TT’s Vice President Erja Turunen says that technology industry plays a significant role in Finnish economy. It accounts for 50% of Finnish exports.
“Technology industry employs 280,000 people directly and 700,000 indirectly, which in total accounts for 30% of the workforce in Finland. Manufacturing industry drives domestic production and the international competitiveness of products and services. This is of benefit for both large enterprises and SMEs, which have great potential. These facts motivated VTT to launch the For industry programme,” Turunen says.
The For Industry programme tackles competitiveness challenges by developing solutions which can be widely exploited by the manufacturing industry in Finland. Competitiveness is built by modern products and production, increased digitalisation and wide utilisation of the industrial internet. The programme makes use of domestic and international networks, alliances and new business models.
Large enterprises tend to adopt new technologies quicker than small businesses. The spearhead programme provides pioneering modules for large enterprises, which act as drivers that attract smaller businesses to their network. SMEs benefit from the pull of a larger enterprise’s brand.
The programme’s technologies are specifically tailored to the needs of the Finnish SME sector and can provide a much needed stimulus for both domestic production and international competitiveness of Finnish products and services.
“To succeed, SMEs need an excellent product or service (or both), efficient production and business processes as well as the ability to identify their own niche on the market to specialise in an area that large enterprises do not occupy. They also need to have solid expertise and ability to stand out,” says Business Development Manager Risto Kuivanen who is managing the programme at VTT.
Key technologies in the programme include the industrial internet, 3D printing (also called Additive Manufacturing or AM technology), automation, robotics and embedded intelligence. The programme has a strong basis in the use of digitalisation from the very start. The budget for the programme is EUR 20 million in 2015.
Wide net cast with project start-offs
VTT has developed a new Project start-off model for SMEs, launching development projects in specific topic areas with SMEs to drive their future growth and success. With these ready-made solution models and methods, the SMEs can react quickly to changes in their operating environment and create new openings by working in cooperation with others.
“We decided to create a tailored offering for SMEs because of the vast variety of SMEs in the manufacturing industry. We grouped ideas together to form a net of sorts to catch themes that we feel are important for the sector. We have organised effective 1.5-hour workshops with SMEs, VTT’s experts and representatives from funding providers. Companies bring their own views to the table, we discuss them and agree on next steps and follow-up,” Kuivanen explains.
VTT organised 10 Project start-off workshops before the summer in different parts of the country for 100 participating companies. Another 10 will be organised towards the end of the year. The aim is to bring between 150 to 200 company participants to the workshops this year.
Kuivanen ensures that any SMEs that have the spark and determination to grow and develop their production or products are welcome to the workshops.
“Working with the SME sector also requires new skills from us. We have taken things on board from Project start-offs and have a better understanding of the needs and business of SMEs. A customer-oriented approach and sales are our key skills,” Risto Kuivanen emphasises.
Competitive leap boosted by EUR 40 million
A major event in the programme took place this autumn when VTT and the Tampere University of Technology launched the Smart Machines and Manufacturing Competence Centre (SMACC), the most significant centre of its kind in Finland. The annual volume of the competence centre is EUR 40 million in total.
The centre aims to boost the potential, competitiveness and exports of Finnish manufacturing industry. SMEs and their profitability take centre stage.
The competitive leap will be implemented with smart machines and is driven by cooperation that leverages new technologies. These include smart machines, production and manufacturing technologies, robotics, the industrial internet, digitalisation as well as additive manufacturing, such as 3D technology.
More power through cooperation
The SMACC operating model adopted by VTT and Tampere University of Technology is based on agile virtual teams that support quick experimentation and straightforward problem solving. Networking with Finnish universities and key international partners together with deeper cooperation with other domestic operators is vital to achieve commercial breakthroughs quickly. This will open up completely new business models for SMEs.
VTT’s Vice President Erja Turunen says that VTT has solid expertise in technology foresight and business, effective infrastructure and research cooperation networks as well as direct access to parties in Finland and international partners.
“It is important to cast a wide net in terms of cooperation – we cannot go at it alone. Our spearhead programme is also actively creating a community of researches in Finland. Good examples include the SMACC cooperation with the Tampere University of Technology and the Pirkanmaa region as well as the new partner models we are developing with Finpro. As an important international strategic partner, we have deepened our cooperation with Tecnalia in Spain, which is actively involved in programmes such as Horizon 2020,” Turunen says, considering stakeholder involvement in the For Industry spearhead programme.
COME AND JOIN US AT A PROJECT WORKSHOP!
