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A magazine on science, technology and business

lighthouse

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World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions

Kati Johansson | 24.5.2017

​​What will the world look like in 2030? How may we help? These are the questions VTT has been examining widely, when seeking new direction for its activities. 

​Building a good and sustainable future has been and will remain the cornerstone of VTT’s operations. In future, research will be increasingly harnessed into finding solutions to major challenges of the future. 

– In our strategy work, we have examined what are the questions for which we should produce answers to in order to ensure that industry, society and all of us would do well. On this basis, we will develop our research agenda and competences to meet the needs of our customers and society as well as possible, says Anne-Christine Ritschkoff, Executive Vice President, Strategic Research, at VTT.  

 
The questions that touch the Finnish society and industry rise from the global mega challenges. According to these challenges, VTT has defined five so-called lighthouses that will steer our long-term operation. The lighthouses for VTT are: 

 
Climate action, Resource sufficiency, Good life, Safety and security and Industrial renewal.

 
– The lighthouses challenge us to think boldly and work together across disciplines, Ritschkoff sums up. 

 
The objective is to turn the challenges of each lighthouse into opportunities that can generate new business and competitiveness for our customers.

 

Solutions across disciplines and industries

VTT’s experts will work together with our customers and other partners to build pathways towards the opportunities indicated by the lighthouses. As a result, shared visions and roadmaps are created.

 
– The plan is to have the opportunity pathways defined for every lighthouse by the end of summer, says Arto Maaninen, Vice President, Research, Knowledge Intensive Products and Services at VTT.

 
Finding solutions to major challenges knows no boundaries between industries or disciplines. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is an example of an emerging technology that is linked with many industries and all the lighthouses.

 
– A.I. is a future factor that also attracts wide national interest. Roadmapping in this field  is already well under way, Maaninen points out. 

 

Vision into a new era

Roadmapping in the lighthouses will accelerate towards the end of the year, but some examples of solutions to tomorrow’s questions can already be given.

 
VTT just published a food economy road­map, which turns the challenges arising from the sufficiency of food production, and human well-being and health into opportunities and solutions. 

 
– The roadmap describes a vision of an era of intelligent, consumer-centric food production. We must solve how to produce healthy food to meet the consumer needs as efficiently as possible, describes Tiina Nakari-Setälä, Vice President, Research, Solutions for natural resources and the environment.

 
Being a large and multi-technology organisation, VTT is well equipped for developing future solutions by combining its competences.  

 
– Disruptive innovations emerge especially at the interfaces between sciences and technologies, Nakari-Setälä announces.

 

Concrete steps for customers

When painting future visions, VTT uses a wide brush, but takes also practical steps in collaboration with the customers. Ritsch­koff considers this to be one of VTT’s special strengths.

 
– Being sufficiently large and well networked, we are capable of detecting what is happening in the operational environment. We belive that we have a profound understanding of both the outside world and the customers’ needs. Basing on this we can both react to changes as well as create change opportunities.

 
Customers have welcomed VTT’s way of looking into the future with the lighthouse approach.

 
– The lighthouses make things more concrete when discussing with customers, making it easier for them to picture what kind of developments can be expected, where they need to be developped, and how VTT can help them, says Kalle Kantola, Vice President, Research, Smart Industry and Energy Systems at VTT.

 
Kantola mentions the Paris Climate Agreement as an example of a major short-term challenge for industry.

 
– Real cuts in, say, greenhouse gas emissions, cannot be achieved without radical and correctly timed reforms. The opportunity pathways help us to make this concrete.

 

No action without impact

Striving for excellence in everything we do is strongly visible in the VTT strategy. Impact is the driving force of all action, and excellence cannot be achieved without top competence.

 
– We need to maintain our high-level competence and produce solutions that differentiate us from others and help our customers to succeed.  International customers, for example, have no other reason to turn to us except the service offering they cannot find elsewhere, Ritschkoff declares.

 
Ritschkoff sees a lot of potential for developing the impact of VTT’s activities, in both customer relationships and at the societal level. The transition in the field of innovation has also made VTT sharpen its position.

 
– Industries face and provoke a lot of important questions right now, for which applied research can offer solutions. We have actively seized such opportunities and made results.

 
In the future, Ritschkoff expects VTT to assume a stronger role as a thought leader.

 
– VTT will surely want to assume a stronger trailblazer role. We definitely have the required competences, even though we are not alone in the innovation sector and the competition is fierce.  

 

 

 

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