"It was supposed to be only a three-month work stint, but I'm still here," says Mika Nikander, a health technology engineer who started working at Sooma Ltd in 2013. After graduating Mika worked on a product development project funded by the Foundation for Finnish Inventions about a year, until the newly founded Sooma found Mika. When Mika started at Sooma, he was the first full-time employee of the company in addition to the two founding members. “I came to build a quality system, but very soon a lot of other interesting tasks started to accumulate on my desk and three months has now been extended to seven years,” Mika continues.
Finnish Sooma Ltd develops drug-free treatment devices and methods based on neuromodulation for depression and chronic pain. In the case of equipment and processes affecting human health, the quality system must be in good working order. At Sooma, the quality system complies with the standard ISO 13485 for medical devices.
Varying tasks and growth
In addition to building a quality system, Mika also participated in the organisation of clinical trials during his first years at Sooma. When the product was launched in 2014, sales work began. First in Finland, but gradually also worldwide. Currently, Mika works as Sooma's Chief Operating Officer, responsible for maintaining the international sales network and handling quality issues. “There’s no such thing in this company, that I haven't done. When there are only a few employees, everyone does everything. Now, of course, there are already 13 of us, and as our business grows, we will need more employees,” says Mika. “However, we will continue to strive to maintain a small business mentality,” he adds.
Highlights of the Sooma years
Mika says that over the years there have been a lot of successes with big milestones. “The CE marking that our device received in 2014, was a tremendous thing - in practice it was the initial impetus for sales. Building a distribution network covering more than 30 countries has been a big effort. The latest reason for celebration was the Current Care Recommendation for the use of transcranial direct current stimulation in treatment of depression issued by the Finnish Medical Association's Duodecim,” he lists. “Absolute highlights are also the feedback from patients. At its best, our treatment has helped a depressed patient from decades of hospitalisation back into working life,” Mika explains.
Humane Engineering Organisation
"Although Sooma was kicked off as a product development project and we are in principle an engineering organisation, I am proud that right from the start we put the patient at the center of our operations. Not only do we make equipment, we make depression and pain treatments available to anyone who needs them. Every Sooma employee shares this basic idea - we exist for patients and we want to bring relief to their lives,” Mika opens the company's philosophy.
So, what is Sooma's working atmosphere like? “Our workforce has different personalities and sometimes we have differences of opinion. These can be discussed productively and constructively, as we all share the same mission and are committed to doing our best for the benefit of patients. In the event of a conflict, we always return to this basic idea. I see that the same common direction that is clear to everyone, is very significant value,” Mika says after thinking for a moment.
“Personally, I initially had to stretch my comfort limits when, as an engineer, I threw myself at the patient interface, but it has paid off. This work cannot be done just at the designing table”.