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International and domestic cooperation

VTT Review 2016

Domestic and international cooperation within larger RDI communities gives VTT a chance to promote solutions to grand challenges of the society. VTT is closely linked to European innovation initiatives.

Domestic cooperation 

VTT plays a key role in national innovation partnerships and the building of networks. In its strategy, VTT emphasises more intensive, closer and proactive cooperation in areas considered critical to Finland, alongside national and international research institutes, universities and other higher education institutions, and the business sector. VTT has implemented its strategy through a strong network of R&D&I operators that enhances the use of Finnish research and development resources, while clarifying the division of duties between VTT and other actors.

VTT has been helping to achieve the objectives of Finland's growth strategy (in the strategy's main areas: the bio-economy, cleantech, digitalisation and health). VTT aims to reduce the fragmentation of R&D&I activities, by promoting the formation of subject-focused centres of expertise. The aim is cooperation based on supplementing the strengths and expertise of the actors involved, and combining academic with applied research all the way through to commercial product development. Built around the bioeconomy, the partnership between Aalto University and VTT is a good example of this. In addition to normal project collaboration, such partnerships include a joint research infrastructure funded by the Academy of Finland (bioeconomy infra), and joint professorships. Another concrete example is the SMACC alliance between VTT and Tampere University of Technology, which is seeking the more effective commercialisation and leveraging of research into intelligent manufacturing technology. A special focus of this alliance involves championing the innovation capabilities and regeneration of SMEs in the sector. The third concrete example is the PrintoCent community, a unique innovation centre based in Oulu which focuses on printed intelligence and optical measurement technology; several new companies have been established as a result. PrintoCent's founding members are VTT, the University of Oulu, the Oulu University of Applied Sciences and Business Oulu.

In Finland, VTT engages in active cooperation between stakeholders (ministries, research funding agencies, industry associations, universities and colleges, research institutes, municipal and regional administration) in order to foster regular information flows and a common vision of Finland's priority areas.

European cooperation

VTT's risk-taking ability and broad technology portfolio have created the basis for its participation in international cooperation. In today's world, networking, cooperation and combined competencies are needed to develop Finland's national knowledge base. In 2016, VTT was engaged in 460 (2015: 445) international public research projects. Joint European (H2020, FP7, CIP, RFCS, EIT, Art 185, ERA-Net, Eureka, Euratom, ESA, NORDFORSK) programmes form the core of VTT's international research activities. Extensive networks, positive visibility and active involvement in EU projects can provide an important springboard for Finnish innovation. VTT's EU project portfolio consists of a number of multi-year programmes and various funding instruments requiring a strong command of funding rules and contract law. EU's research and innovation framework programme is most significant in terms of volume.

The Horizon 2020 Programme is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy in areas such as employment, research and innovation, climate change and energy, education and the elimination of poverty. H2020 is important for VTT. By the end of 2016, VTT had altogether 142 positive funding agreements in H2020 and 111 H2020 projects (2015: 60) were running at VTT in 2016. VTT is active in the Industrial Leadership Pillar (Pillar 2) ICT, nanotechnologies, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and processing, and biotechnology – and in the Societal Challenges Pillar (Pillar 3) involving raw materials, energy and climate challenges. In spite of extreme competition, VTT has maintained its position as a major player in Europe and Finland's largest recipient of the EU research funding.

VTT works in close collaboration with industry and in our H2020 projects we highlight the renewal of industrial value chains and sustainable competitiveness in Finland and Europe. To achieve these objectives, VTT is making a major contribution to the development activities of regional innovation ecosystems and networking between local centres of expertise. VTT is playing a key role in forming a Finnish approach to the strategic initiative, launched by the Commission in 2016, for the development of Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) networks at EU level.

Long-term cooperation with various networks and communities is required in order to be part of priority-setting in European RDI policy and programmes. VTT is active in industry-relevant forums, such as ETPs (European Technology Platforms) and PPPs (Public Private Partnerships, particularly Photonics, BigData, Robotics, CyberSecurity, FoF, SPIRE, E2B, ECSEL, BBI and FCH). VTT is also involved in three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Digital, EIT Raw Materials and EIT Food). The common vision of European RTOs (Research and Technology Organisations) is being promoted via active participation in EARTO (European Association of Research and Technology Organisations). VTT takes a constructive approach in stakeholder dialogue with European Institutions, examining issues in a broad innovation policy context across traditional administrative boundaries.


Principal European RTO alliances and expert groups for VTT

  • EARTO – European Association of Research and Technology Organisations
  • EERA – The European Energy Research Association
  • EIT Digital – European Institute of Innovation & Technology
  • EIT Raw Materials - European Institute of Innovation & Technology
  • JIIP – Joint Institute for Innovation Policy


VTT in Finnish research alliances and co-operation forums

  • Finnish Bioeconomy Panel
  • FSA - The Finnish Service Alliance
  • PrintoCent Innovation Centre for Printed Electronics
  • FIIF – Finnish Industrial Internet Forum
  • SMACC – Smart Machines and Manufacturing Competence Centre


VTT in the Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence

  • Finnish CoE in Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) (2012 - 2017)
  • Finnish CoE in Low Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices (2012 - 2017)
  • Finnish CoE in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials (2014 - 2019)