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Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union 

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Ownwell’s success is based on reliable support teams and precisely done research

– My childhood dream was to be able to study to be a pharmacist or to complete an elementary laboratory degree, Moustafa Moustafa says. There is no spelling error here. – I often say my name is Double-Moustafa, he jokes. Moustafa comes from Northern Syria, the town of Afrínin, close to Aleppo. In Syria, names always have a meaning. Moustafa means admirable and excellent. If the name is a prediction, as often said, Moustafa Moustafa has doubly of great features.

Moustafa’s dream came finally true in Finland when he graduated from Omnia in Espoo with an elementary degree in laboratory science with admirable and excellent grades. He speaks fluent Finnish and has settled in Nissinmäki, Espoo, with his wife Rula and their four children. Life is quite good but has not always been that.

The conflict in Syria drove the family to Finland

In Syria, studying was difficult for Moustafa due to being a Kurd. In Syria, Kurds are not allowed to study in their language, and the possibilities to study are not good in any aspect. – In high school, I studied in Arabian. I wanted to go to university, but the situation for Kurds was very tough, Moustafa says and continues:

– I was an entrepreneur together with my three brothers and my father. We ran four petrol stations having 30 employees. When we received petrol and diesel, I always checked to ensure they were okay, and no water or impurities could be discovered. After that, the fuels got emptied into the petrol stations’ fuel tanks. I got interested in laboratory work because, after all, I already had previous experience.

For decades the situation for Kurds in Syria has been poor. Furthermore, the conflict in Syria has been going on for more than ten years. When the extremist group Isis started taking over areas in Syria Moustafa realized that the time to leave had come. He escaped to Turkey through Lebanon and continued to Finland. Now Moustafa’s family petrol stations have been bombed, and Isis has taken over their home. The worry for his old parents and all the relatives left behind in Syria is always present.

– I chose Finland because I heard that Finland is a good country for children and offers good possibilities to study. It is also significant that there is peace in Finland. When we went to bed in Syria, we could never be sure we would wake up in the morning due to the bombings. I arrived in Finland on March 25th, 2014, and it is like my birthday. I will never forget that day.

Field research with Ownwell

Before his graduation from Omnia Moustafa wanted to work as a trainee. Petra Gynther, a teacher in the laboratory sector, and Elina Roine, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, needed assistance in the field research for the Ownwell method. Omnia laboratory students have been a part of developing the chemical-free cleaning method since 2018 together with Ownwell.

The aim was to test how well the Ownwell method actually works in different surroundings.

The students’ tasks included taking thousands of samples, analysing them, and testing the method in practice.

Researcher Elina Roine explained clearly how to take a sample, how to prepare sampling cups, how to incubate, in other words, how to culture in different temperatures. I learned everything fast, Moustafa says. We took samples in kindergartens, public swimming pools, and Omnia’s restaurant, before and after cleaning with the Ownwell method.

– I had many students in my guidance. We always took the samples from the exact same place and in the same way. We verified the spot by even taking a photo. We took the samples to the lab and incubated them in a heated cabinet. Some samples were left in there for a day and some for two. We examined what was growing in the cups and how much. We made accurate notes and Excel tables, Moustafa explains.

Moustafa was also very precise about how to destroy samples. He ensured that all analysed samples went through the autoclave before ending up in the bin. An autoclave is an airtight pressure vessel for disinfection of, for example, hospital instruments.

Admirable and excellent cooperation

Mikko Haapsaari, Cleaning Technician and Partner at Ownwell, says he is very pleased with Moustafa’s work.

– When we started the research, we went around to all destinations and took the first samples together. Sometimes I am a bit rough, and, on many occasions, I would have been happy with the sample, but Moustafa was always strictly precise. Thanks to him, the samples never got mixed up. The documentation was admirably accurate. You can only imagine the chaos in the laboratory due to even the smallest unclarity in the documentation of thousands of samples.

The cleaning methods developed in cooperation with Omnia students resulted in three patents to the Ownwell method.

– The opportunity for such cooperation between a company and an educational institution has been great, and as we can now confirm, it can at its best lead to new patents.

Moustafa immediately realised how significant this research was for us. The difficulty is that we are dealing with an invisible world. The sample cups are the way to make the microbiologic world visible. Research makes people realise that microbes can also be discovered on cleaned, clean, and safe surfaces. All microbes are not harmful, but some microbes can be good for humans, having an important part in our normal environment. Their role is to support human wellbeing, Ownwell’s Managing Director Timo Kaarlela says.

Moustafa Moustafa lives with his family in Nissinmäki, Espoo. His family from left to right:
Khadija (15), Shukri (8), father Moustafa (41), Tirij (11), Amina (16), and mother Rula (35).

The children enjoy going to school, mother Rula studies Finnish, and father Moustafa is seeking a job corresponding to his education.

The laboratory sector has been Moustafa’s dream job since his childhood. In Finland, his dream finally came true. He graduated from Omnia Espoo to be a laboratory technician and is now hoping to find a job in the laboratory sector.

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