HUR: Innovative exercise concepts the key to successful export

HUR, based in Kokkola, Finland, offers comprehensive exercise solutions for strength, speed and balance training for all target groups from athletes to senior citizens. Finnish cooperation, innovative product development and productisation have ensured increasing exports on a global scale from the late 1990s.

HUR supplies professional exercise concepts for senior training, medical fitness and gyms, distinguishing itself from competitors with the smartest comprehensive computerised exercise solution in the market. The company manufactures the exercise equipment, whose effectiveness in terms of customers' development is monitored via HUR SmartTouch.

The company has subsidiaries in six countries and employs a total of 80 people. Solutions are in place in 54 countries. Company headquarters, production and productisation are based in Kokkola, Finland.

"In addition to in-house product development and production, we cooperate with for instance Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius' Health Sciences unit and other actors in the field in Finland. Cooperation is key for us in order to be able to offer the concepts that are in demand worldwide," says Lena Karjaluoto, CEO of HUR.

Together with Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius' Health Sciences unit and RAIsoft, HUR has developed the WELMED concept that meets the global needs in the markets and enables also the assessment of costs. The key innovation is a test laboratory for the assessment of physical functions and the related IT systems, analysis equipment and development services. The first customer for this solution is Singapore, where HUR is involved in the GYM Tonic project which focuses on the elderly population. As part of the solution, 50 physiotherapists from Singapore are trained in Kokkola.

Global growth since the 1990s

Mats Manderbacka established the company in 1989. It all began when Manderbacka was studying at the University of Helsinki and athletes asked him for help in increasing speed and explosive strength. In the late 1990s, senior citizens became a major user group as the Japanese Government wanted to find ways to reduce costs and keep the ageing population in good physical condition. HUR's equipment was ideal for the purpose.

"This trend has spread from Japan around the world. Other Asian countries have also shown an interest. Recently we met representatives of a Thailand ministry, and groups from Taiwan and Hong Kong are going to visit us to find out more about our solutions," says Karjaluoto.

"Another focus area is the Middle East, where training and exercise of the elderly are still in their infancy but a healthy way of life is gaining ground. We see potential in the Americas. Countries like Mexico, Brazil and Colombia are new, interesting markets for us," says Karjaluoto.

HUR is expanding its markets by providing solutions for the private sector. "Our latest points win was the deal with Samsung. They wish to keep their employees fit and decided to order a solution from HUR for the purpose. In Finland, we are used to buying South Korean technology but it is Samsung's turn now to buy solutions from Finland to improve, maintain and measure the health and physical fitness of their employees."

Product development and field work the keys to growth

HUR has maintained its growth trend through continuous innovative product development and hard work out in the field. HUR has set more ambitious growth targets for the next five years. Tekes has been involved particularly in the product development side of the business.

"Throughout company history, Tekes has been involved one way or another, and we are extremely pleased with their assistance, which has been readily available whenever needed. Tekes support has been invaluable particularly in our product development, in which, in my opinion, we excel in Finland " says Karjaluoto.

In the next five years, HUR intends to place specific focus on sales and marketing, aiming to increase the number of regional managers responsible for the sales of solutions in new areas and strengthening visibility for instance in the Middle East and Europe.

More information

Lena Karjaluoto
lena.karjaluoto (at)

Author: Kaiku Helsinki

Pia Mörk