledge-based regional development. He works as a research director at the University of Tampere. Jari has worked in the field of regional innovation activities, economic development and innovation policies and strategic regional development for almost twenty years. In addition to academic research, he has been involved in numerous practical regional and urban development processes as lecturer, sparrer or external expert. Jari is a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ in the field of urban and regional development!

Natalia Rincon, M.Sc. Architecture, PHD candidate in Smart Cities

Advisor, Urban Policy 040 9359 824

Natalia is an architect and a computer science engineer focusing on citizen engagement, urban planning and smart cities. She is a founder and CEO at CHAOS architects Oy which develops the smart city platform which unites citizens, cities and developers - and provides urban analytics with citizen engagement, big data and forecasting. She is also writing her Doctoral Dissertation in urban planning at Aalto University. She dedicates her free time to the Green Party, where she serves as a deputy councillor and as a member of several urban planning boards in Tampere.

Chris Smith, M.Litt (Strategic Studies), PhD Candidate in Public Administration

Advisor 040 757 7573

Chris is a political scientist specialising in the politics of health care management and administration. His publication interests include ‘wild cards’ in futures research, Services of General Interest, European Social Policy, Comparative healthcare reform processes and Marketisation and accessibility to health care. He has extensive teaching and research project experience in an international environment having worked in the UK university sector and in a Nordic context in the Spatial Planning field. The primary themes of his doctoral studies at Tampere University are Agenda Setting in health care policy and Public Choice theory in public service provision Chris has become an avid sports fan now that participation is less realistic; friends and socialising are also very important as are his ‘zen moments’ with his dogs.

Osmo Soininvaara, Lic. (Soc. Sci.)

Senior Policy Advisor

Osmo is an iconic and eloquent thinker, speaker, and writer whose spiky and bold commentary excites discussion and opinions repeatedly. Following his long career as a Member of Parliament and appointment as Minister of Health and Social Services, Osmo now works as a non-fiction writer and professional lecturer. His position as the Vice Chair of Helsinki's City Planning Committee underlines that urban planning and development is the topic his energy is particularly focused on. Osmo is an active opinion leader in urban policy debates; his columns in Suomen Kuvalehti often deal with urban development and he has recently co-written a pamphlet called 'Kaupunkien voitto' together with Mikko Särelä for the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA.

Katja Syvärinen, M.A.

Advisor 050 463 7673

Katja specialises in participatory interaction, local democracy and customer and citizen-oriented methods. Katja has a Master’s in speech communication and is a communications and interaction professional. She has also studied service design, business development and management. As a former MP she has thirty years of experience in municipal politics and societal-influencing. Over the years, Katja’s experience has been utilised by numerous municipalities and NGOs as well as by expert organisations such as Sitra and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. Katja loves hiking in Lapland, cottage life and singing.

Anssi Uitto, M.Sc. (Tech.)

Partner, Board Member 040 527 3844

Anssi holds a master’s degree in industrial management and brings ‘skillsmanship’, precision and efficiency to each of his projects. Charming and easy-going Anssi is an expert in networks, processes and innovations. During his career, he has steered countless extensive strategy and development projects for organisations from the private and public sectors. Anssi has a magic ability to structure matters logically and transform vague and complex issues into ones that are defined and understandable. Outside of work, Anssi likes to fish, drive his motorcycle and play badminton.

Jukka Vesalainen

Jukka Vesalainen, D.Sc. (Econ. & BA)

Senior Advisor 050 562 5048

Jukka is a professor in management and organisation, a pioneer in Finnish network research, and the founder of MDI. Jukka is interested in organisations and their cooperation and is well-known within the Finnish technology industry as a pragmatic researcher and developer. In addition to his professorial position, Jukka works actively as a strategy sparrer and developer and participates in the steering of small and medium-sized enterprises. In his free time, Jukka enjoys physical exercise and has a reputation as a ‘soft-handed’ and unstoppable centre forward at the ice hockey rink.

Established partners

Eero Laesterä, D.Sc. (Admin.)

Chairperson of the Board, Perlacon Oy +358 400 735 772

Eero is a consultant specialising in boosting municipal economies. His widely known expertise lies in economic pressure calculations and in new ways of researching indebtedness. Eero has simulated different problems and systematised solution options for dozens of Finnish municipalities.

Perlacon Ltd is an experienced municipal consultancy, well known in almost every Finnish municipality. We provide our clients with expertise in developing good management structures, so that the municipal organisation serves its customers in the best possible way.

Jouko Luukkonen, M.Sc. (Admin.), MBA

Owner, entrepreneur, LGR-Consulting Oy +358 45 189 3138

Jouko has extensive experience of managing municipalities, networks, municipal development and board work. He has worked both as a mayor and as a change manager. His particular interests include a focus on the interfaces between a municipality and a region. He is currently finishing his Doctoral Thesis on regional social and health care actors for Tampere University.

Mari Dawe,

Client Manager +358 50 441 3209

Mari looks at things from a wider perspective and asks constantly, … why? Mari has over ten years’ experience of the advertising industry and of managing large customer cases. Being empathetic, Mari takes customers' wishes into account and empowers clients to look ‘outside the box’. Mari has, for example, created the ‘new look’ for the City of Seinäjoki.

BSTR Luova Konttori is an advertising agency whose aim is to ‘get to the nub’ of things and of clients’ needs. We dive deep, aim high and create sustainable ideas. Successful ideas are our most important product. We combine creativity and marketing knowledge with data and technology. We are in total 25 experts ready to form a suitable team for every customer.

Minna Utriainen,

COO, Strategist, Avidly +358 40 834 4482

Minna is a bold strategic communications expert. She is driven by a constant curiosity and desire to understand people, deliver results and responsibly change the world. Behind the new perspectives are passion, attitude and nearly 20 years of experience in strategic communications and tactical marketing.

Avidly is a marketing agency with more than 240 experts in the Nordic countries, across 16 locations. We at Avidly are adventurous and are constantly looking for new paths towards a better tomorrow.