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Matti Kokkala

Current position and responsibilities at VTT

Prof. Matti Kokkala holds currently the position of Senior Advisor, Smart Cities at the office of the CTO of VTT. In this role he is contributing to the future research strategies of VTT by inspiring and mentoring experts in various disciplines of VTT. In the area of smart cities research he works to make use of the synergies of research in the built environment, transport, energy, and ICT.

Research background and current research topics

Matti graduated from Department of Technical Physics of Helsinki University of Technology. During his studies he worked at the Low Temperature Laboratory developing applications of superconducting magnets. For the main part of his research career he was at the Fire Research Laboratory of VTT working broadly on different aspects of fire safety. As a Research Professor he was in a key role when developing the laboratory into an internationally well-known research unit.

In 2000 Matti started to focus on research management with a broader responsibility of building technologies. He was first the Research Manager in charge of a department with a staff of close to 100 experts. From 2006 to 2013 he was Vice President, Strategic Research being in charge of technology strategy, research partnerships and the management of the project portfolio in non-proprietary research on building & construction, traffic and transport, safety & security, and services. For the first two years he was also in charge of developing the applied materials research of VTT from a scattered activity of research teams around the whole organization into a research field with common strategy. As a VP he was also deputy to Executive Vice President, Strategic Research (i.e. Scientific Director) of VTT.

Matti was in a significant role in the development of the first Research Agenda for the Strategic Centre of Science, Technology and Innovation in the Built Environment, a public-private partnership for coordinating and funding research in the form of a limited company ( He has also acted in the Board of the company in 2009 to 2014 as one of the two representatives of research organizations / universities. In 2009 – 2010 he was assigned by the Minister of Environment of Finland, Mr Jan Vapaavuori, to carry our as a one-man committee a review of the Finnish research on the built environment and to make proposals to increase the relevance and impact of the research.

One of his recent goals at VTT has been to develop VTT towards being an internationally recognized R&D organization also for research and innovation in service business and technologies supporting services.

Throughout his career, Matti has been an active contributor to the international R&D community. His latest professional assignments include

  • Member of Board of Directors of Fulbright Center (Finland - U.S. Educational Exchange Commission), 2010 -
  • Member of ARUP Research Advisory Panel, and advisory group to ARUP’s global research activities, 2011 - 2013
  • Board Member & Chairman of the Programme Committee of CIB International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction, 2007 - 2010 (
  • Member of the High Level Group of European Construction Technology Platform, 2005 - 2009 (

Matti has also continuously developed his management competence. In 2003 he received Executive MBA degree from Helsinki School of Economics. Recently he also completed the VTT – IMD Business Management & Innovation program.


Doctor of Science (Technology)
Helsinki University of Technology, Dept. of Technical Physics, 1982; (dissertation: Applications of Superconducting Magnets in Magnetic Filtration and Separation)

Master of Science (Technology)
Helsinki University of Technology, Dept. of Technical Physics, 1977

Executive MBA
Helsinki School of Economics, 2003

Work history

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 1981 - present

2014 -
Senior Advisor

2006 - 2013
Vice President, Strategic Research

1986 - 2005
Research Professor of Fire Technology

1981 - 1986
Research Officer and Senior Research Scientist (Fire Technology)

Management assignments at VTT

2006 – 2013
Vice President, Strategic Research
- Services and the Built Environment 2009 -
- Technology in the Community 2007- 2009
- Applied Materials & Technology in the Community 2006 - 2007

2006 - 2013
Deputy to Executive Vice President, Strategic Research

2000 - 2005
Research Director & Research Manager, VTT Building and Transport
- Research Director, 2005
- Research Manager, Structures and Technical Building Services, 2001 – 2005
- Research Manager, Building Physics, Building Services and Fire Technology, 2000 – 2001

Research Manager, Head of Fire Research

Helsinki University of Technology, Low Temperature Laboratory, 1975 - 1981

1975 – 1981
Undergraduate Research Assistant, Assistant (teaching & research), and Research Assistant of the Academy of Finlnad

Extended visits abroad

1990 (2 months)
Fire Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan (Visiting Scientist, STA Fellowship)

1984 - 1985 (13 mo)
National Bureau of Standards (now NIST), Center for Fire Research (Guest Worker, Fulbright Scholarship)

Positions of trust and professional assignments

International Professional Organisations and Assignments

2011 - 2013
ARUP, Member of the Research Advisory Panel (

2010 - present
Fulbright Center, Finland - U.S. Educational Exchange Commission (, Member of Board of Directors

FIATECH (an initiative of the Construction Industry Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, see ). Member of Board of Directors

2007 - 2010
CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction, see ), Board Member and Chairman of the Programme Committee

Swedish Rescue Services Agency, Member of Scientific Advisory Board

2004 – 2009
ECTP (European Construction Technology Platform, see ), Member of the High Level Group 2007 - , Member and the contact person for the National Technology Platform Finland 2004 – 2007, Member of the Support Group 2006

Australian Fire Code Reform Centre Ltd; Commissioned to mid-term review of the Centre’s research, product, scope and direction, Chairman of the intl. review team

1994 - 2001
CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction), Coordinator (Chairman) of CIB W14: Fire

1994 - 2002
IAFSS (International Association of Fire Safety Science), see, Member 1986 - 2002, Member of Committee (Board) 1994 – 2002

1994 – 2002
International FORUM of Fire Research Directors, Member 1994 – 2001.

