VTT's first year after its incorporation was successful, both financially and in terms of impact. Demand for research was brisk in all business areas, with some areas even experiencing a labour shortage. The first phase of Bioruukki, the largest Nordic bioeconomy research environment, was commissioned. Bioruukki enables the more rapid commercialisation of bioeconomy innovations. Concerns about cuts in public research funding dominated the national technology and innovation policy debate. Both VTT Group and the parent company recorded an operating profit.
VTT has had a challenging operating environment for many years, despite tentative signs of recovery in the Finnish business sector. The Finnish economy has yet to return to robust growth and R&D investments are at a standstill after several years of structural transition in the industrial sector. In public discussions, high hopes have been vested in new types of business operations and the growth of service exports. Digitalisation, cleantech, the bioeconomy and well-being and health were defined as national technology development priorities in the Finnish Government Programme. These themes are a precise fit with the technologies chosen by VTT, which is playing a key role in building growth and well-being in Finland.
VTT has been highly successful in competing for international research funding. It was involved in 445 international public research projects in 2015. VTT made a very strong effort in the initial EU Horizon 2020 programme application rounds. So far, it has maintained its position as the largest single recipient of EU research funding in Finland, as well as remaining a significant player at European level. Funding of this kind and multinational research networks will play a very strong role in the future.
Business orders increased from the previous year, both as a share of turnover and in terms of the total sum invoiced. Based on an increase of over EUR 2 million, European customers accounted for the sharpest rise in cross-border invoicing.
VTT has built a research and piloting centre for biomass refining in Kivenlahti, Espoo. Bioruukki offers companies an outstanding opportunity to create new technologies and fulfil the aims of the national bioeconomy strategy. It operates in priority cleantech areas for Finland: bioenergy, the manufacture of valuable products (such as biochemicals) from biomass, and recycling. Key project funding was granted by the Finnish Government for the further development of Bioruukki.
For VTT, publishing research results on premium forums is a key way of stepping up its impact. In 2015, a total of 614 VTT articles were published in scientific journals. Of these articles, 70% involved at least one external partner and 43% at least one foreign partner.
We were also highly active in inventions and patenting. Our IPR revenue reached a record level of EUR 2.8 million. Noteworthy licensed intellectual property rights include technology solutions for the processing of oats and production of bio-oil. 48 patent applications were filed on the basis of inventions and 292 new invention notifications were made.
VTT Ventures Ltd's investments in spin-offs, whose business is based on technology developed by VTT, provide a route for the commercialisation of research results. Its portfolio included 21 companies by the end of the year, which accumulated around EUR 8.2 million in new capital.
VTT Expert Services Ltd launched the new vtt-todistus.fi certification search service and the Omasertifikaatti.fi eServices ¬portal. We are continuously developing our service portfolio, proactively adapting it to changing customer needs to leverage the potential of digitalisation, for example.
President & CEO