VTT's research programmes support the business sector and society
VTT supports businesses and society through innovative research programmes. These provide solutions to major economic and social challenges on a 3–10 year horizon. The objective is to achieve major sectoral breakthroughs and technological leaps forward in one or more sectors and disciplines. VTT is currently running eight research programmes: Bioeconomy Transformation, Productivity Leap with Internet of Things, For Industry, Smart Mobility Integrated with Low Carbon Energy, Critical Technologies Towards 5G, Safe and Sustainable Nuclear Energy, Mineral Economy and Intelligent Energy systems and Regions.
The Bioeconomy Transformation research programme is helping to implement Finland's national bioeconomy strategy, by transforming and raising the profitability of the country's biomass-based sector. To this end, technologies have been developed for biomass processing and for the new biomass-based value chains – in which forest and agrobiomasses are processed into food, fibre products, materials, chemicals and biofuels – enabled by such technologies. Concept calculation, industrial symbiosis, business model research and socioeconomic studies are closely linked with value-chain-based research. The integration of ICT-based applications with the bioeconomy is an important element of the programme and the Bioruukki piloting ecosystem is an important source of support. Solutions generated by the programme are creating new business in Finland and international markets.
Industrial internet and IoT (IoT)
The industrial internet and IoT are key disruptive market forces in Finland and globally. They offer Finland an opportunity to to foster new growth and become more competitive, and thereby capture more value creation. The Productivity leap with Internet of Things (IoT) programme involves the creation – and adoption by companies – of IoT solutions that provide a competitive edge. It also helps industry to sharpen its competitiveness by redefining its business models, networks and practices, and promotes the retention and strengthening of Finland's manufacturing industry. Target areas include equipment and machine management, networked sensors, ICT and health, information management and processing in support of decision-making, intelligent infrastructures, an IoT service for the digital society, business breakthroughs and IoT telecommunications solutions. This will enable us to create new jobs and a framework for new investments, provide current and forthcoming domestic companies with a basis for operating globally from Finland, and help companies succeed in industrial markets in transition.
Smart Mobility Integrated with Low Carbon Energy
A holistic approach and the introduction of new technologies are the key to setting our transport system on the path of sustainable development. The Smart Mobility Integrated with Low Carbon Energy programme has seen the development of new solutions and services in intelligent transport, and in the low-carbon energy, low-emission and energy-efficient vehicle sectors. Pilot projects have led to the adoption of new technologies. Areas of research include cost-effective, system-level solutions for increasing energy efficiency and improving transport services, enabling the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable, low-carbon alternatives. In addition, new concepts have been created in traffic information technology solutions and services, the end-use of biofuels and electric commercial vehicles. The programme involves the creation of a smoothly functioning, cost-effective and environmentally friendly transport system development platform that provides new business models, services and products meeting the needs of various actors in the transport sector. The results can be utilised in a rapid time frame, which will increase companies' business opportunities and Finland's competitiveness.
The technology industry is and will continue to be of huge direct and indirect importance to Finland's business sector. The SME sector in particular has considerable potential. To maintain and strengthen Finland's competitiveness, we develop technological solutions which can be used throughout Finland's manufacturing industry. The For Industry programme focuses on leveraging digitalisation. Key technologies in achieving this include the industrial internet, Additive Manufacturing or AM technology, automation, robotics and embedded intelligence. We use widely exploitable technologies suitable for the Finnish SME sector, to provide a much-needed boost to domestic production and the international competitiveness of Finland's products and services.
Critical Technologies Towards 5G
Over the next decade, wireless communications are set to grow 1,000-fold and the number of wireless devices 100-fold. This will be extremely challenging due to the required frequency spectrum and more stringent energy efficiency requirements. At the same time, society is becoming increasingly dependent on wireless communications. The Critical Technologies Towards 5G programme is enabling better use of digitalisation, by developing technologies regarded as critical as we move into the fifth-generation mobile communication system, 5G. Optimised radio and network resource management methods, air interfaces that improve spectrum use and energy efficiency, intelligent network management solutions, and advanced RF i.e. electronics and antenna solutions, are among the results of the programme. Such technologies will lead to benefits such as the greater reliability and energy efficiency needed to achieve the desired data speeds. They will also enable the implementation of a 5G mobile communication system and help Finnish companies to achieve leading positions in new business areas.
Safe and Sustainable Nuclear Energy
Safety requirements concerning reactor safety and the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel have become much more stringent in Finland and elsewhere. The Safe and Sustainable Nuclear Energy programme focuses on responding to these growing safety requirements. Its activities are supported by the new Nuclear Safety House being built in Otaniemi and participation in the international Jules Horowitz Reactor Research project, coordinated by the CEA, at Cadarache in France. As a carbon-dioxide free energy source, nuclear energy has an important role to play in reducing global emissions.
To ensure the availability of minerals, we need to recover the small amounts of valuable materials contained in waste and industrial side streams (e.g. mining residues, metal industry slag, combustion plants, ash, construction waste, electronic waste) and find substitute materials for industry-critical metals such as cobalt, chromium, magnesium, platinum group metals and rare earth metals. New technologies and concepts for the recovery and recycling of metals and other minerals have been developed under the Mineral Economy programme. In addition, raw material circulation and material efficiency have been improved through material planning, product design and innovative manufacturing techniques. VTT is an active participant in European raw material sector communities, particularly as a member of the EIT Raw Materials consortium.
Intelligent Energy Systems and Smart Cities
Energy systems and cities face the common challenge of reducing their environmental impact and carbon footprint, while ensuring business continuity and that cities continue to provide an attractive residential environment. The Intelligent Energy Systems and Smart Cities programme has enabled the creation of new solutions for cities, builders, energy companies and organisations in charge of merging systems, by bringing VTT's expertise in ICT, energy, electronics and the built environment to the development of the energy networks and cities of tomorrow. Key objectives include the demonstration of a zero-energy zone model, the development of information technology solutions for the integration of electric vehicles with the urban power grid, and the creation of the necessary communications alongside an intelligent energy network. The programme is creating solutions for future energy systems and smart cities.