It all started in 2002. Matti Tommiska was working for Helsinki University of Technology when Kimmo Järvinen joined the team as a researcher. Their shared research activities continued until 2004, and Matti and Kimmo stayed in touch. In 2016 they started talking about an idea what would later become known as Xiphera.
The fellowship was born in the heart of Helsinki area’s biggest student community, Otaniemi. Now, almost 20 years later, Xiphera is celebrating its fourth anniversary in the very same building where Kimmo and Matti met in 2002. The reason why Otaniemi is such an appealing location for Xiphera to stay is quite straightforward, and it’s called Aalto University.
Location, location, location
In the early 2018 Xiphera joined Aalto Startup Center (ASUC), also located in Otaniemi. Companies in ASUC have a link to Aalto University through either the owners’ personal background or the actual business. ”The location near and connection with Aalto University were critical parts in this decision for Xiphera”, says Matti Tommiska. ”Basically, we didn’t even consider any other startup hubs than Aalto University’s.”
When the time came for finding a new office in late 2020, A Grid, where also ASUC is located, was the first in the list. The location near metro and Helsinki city centre was important, and Xiphera wanted to keep the connection to Aalto University even though the time as an ASUC startup was over. Also, location in Otaniemi would make Xiphera an interesting employer for students living there and studying in the top university of Finland.
Xiphera has indeed been an appealing company for many Aalto students, and in total five out of six of Xiphera’s current employees (excluding the Co-founders Matti and Kimmo) are current or former students from different schools of Aalto University.
Latest addition to the team is Joonatan Honkamaa who is working as a Cryptographic Trainee for the summer 2021. Joonatan’s main focus in his work is to investigate opportunities on the area of homomorphic encryption.
”Xiphera caught my eye for two reasons”, Joonatan says. ”First, cryptography as a topic is fascinating. Second, a growing company in Otaniemi seemed like a great place to work in.” Location at A Grid was favourable; the office is now closer than the campus for Joonatan who lives in the heart of Otaniemi’s student community. So far, the summer job has been a pleasant one: ”It’s been interesting and challenging at the same time. It’s also nice to have a lot of responsibility that also gives you freedom for your own work.”
Relationships with academic and non-academic worlds
In addition to the location and human resources, Xiphera has been keeping a tight relationship with Aalto University’s numerous communities both in academic and non-academic sides. We keep ourselves available for guilds and associations that are important ingredients for the magical Aalto spirit.
Also, in the academic world, Xiphera is collaborating with courses in different schools at Aalto University. CEO Matti Tommiska has been a visiting lecturer for “Digital Microelectronics II” course on topics about VHDL and FPGAs. In spring 2021, Xiphera was one of the case companies for the School of Business’ Capstone course, and this summer we are on board in Protocamp summer course arranged by School of Electrical Engineering.
Having a close relationship like this with Aalto University and its communities and organisations is a win-win situation. Xiphera is receiving new ideas and contacts for the future while being able to help students get the most out of their courses and be there for a potential employer as well.
It’s no wonder why Matti and Kimmo decided to come back to the same building where they met in 2002. Xiphera is fully enjoying the benefits of academic location, entrepreneurial spirit, and young talents living and studying next door. Xiphera is happy and proud to be part of this unique ecosystem, and there’s no place we’d rather be.