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Reorganised research centre moves to Otaniemi

Pekka Jauho becomes Director-in-Chief

Director-in-Chief Edward Wegelius’s long career at VTT came to an end when he retired in 1970. His successor was Professor Pekka Jauho. The directors appointed to head the research departments at that time also represented a new generation.

New administrative model – three research divisions

The proposal for VTT’s new administrative model was approved by Parliament at the end of November 1971. The new organisation, which was restructured as a research centre, began operating in the following year. The reorganised research centre consisted of three research divisions: the Division for Building Technology and Community Development, the Division for Materials and Process Technology, and the Division for Electrical and Atomic Technology.

Speed limits introduced on the basis of VTT studies

In the 1970s the energy crisis and increased public awareness of environmental issues in Finland brought VTT more research topics. They fitted in well with Professor Jauho’s thinking on research policy. VTT was also involved in finding solutions for other societal problems. For example, the number of road traffic accident fatalities began to rise alarmingly in the 1960s. At that time over a thousand lives a year were being lost in traffic accidents. VTT started to study the problem and found that the number of accidents could be reduced significantly by imposing speed limits. The studies led to general speed limits ranging from 80-120 km per hour being introduced in Finland.

Fermentor sheds light on biotechnical processes

In the mid-1970s the Biotechnology Laboratory acquired a Finnish-made pilot fermentor. This was used to study biotechnical processes such as the production of microbial enzymes, antibiotics and single-cell proteins.

Corrosion conditions at nuclear power plants are simulated

A major step forward was made in corrosion studies in the 1970s when an autoclave equipped with a recirculating loop was designed and constructed at VTT. This piece of equipment made it possible to simulate the actual corrosion conditions of nuclear power plants. 

VTT’s main building moves to Otaniemi

By 1970 most of VTT’s laboratories had been relocated into new premises at Otaniemi, although some functions did remain in Helsinki. VTT was given the use of 200,000 cubic metres of research space at Otaniemi. VTT’s red brick buildings were designed by Alvar Aalto’s architectural office. VTT’s main building (photo) was completed at Otaniemi in 1975. VTT also grew regionally in the 1970s and 1980s, with new laboratories being set up in Oulu, Tampere, Jyväskylä and Outokumpu.

State funding and commercial research are separated

Even though VTT’s studies brought savings for society, the research centre itself slid into a budgetary crisis which came to a head in 1977. The crisis was not resolved until the Ministry of Finance included the extra appropriations required for VTT’s activities into the 1978 additional budget. As a consequence of this, state funding and commercial research were separated from one another. However, this led to public controversy over VTT’s status and organisation.

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