The engine of our export industry has stalled and our productivity has fallen. At the same time, high-tech products are developed in Finland, well placed to become the new engine for our export sector.
“What we need now is renewed structures in our society and economy to bring our competitiveness to a level that allows us to maintain the high-quality of our education and infrastructure and look after the welfare of our fellow human beings at least at the current level,” says the Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.
“We need to adopt a new type of agreement culture in the labour market and to improve the competitiveness of labour and production in Finland.”
We need to renew our expertise, products and services
According to the Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn, we must specialise into roles in global value networks that require high-level education and expertise.
“We also need to develop our commercialisation process further to make it faster and more effective by working together. While this is something companies will need to do, public actors such as the Team Finland network can help.”
“We have many opportunities for turning Finnish strengths into commercial success stories. However, growth must be based on solutions that have a high ROI. To identify such solutions, Finland is allocating a great deal of resources to R&D&I operations in the framework of the OECD and EU.”
“The government’s spearhead programmes aim to maximise the benefits of such projects. Initiatives such as Research Benefit and Innovation Scout accelerate the utilisation of research results. The Challenge Finland programme will kick off in 2016, seeking boldly different solutions.”
“We are directing R&D&I investments to the SME sector because new jobs are currently being created by companies with fewer than 50 employees.”
Better utilisation of research funding
According to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn, VTT has been the flagship of technological development and innovation in Finland since 1942.
“The corporatisation of VTT in early 2015 challenges the management and research scientists to adopt a new kind of operational culture. VTT is expected to be agile and proactive so as to quickly adapt to changes in its operating environment.”
The state of our national economy forces the public sector and businesses and research institutes alike to find new ways to renew our economy.
“However, public funding of education, research and innovation remains at a significant level. Aware of the need to be thrifty, the government aims to ensure optimal utilisation of research funding.”
“It is vital research institutes such as VTT that spearhead multi-technological development support companies’ business development and thus create new growth.”
“Public funding can provide incentives to innovate and renew, but at the end of the day, the responsibility for renewal and maintenance of competitiveness lies with the companies themselves. Cuts in public funding force VTT to make well-informed decisions and adjust operations according to demand.”
Rehn sees VTT as the organisation best placed to establish a clear link between its research operations and actual technological and other development needs of businesses. VTT is a partner that cooperates with other research institutes and universities, but also competes with them to a degree. VTT also has to be able to compete on the global markets by focusing on areas where it can succeed.
“In my opinion, VTT has two special strengths: firstly, it employs a skilled research staff with a strong network of international contacts and secondly, as a multidisciplinary research institute, VTT is better equipped to quickly build research teams to tackle customer-specific problems for businesses and other customers. A solution- and customer-oriented approach is at the very core of VTT’s research service development.”
VTT’s operations aligned with our national strategy
According to Olli Rehn, VTT’s main business areas are well aligned with our national strategic areas, such as bioeconomy, clean solutions, cleantech, digital economy and the health sector.
“This is of great benefit to VTT. These are the sectors in which Finland has an opportunity to introduce significant new business openings to boost our economic growth.”
“Our current situation highlights the importance of cooperation between Finnish research institutes and universities. We should try to avoid allocating public funding to too many overlapping functions.”
Of all new information, less than 0.5 per cent is created in Finland. It is vital to network with international top experts.
“VTT is in an excellent position to build bridges between businesses and international value networks. VTT’s connections with top international research scientists gives us access to the latest research data. Research consortia are a source of new partners and customers to businesses. They are a platform from which we can showcase our expertise to international enterprises so that they can make informed decisions about investing in Finland.”
Could Finland become a pioneer in the bioeconomy and circular economy?
Bioeconomy remains a cornerstone of our economy. Our forests are a solid foundation for sustainable growth of bioeconomy.
“The transition from fossil economy to bioeconomy is part of the new wave of economic development, and Finland is well equipped to become a pioneer in bioeconomy in Europe,” Rehn says.
“Innovations in bioeconomy require world-class expertise, research and product development, and the joining of forces from several industries and expertise areas. New solutions must be thoroughly tested, piloted and demonstrated. However, not all companies have the resources for this – and this applies to SMEs in particular.”
“Finland is well equipped to become a pioneer in bioeconomy in Europe,” says Olli Rehn.
Bioruukki – VTT’s new pilot centre
VTT is in the process of constructing the Bioruukki piloting centre in Espoo. It provides businesses with a small-scale platform for the development and demonstration of biomass utilisation. Bioruukki is supported by the almost 500 experts working at VTT and the Otaniemi campus.
It is the first world-class pilot centre in Finland where also SMEs can test and develop their products.
“VTT’s Bioruukki fills a gap in the market. We need SMEs alongside our forestry giants to develop new products and solutions that help us utilise our national resources,” Rehn emphasises.
“Cooperation between forestry and chemical industry and other industries is one practical way forward. Finnish bio raw materials only account for a small portion of the global biomass, and we should not neglect to patent our expertise, protect our IPR, and identify other commercial opportunities for it.”
“Bioruukki is an excellent example of a promising new type of piloting environment that can attract foreign investments to Finland.”
“Finland is not the only country aspiring to become a pioneer in bioeconomy. We are competing against countries such as Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany that have made significant investments into similar demonstration environments. Bioruukki is built to place Finland firmly at the forefront of the European (forest) bioeconomy piloting network.”
“We must develop new business models for bioeconomy alongside new technologies. Deeper cooperation with schools of economics would be a good starting point for this. It is also important to make sure that Bioruukki networks with other European pilot centres, establishing new European contacts for our businesses,” the Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn concludes.