TeliaSonera institutes an award in memory of Professor Östen Mäkitalo

TeliaSonera today announced that it has instituted a scholarship award in memory of ProfessorÖsten Mäkitalo, The Östen Mäkitalo Award.

“With the Östen Mäkitalo Award, TeliaSonera wishes to honour and recognise his pioneering role in developing present-day telecommunications as well as encouraging outstanding entrepreneurial initiatives and ground-breaking telecommunications research in Professor Mäkitalo’s spirit,” Håkan Dahlström, President of TeliaSonera Mobility Services, said.


Professor Mäkitalo, who died at the age of 72 earlier this year, is best remembered for his pivotal role in developing the world’s first fully automated mobile phone system, NMT. At the early age of 29, he was appointed Head of Research at Swedish Telecom’s bureau for radio communications. The desire and ability to transcend boundaries between technology areas characterised his leadership. He initiated experiments and trials, challenged common beliefs and was guided by a visionary view of what could be attained, always with the user in mind. Over a short period of time, he and his colleagues developed innovative and useful services such as the mobile paging system MBS, the Radio Data System, RDS, and Mobitex, the world’s first packet switched data communication network.


Throughout his career Östen Mäkitalo had a singular ability to view technology and the user in the same context. He always strived to develop solutions that could simplify daily life. One of these practical achievements was to make mobile communication available also in road tunnels and underground metro systems.


After heading Telia Research with responsibility for corporate technology development, Östen Mäkitalo focused on what we now know as wireless networks, such as WiFi Hotspots. Once again, he was at the centre of exciting developments – now as an inspiration to pursue new applications. He enthusiastically encouraged bold technology start-ups and served as advisor on selected boards.


Following retirement from TeliaSonera in 2005, Östen Mäkitalo returned to the Royal Institute of Technology as a Guest Professor.


The Östen Mäkitalo Award will be given annually, alternating between an entrepreneur and a researcher every other year. In 2012, however, awards will be given in both categories. At the award ceremony, winners will have the opportunity to present their research findings and business ideas to a distinguished audience. These presentations will also be published. In addition to academic and public recognition for their achievements, they will receive a scholarship amounting to SEK 100,000.


Nominees and winners for the Östen Mäkitalo Award will be selected by an award committee headed by Jens Zander, Professor in Radio Communications at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. Other members of the committee are Acting Rector Linnar Viik, Estonian IT College, Professor Yrjö Neuvo, Aalto University School of Science and Technology, Malin Frenning, President TeliaSonera Broadband Services and Håkan Dahlström, President TeliaSonera Mobility Services.


The Östen Mäkitalo Award will be administered by the TeliaSonera Institute at the Stockholm School of Economics. Professor Bertil Thorngren, formerly Head of the Center for Information and Communications Research at the Stockholm School of Economics, will head the nomination process.