1994 - 1999
NORDTEST, Expert Group Fire, Member 1994 – 1999; Chairman 1997 – 1999.

1993 -
Member of the Examination Committee / Opponent of altogether 7 PhD dissertations at University of Liege (Belgium), Lund University (Sweden), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway), and Helsinki University of Technology (Finland).

Domestic Professional Organisations and Assignments

2009 - 2010
Ministry of the Environment; commissioned by Mr Jan Vapaavuori, Minister of Housing, as a one-man committee to evaluate and make proposals on the scope, impact, funding and organisation of research on building technology, housing, and land-use planning in Finland.

2009 – 2014
RYM Oy (Strategic Centre for Science, Technology, and Innovation in the Built Environment, an industry led public-private partnership to promote innovations), Board Member

2006 – 2007
Advisory Group of the Centre for New Materials, Helsinki University of Technology, Chairman

1995 - 2001
Council for Fire Research (Palotutkimusraati), Member of the Board 1995 – 2001; Vice Chairman 1995 – 1996.

1993 - present
Docent of Fire Technology at Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University)

Editorial Board Memberships

- International Journal of Fire Science and Technology (Japan), Editorial Board Member, 2006 –

- Fire & Materials (UK), Associate Editor, 1994 - 97; Editorial Board Member 1998 - 2006

- Journal of Fire Safety Science (USA), Editorial Board Member, 1995 - 2005

- Fire Safety Journal (UK), Editorial Board Member, 1995 - 2005

- Journal of Fire Protection Engineering (USA), Editorial Board Member, 1998 - 2005

- Fire Science and Technology (Japan), Editorial Board Member, 1999 - 2000

- Magnetic Separation News (USA), Editorial Board Member, 1983 - 1986

Standardization committees and working groups

2000 – 2001
ISO/TC92/SC4/WG7 Fire Safety Engineering – Assessment, Verification and Validation of Fire Models and Computer Codes, Convenor, (Chairman)

1992 – 1999
ISO/TC92/SC4/WG2 Fire Safety Engineering – Fire Growth and Smoke Movement, Convenor (Chairman)

1994 - 2001
SFS/TK108/RAPA: Standardisation within Structural Fire Safety, Chairman 1994 – 2001 (national mirror committee to ISO/TC92 and CEN/TC127)

Publications and patents

For complete list of publications, see

Selected publications:

Real Estate and Construction Sector: a challenge opr a problem to the innovation policy in Research, education and innovation in the building sector. Studies of the National Audit Office, 2/2013, pp. 36 – 40. (in Finnish):

Seven proposals for development: public research on housing, construction and land use in Finland. Reports of Ministry of the Environment, 10/2010, 57 p.  (in Finnish).

Changing Landscape of Research Organisations, paper presented at Coop.In.Building Research. Stuttgart, Germany, 29 Oct. 2008. 8 p.. IRB (2008)

Finnish Real Estate and Construction Cluster, paper presented at Conferencia International CIB: Macrotendencias na Construcao 2008. Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2 April 2008. P. 10.. University of Sao Paulo (2008)

T. Korhonen, J. Hietaniemi, D. Baroudi, and M. Kokkala, Time-dependent event-tree method for fire risk analysis: preliminary results. Fire Safety Science: Proc. of the Seventh International Symposium, Worchester, MA, June 2002, International Association of Fire Safety Science, 2002, pp.321 - 332 (peer review on the full paper).

J. Björkman, D. Baroudi, R. Latva, M. Tuomisaari, M. Kokkala, Determination of dynamic model parameters of smoke detectors. Fire Safety Journal., vol. 37 (2002) 4, s. 395 - 407.

M. Kokkala, D. Baroudi, and W. Parker, Upward flame spread on wooden surface products: experiments and numerical modelling, Hasemi, Y. (ed.) Fire Safety Science: Proc. of the Fifth International Symposium, Melbourne, Australia, 3 – 7 March 1997, International Association of Fire Safety Science, 1997, pp 309 – 320 (peer review on the full paper)


Decoration - Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, 6.12.2006, awarded by Ms. Tarja Halonen, President of Finland.

RIL Medal awarded by RIL - Finnish Association of Civil Engineers to the project team preparing the Strategic Centre for Science, Technology, and Innovation in the Built Environment, 2009.

Certificate of Appreciation by the International FORUM of Fire Research Directors, October 2003

Fulbright Scholarship for Research in the USA, 1984

Additional information

Prof. Matti Kokkala
Senior Advisor
+358 20 722 4800

Additional information

Prof. Matti Kokkala
Senior Advisor
+358 20 722 4800