Martti Saarela appointed Research Director of the MicroENTRE® Micro-Entrepreneurship Centre

Martti Saarela, Ph.D., LL.M, M.Sc. in Economics has been appointed Research Director at the MicroENTRE® Micro-Entrepreneurship Centre of the Kerttu Saalasti Institute at the University of Oulu. He has been working in the Micro-Entrepreneurship Research Group since its establishment in 2011, most recently as Development Manager. Saarela will take up the position on 15 August 2024.
Martti Saarela

MicroENTRE® is a unique research group and service centre that provides research-based knowledge on micro-entrepreneurship, helps create the conditions for sustainable business growth and builds an entrepreneurial society. Martti Saarela will succeed Anna-Mari Simunaniemi, PhD, M.Sc., who is moving to Vaasa University of Applied Sciences.
The Research Director will be responsible for defining and building the direction of the growing micro-entrepreneurship research field in collaboration with the professors, development manager, researchers and other staff of the multidisciplinary research group. The Research Director will also act as a key staff member of the Micro-Entrepreneurship Research Group and will participate in the Institute's Management Group.

Part of a continuum

Saarela has worked continuously at the University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute (formerly the Oulu Southern Institute) since 2009 and in the Micro-Entrepreneurship Research Group since its establishment in 2011, when the Kerttu Saalasti Institute launched the micro-entrepreneurship research theme of the first EU regional development project. Saarela has worked in the research group as a designer, project researcher and for the last four years as a development manager. Since 2022, he has also served as interim programme manager, leading the nationwide task of micro-entrepreneurship research and education at the University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute. He is delighted with her new role.

"The role of Research Director is a unique vantage point for micro-entrepreneurship research, education and development and a position of influence. Previous Research Directors have pioneered research and the identification and highlighting of the specificities of micro-entrepreneurship. I am excited about the opportunity to continue this impressive work as Research Director together with the MicroENTRE® team and our stakeholders," says Saarela.

Saarela says that MicroENTRE® aims to produce increasingly high-quality, internationally recognised research. "Although there has been an international increase in research on the specific characteristics of micro-enterprises, there are still many identified research gaps in the entrepreneurship literature, such as internationalisation of micro-enterprises, high-growth micro-enterprises, strategic management, and innovation activities in micro-enterprises. The broad expertise and existing strengths of our research team form the basis for the cumulative production of research knowledge," says Saarela.

Strong evidence in the specific field of micro-entrepreneurship

"We launched an open call for a Research Director in micro-entrepreneurship. Martti Saarela has a very strong track record in the specific area of the Research Director's role, in micro-entrepreneurship research, education and social impact in the specific field. Saarela has more than ten years of experience in micro-entrepreneurship research and development. His exceptionally strong experience in the specific field of micro-entrepreneurship (research, education, societal impact) and his developmental approach place him in an excellent position to succeed", says Professor Matti Muhos, Director of the Kerttu Saalasti Institute at the University of Oulu.

According to Muhos, for Saarela, the role of Research Director for micro-entrepreneurship is a logical step from Development Manager to the next stage, given his career goals and expertise.

An opportunity to strengthen partnerships and contribute to society

The Research Director will strengthen partnership networks, for example by effectively managing research and education activities as part of a broad network, by building networks to attract competitive funding, and by building fruitful collaborations with Finnish and international universities and research organisations, as well as with companies and other organisations that are part of our stakeholder base.

"Research Director Martti Saarela has already served as Deputy Programme Director for the national mission, so he is familiar with the work of the national mission steering group, among other things. In this role, Saarela has successfully coordinated the fundraising campaign for the endowed professorship in micro-entrepreneurship, which led to the establishment of Finland's first tenure-track professorship in micro-entrepreneurship at the University of Oulu," says Muhos.
According to Muhos, the position of Research Director for micro-entrepreneurship is an excellent place to use research knowledge to influence sustainable growth of entrepreneurship, especially in micro-enterprises, and to build a society that encourages entrepreneurship with a broad network of partners. The Research Director will have the opportunity to actively participate in the societal debate by highlighting the latest research and making informed presentations.

Photo: Minna Kilpeläinen

Last updated: 3.7.2024