April 19, 2017

Finnish Engineering Award 2017 to developers of hormonal intrauterine system

The Finnish Engineering Award 2017 is given to the work group of Pirjo Sallinen, M.Sc. (Tech.), Dr. Manja Ahola, D.Phil., Taina Tjäder, Lic.Sc. (Tech.), Ilkka Jutila, M.Sc. (Tech.), and Juha Lehtinen, B. Sc. (Pharm.) The group, who works at Bayer Oy in Finland, is awarded for the globally successful product family built around the hormonal intrauterine system (IUS).

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The team: (from left) Ilkka Jutila, Pirjo Sallinen, Juha Lehtinen, Manja Ahola and Taina Tjäder. 
Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK and Tekniska Föreningen i Finland TFiF present the €30,000 prize in Helsinki on 5 April 2017.

The awarded work has successfully utilized and productized results from previous research, and generated revenue and jobs in Finland. The sales of the product have increased for several years, and the world-wide sales of the entire product family crossed the one-billion euro mark last year. The first contraceptive of this product family has been the biggest individual export product in the Finnish pharmaceutical industry since 2001.

In addition to the medical and economic results, Bayer's long-term contraceptive products have promoted the health and wellbeing of millions of women and given them the opportunity to take control of their own lives.

The hormonal IUS is a combination product consisting of a drug-releasing polymer-based hormone cylinder and various components.

The work group has provided a remarkable contribution to the technological development related to intrauterine hormonal contraception. Their work has combined further development of drug release from the polymer-based hormone cylinder and factors relating to the compatibility of materials and implementation of functional components.

The product development work has focused on developing and scaling up the manufacturing method of the pharmaceutical product, which has required many tests and analyses. There have also been challenges due to the IUS component materials and their compatibility.

The work group is operating in a medical field that requires perseverance and a systematic approach. Various regulatory requirements in different countries and changes in those requirements during the long development processes have also been challenging.

"The award is a wonderful acknowledgement for the dozens of people who have worked with the hormonal IUS product family. Engineering skills have been needed in many different sectors – from materials, components and manufacturing technology to the development of the work methods – but above all success has required wide expertise and collaboration between all the talents working in the development, scale up and commercialization of these products. We would not be here without engineering competence but neither would we be here without the expertise in clinical research or regulatory affairs, for example," says Pirjo Sallinen, Global Program Head and a member of the work group.

TEK's committee for technology considers this work a notable Finnish cross-disciplinary achievement, with long-term R&D investment resulting in a global product that has achieved commercial breakthrough.

Further information:

Pekka Pellinen, Director, TEK, +358 40 5219 424

Marjo Tiitto, Communications Manager, Bayer Oy, +358 50 395 6139

The Finnish Engineering Award is given once a year. It is presented as an acknowledgement to an individual or a work group. The award criteria pay special attention to the significance of the work in advancing and commercializing Finnish technical competence. The goal is to give the award to different types of work in different fields in different years. For more information on the Finnish Engineering Award and its winners in previous years, go to https://www.tek.fi/en/technology-future/finnish-engineering-award.

Award recipients

Pirjo Sallinen, M.Sc. (Tech.), chemistry and chemical engineering, Global Program Head. Has led the team that covers pharmaceutical/chemical product development, clinical research, regulatory affairs, marketing, and production.

Dr. Manja Ahola, D.Phil., Faculty of Medicine, Department Manager, Formulation Development. Responsible for pharmaceutical/chemical overall development, member of the project team.

Taina Tjäder, Lic.Sc. (Tech.), chemical engineering, Development Manager, responsibility area: intracorporeal components and materials and inserters.

Ilkka Jutila, M.Sc. (Tech.), Senior OE Specialist, has worked as a scientist in developing IUS inserters in particular.

Juha Lehtinen, B.Sc. (Pharm.), has worked in development tasks related to IUS production, Project Manager at Product Supply.

Last updated: April 19, 2017  Copyright © Bayer Nordic