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Glass Performance Days 2019 creates a legacy in glass

July 15, 2019  By Glass Performance Days

July 15, 2019 – This year’s Glass Performance Days (GPD) set a new benchmark of high-quality presentations, information sharing and personal networking for the entire glass industry value chain. Held from June 26–28 in Tampere, Finland, this is the 27th year since the world-class conference was established. According to the founding father and mastermind of the event Jorma Vitkala, “knowledge grows when knowledge is shared.” This is the spirit of GPD that will live on for generations to come.

Glass Performance Days began in 1992 as forum for various parties to meet in person and share perspectives to help the glass industry stay competitive in the face of evolving global trends. From its ambitious starting vision, the event has evolved to become a highly esteemed voice of the entire international glass community. Over the years, GPD has brought together more than 15,000 delegates to hear 3,700 presentations and has produced some 12,000 pages of technical documents.

“GPD has truly become a unique platform for trustworthy information,” says Jorma Vitkala, Chairman of the Organizing Committee. “This year, the focus was very much on the future. Smart cities, smart buildings, smart glazing and smart factories will take us into the next era. Changes are happening faster than ever before. So, we need to continue being the catalysts for ideas and innovation.”

Highlights from GPD 2019
This year, over 1,000 delegates from around the world participated in total, including those who attended the Helsinki High Rise seminar, the Management Forum guests and the local Tampere workshops. GPD 2019 set records in many ways. A total of 242 presentations offered by a world-class lineup of 220 speakers both set new records. An all-time high of 280 first-timers attended, marking a transition to next-generation participants. These will be some of the upcoming ambassadors to carry on making GPD a truly one-of-a-kind forum for openly sharing ideas, innovations and inspiration.


During the first-ever Management Forum held in conjunction with GPD, a panel of seven outstanding speakers presented their perspectives on mind-blowing megatrends and how these can create opportunities for smarter buildings and smarter business.

This is the first time CEOs, architects and other opinion leaders came together to discuss openly hot topics, such as urbanization, digitalization, technological breakthroughs and climate change, and how these redefine glass as we know it.

The overarching takeaway from the invitation-only Management Forum was that the glass industry already knows how to generate power and save energy with glass. Now by collaborating on new, multifaceted levels, the industry can make a change for a better world happen even faster.

Opening Ceremony looks toward the future
With the theme of “All eyes on smarter glass,” a truly global lineup of speakers gave their views on the glass business – and the importance of embracing and implementing new technologies.

Mr. Stefan Blach, from the world-renowned architectural company Studio Libeskind in New York, addressed to the challenge of introducing new ultra-modern public spaces without taking off the spirit or the heritage of the city. “Innovating and combining the variety of glass types and technologies is what makes it possible,” he claimed.

Mike Pilliod, Director of Manufacturing Innovation at Tesla, shared the company’s approach to great innovations. He believes instead of saying “No, it’s impossible,” every team should question what is needed to make it possible. “Our principal design idea dictates the requirements. This approach expands the toolbox for our designers and has enabled us to have a focus on glass throughout all of our products.”

Dr. Sener Oktik, CTO of SISECAM, one of the largest flat glass producers in Europe, gave an extensive overview of the development of flat and coated glass for the construction and automotive segments. “Both industries have a growing need for redefined surfaces: self-dimming, color-changing, lighter, greener, more flexible, durable and reliable. You can get most of these already today. But at what cost?” he asked.

At the end of the Opening Ceremony, James O’Callaghan was announced as the recipient of the very special Jorma Vitkala Award 2019 in recognition of all the great job he has been doing throughout his life, sharing his knowledge around the world and being a true contributor for the entire glass industry.

Workshops and seminars help share information
GPD offered 17 different workshops on intriguing glass topics, and 7 simultaneous, all-day session lines followed on a variety of subjects: Smart Technology, Glass & Sustainability, R&D, Façade, Market Trends in the Glass Industry and more.

James Lee, Director of External Affairs at the Glass and Glazing Federation summed up his personal experience as follows: “I was surprised how great the whole event was and delighted that I attended and participated. It was also great to meet so many interesting and knowledgeable people who clearly have a great passion for glass. The event and exhibition was much larger than I imagined.”

When asked what was stood out most for him, he replied, “I’d say the seminars I attended particularly on new prototypes that have yet to be launched to the market gave great insights to the future of the industry.”

He goes on to say that GPD’s role in helping the entire glass industry in the future is huge! “I can’t think of any event in our industry that attracts so many diverse key influencers from around the world. Also, I think GPD can be even better and bigger in the future as glass as a material takes a more prominent role in construction and generally in lifestyles in terms of energy efficiency, safety and security and healthy living conditions. I look forward to being part of future GPD events.”

Step Change into the future with startups
Since many new innovations in the future will come outside the glass industry, the Step Change program was introduced in 2017 as part of the conference for startups or scaleups. This helps the glass industry develop faster and enables startup companies to introduce their own new innovations to the entire group of GPD participants.

Comments from some of the Step Change participants were as follows:

“This was the first time our company participated at GPD. It is a nice chance to be here, to represent Physee, to be part of the window and the entire glass community. I really like everything here. It is an eye-opener,” said Joe Kao, R&D Engineer, Physee.

“Our goal is to give customers glass that creates comfort inside the buildings. And comfort means energy savings – but mainly, that people are happy to stay inside the building,” says Luigi Fusi, Executive Director of Sales, Heliotrope Technologies Inc.

I think it is great for us being here at GPD because we are based on wood products, and this is all glass. We think of this as working in silos. It is so important to break them and do things together. You can make greater buildings if you start combining materials,” says Julia Ahvenainen, HEAL’s Head of Healthy and Affordable Living, Stora Enso.

“One of the goals of being part of the GPD and Step Change is finding new potential partners. By combining some great technologies, we were able to create a new type of product for the industry,” says Sankara Pillay, CEO, MIMSI Materials.

A legendary Farewell Party to the legend himself
This year’s memorable “Farewell Party” was combined with organizer Jorma Vitkala’s retirement party – and he went out in amazing style.

“This year was literally one of the highest points in my entire life. Although I may have looked utterly horrified when being lifted up by water jets on a flyboard in the lake, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Thank you all – from the bottom of my heart!”

Jorma, as the founding father of this spectacular event, has also touched the hearts of the glass industry by creating this special forum to promote higher glass industry performance. He plans to continue for some time as senior advisor to GPD. And with a twinkle in his eye, confesses to aim to spend only 8 hours a day “at work”.

The future of GPD
“One of my most important roles will be to keep the GPD network going and help different parties find the best partners. Additionally, I will help transfer the contact network I have created on to the next GPD generation,” he says.

Jorma expresses deep-felt gratitude to everyone involved in making GPD the internationally recognized event that it has become over the past 27 years. Thanks to hours of work, dedication and a belief in such a special event, GPD has reached a super-star level of popularity and become the meeting point for industry change.

According to Jorma, expanding your reach and knowledge, networking with new people and keeping your mind open are key to growth: “By sticking to the well-worn path, you become its slave. To achieve new things, you must wade into the virgin snow.”

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