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Elias Hakalehto

The CEO of Finnoflag Oy, Dr. Elias Hakalehto, learned the basics for microbe utilization in biotechnology applications already in early 1980's as a research assistant in former Biotechnological laboratory of the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) (Espoo, Finland).


In 1986 he was the first scientist in a project between the University of Helsinki and Valio dairies corporation. This project shaped the Valio's entry into the probiotics business, leading to the acquisition of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain and its successful launching as the leading star of the field. After his graduation Elias Hakalehto participated for one year an intensive course "Postgraduate Diploma in Biotechnology" which approximately equaled with M.Sci degree. During the course he participated on gene technology courses in three different universities in UK and managed for the first time in the world to clone gene material (gene of clavulic acid) of Streptomyces (more than 95 % of antibiotic production in the world) into Escherichia coli (report "Gene Cloning in Streptomyces"). During this project was developed also a plasmid vector, which has been the basis for R&D and production in antibiotic sector for international pharmaceutical industry. This work was done in the laboratory of Polytechnic of Central London (at present Westminster University).

In London he also attended the lectures of "Biochemical Engineering" and practical period of the pilot production in University Collage of London under supervision of prof. Malcolm D. Lily and Petr Dunnill. The professors belonged to the Royal Societyin UK and they were the pioneers of industrial production of antibiotics and enzymes after the Second World War. During that period he also attented every Friday lectures of environmental microbiology and microbephysiology in Kent University of Canterbury (held by e.g. prof. Alan T. Bull, also a member of Royal Society).

After returning back to Finland Elias Hakalehto was acting as a microbiology and biochemistry teacher at the Helsinki and Kuopio Universities. In the latter one he was the leader of the one year Biotechnology Course for the Academic Personal (1987-88), Course in Environmental Biotechnology (1988), Rapid Microbial Detection Project (1992-95) and Bioagent Threat Monitoring project (1993-94). He also conducted research as a visiting scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1990-91) and its Biotechnology Unit and Hadassah Medical School.

In his company, Finnoflag Oy, Dr. Elias Hakalehto has been the Key Technology Provider in several projects, such as the Finnish Polaris project (for the safety of water departments) in 2009-2012 and in the EU Baltic Sea Region ABOWE biorefinery project in 2012-2014 (Implementing Advanced Concepts for the Biological Utilization of Waste).

Currently, besides acting as the CEO of Finnoflag Oy, a small R & D laboratory and field project company, Dr. Elias Hakalehto is serving as an adjunct professor in Biotechnical Microbe Analytics for the University of Eastern Finland (since 2008), and as an adjunct professor in microbiological agroecology for the University of Helsinki (since 2016). He is the chair of the 22nd International Conference on Environmental Indicators, in Helsinki, Finland, August 1st to 5th, 2017, and a Vice President of the International Society of Environmental Indicators.