VTT engages in research cooperation with three main objectives: to increase innovation-driven investment in Finland, reshape industrial and commercial business activities and create added value and jobs in Finland. Domestic and international cooperation within larger RDI communities gives VTT a prospect to promote solutions to grand challenges of the society.
VTT plays a key role in national innovation partnerships. In its strategy, VTT emphasises the intensification and stepping up of proactive cooperation in areas considered critical to Finland, alongside national and international research institutes, universities and other higher education institutions, and the business sector. VTT has implemented its strategy by building a strong network of RDI operators that enhances the use of Finnish research and development resources, while clarifying the division of roles between VTT and other actors.
VTT has promoted the objectives of Finland's growth growth strategy areas: the bioeconomy, cleantech, digitalisation and health. VTT has built thematic centres of expertise based on the strengths of stakeholders and complementary competencies, combining academic with applied research all the way to commercial product development aiming to reduce the fragmentation of RDI activities. Built around the bioeconomy, the partnership between Aalto University and VTT is a good example of this. In addition to normal project collaboration, this partnership includes joint research programmes, joint research infrastructures funded by the Academy of Finland and joint professorships. Another concrete example is the SMACC alliance between VTT and Tampere University of Technology, which is seeking more effective commercialisation and leveraging of research into intelligent manufacturing technology. A special focus of this alliance involves championing the innovation capabilities and regeneration of SMEs in the sector. The third concrete example is the PrintoCent community, a unique innovation centre based in Oulu which focuses on printed intelligence and optical measurement technology; several new companies have been established as a result. PrintoCent's founding members are VTT, the University of Oulu, the Oulu University of Applied Sciences and Business Oulu.
Maintaining the national knowledge base, and developing it further, requires active networking beyond scientific disciplines as well as cooperation across world-class innovation ecosystems.
VTT has been highly successful in acquiring international research funding. VTT was engaged in 445 international public RDI projects in 2015. European programmes lie at the heart of VTT's international research. In 2015, 242 projects under the Seventh Framework Programme (2007–2013) were underway, and 60 completely new projects had started under the Horizon 2020 programme.
The Horizon 2020 programme (2014–2020) is part of implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy in areas such as employment, research and innovation, climate change and energy, education and the elimination of poverty.
VTT's contributions to H2020 have mainly been in ICT, nanotechnology and biotechnology areas of the industrial leadership pillar (Pillar 2), as well as raw materials, energy and climate challenges in the social challenges pillar (Pillar 3). Industry partners have contributed a share of 53% to the H2020 project portfolio in which VTT is involved.
VTT focused very strongly on the first H2020 calls and has maintained its position as the single largest recipient of EU research funding in Finland, as well as remaining a significant player at European level. In H2020, VTT has sought participation in those projects that will boost the competitiveness and renewal of industrial value chains in Europe and strengthen regional innovation ecosystems and their cross-border networking. This requires participation in extensive networks and long-term preparatory work, particularly in Finland's and Europe's research, innovation, industrial and regional policy sectors.
Cooperation with various networks and communities is required in order to influence European RDI policy priorities and programmes. VTT has been active in roadmap forums relevant to industry, such as European Technology Platforms ¬communities (VTT is involved in more than 20 industry-led ETP communities), the PPP communities (Public Private Partnerships, in particular, SPIRE, Photonics, BigData, E2B, FoF, ECSEL and BBI), the EIP initiatives (European Innovation Partnerships between the Member States, particularly with respect to raw materials, smart cities and water). In addition, VTT has been involved in official advisory groups for the European Commission and has played a key role in numerous research institute partnerships and alliances, as well as two European Institute of Innovation and Technology innovation clusters (EIT KIC Digital and EIT KIC Raw Materials). VTT has weighed in at the level of information exchange in Finland, as well as training, creating joint visions, joint advocacy and EU project collaboration.
Principal European RTO alliances and expert groups for VTT
EARTO – European Association of Research and Technology Organisations
EERA – The European Energy Research Association
EIT Digital – European Institute of Innovation & Technology
EIT Raw Materials - European Institute of Innovation & Technology
JIIP – Joint Institute for Innovation Policy
VTT in Finnish research alliances and
Finnish Bioeconomy Panel
FSA - The Finnish Service Alliance
PrintoCent Innovation Centre for Printed Electronics
FIIF – Finnish Industrial Internet Forum
SMACC – Smart Machines and Manufacturing Competence Centre
SHOKs – Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation
VTT in the Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence
Finnish CoE in Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) (2012 - 2017)
Finnish CoE in Low Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices (2012 - 2017)
Finnish CoE in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials (2014 - 2019)