More information on the project start-off schedules and themes as well as registration is available here: www.vtt.fi/palvelut/palvelut-pk-yrityksille/
New theme workshops will be available soon on the following topics: automated product design, utilisation of user and customer experience, SME networking, strategy process, risk foresight, possibilities of augmented reality as well as durable components.
For more information, please contact:
Risto Kuivanen: For Industry programme and cooperation between VTT and Tampere University of Technology.
Erja Turunen: Ecosystems (stakeholder involvement)
Tiina Apilo: SME project start-offs.
Product development the key for growth at Sandbox
Clean indoor air inspired Sandbox to develop new products. The company is set to launch a new, practically silent device that can reduce particles in indoor air by as much as 80 per cent.
“Our Sisäilmalähetti (‘Indoor Air Messenger’) service provides first aid at premises with indoor air problems, by temporarily protecting the users while the issue is fixed,” explains Sandbox CEO and Service Developer Jani Moberg.
“Knowledge of the performance of the air-purification devices used in our service is vital for us,” he emphasises.
Moberg founded the company 10 years ago after personal experience with indoor air problems.
Demand for the service is the greatest in the public sector, where indoor air problems have an impact on the effectiveness of organisations as well as the productive use of premises. Many schools, daycare centres and hospitals need the service.
On a mission to ensure clean indoor air for everyone
Sandbox aspires to become the best in the sector, which means a systematic approach to product development.
“People are at the core of our operations. Our mission is to protect children and adults from poor indoor air. In our service and product development, we are specifically interested in the value, benefit and experience related to indoor air. To this end, we collect feedback from facility managers and users, innovate and develop new service models constantly,” Moberg says.
“We aim to be in the forefront of our sector, globally. This marks a significant strategic decision as we did not initially have in-house R&D operations and have so far only operated in the domestic market. In line with our new strategy, we have entered the world of R&D and aim at global markets.”
For most of its existence, Sandbox has worked in cooperation with VTT. Among other things, VTT has tested the particle separation, gas filtration and air cleaning ability and by-pass flows of the air cleaning devices used in Sandbox’s Sisäilmalähetti services.
“Our current R&D project with VTT started two years ago when we licensed a patent developed by VTT. The next step was to develop and launch a commercial product that cleans indoor air,” Moberg explains.
“The innovation patented by VTT and our commercial vision have been the cornerstones of our R&D. In terms of development, it is important to understand what high-quality and clean indoor air is, and aim to produce it effectively. Long-term cooperation provides results: in the case of Sandbox and VTT, it means securing more patents in the near future.”
New product to be launched in early 2016
According to Sandbox CEO Moberg, the R&D project makes Sandbox better equipped to implement its mission and provide new service solutions.
“We have leveraged VTT’s versatile top expertise in the project, which has accelerated our own processes. Demanding areas that required special expertise included sound phenomena related to structural design.”
“The air diffuser that cleans indoor air developed by Sandbox and VTT offers a new solution to indoor air problems. It reduces the number of particles in indoor air by as much as 80%, is practically silent and consumes very little energy, only a few watts,” says Moberg.
The placement of the device is different from traditional free-standing devices: It is installed in the ceiling, with only a sleek front panel visible to the users of the facility. The air diffuser that cleans indoor air is connected to the intake air channel, which allows the device to use the pressure in the channel.
“The operating method, structure and filtering technology of the device contain unique innovations and ambition that are strongly guided by our vision of better indoor air quality,” Moberg says.
Growth in China
With the new innovation, Sandbox is ready to expand its operations abroad. China in particular is an interesting target market as indoor air quality problems are commonplace there.
“We have recruited two new employees due to the project. We expect to see both our personnel and net sales grow further in both Finland and China. We believe that we have what it takes to think big and achieve great things. We can complement the key product with other products and service business,” Moberg says.
“The ceiling-mounted air diffuser that cleans indoor air offers a new solution to indoor air problems,” Jani Moberg says. Photos: Ari Ijäs and Sandbox.
SANDBOX: FIRST AID FOR INDOOR AIR PROBLEMS
- Company that is entering global markets.
- Known for the Sisäilmalähetti (‘Indoor Air Messenger’) service that temporarily protects people from harmful indoor air.
- Customers include municipalities, cities, schools, day care centres and hospitals.
- Net sales of EUR 2.2 million.
- Headquarters in Tampere, office in Vantaa.
- Received 1st honorary mention in the Pirkanmaa INNOSUOMI innovation competition in 2011.