Aiming for top speeds both in 100-metre dash and ultramarathon

Blog post
Mika Toikka

We intend to turn a marathon runner into a sprinter as well. I personally believe that this is the most beneficial and value-adding approach for our customers.

There is no going back in time, and the pace at which things are done keeps on accelerating. It feels as if you would need to constantly renew yourself only to stand still. The global mobility of information, talent, commodities and money requires rapid action and immediate reaction to changes on the market. The challenges faced by the whole planet, technological development, customer needs and new business opportunities fuel one another and develop in a symbiosis.

In an operating environment like this, you must be able to create something new by means of agile iteration, in collaboration with your customers and other stakeholders. In the same breath, I must point out that scientific research and innovations stemming from it do not happen overnight. New research results, inventions and, finally, commercial products are created through systematic trial and error, in other words, they seldom arrive as express deliveries or offer a fast lane to success.

Here lies the most significant challenge for VTT’s applied research activities or applied research in general: how to combine, on one hand, research that often takes years to complete and, on the other, the changes of direction and fast trials the world developing at an accelerating speed requires? As an answer I suggest deep, long-term partnerships and also cooperation within innovation ecosystems.

In collaboration with companies, we can develop research results all the way into pre-commercial prototypes and pilots. Research work does not need to be a project executed according to a waterfall model, which proceeds from theory through “laboratory work” to experimental validation. Instead, in our projects we want to collaborate in such a manner that we can take maximum advantage of the feedback and the views expressed by our customers and their customers.

Many people do not know that VTT is also a commercial actor. We work a lot in commercial projects owned by our customers. Even in projects like these, our scientific competence is the starting point, but in addition we need ability to link our own work directly to the customer’s processes and management practices. When we succeed, we create a top-quality customer experience and reach the defined targets together. Here, we still have a lot to learn, but we are extremely eager to improve and develop ourselves.

Sometimes I hear that a company would like to choose VTT as its partner, because it knows that we have the best substance expertise for the challenge at hand, but they still decide to go with another partner. The reason they have given me is that VTT is a too bureaucratic and slow as an organisation. We are still working on having this largely outdated image of VTT modified. The ball is in our court, and we are making our best efforts to have this conception updated. Our goal is to transform ourselves from a public agency to an agile operator, also in the minds of our customers.

Without its world-class research competence VTT would not be a valuable partner to its customers. We must not forget this valuable asset of ours. However, to support it, we need to adopt various new agile and customer-centric practices like VTT Design. Upon these two dimensions, we build our “beyond the obvious” promise, and we provide something else than the conventional solutions.

We have registered for both the 100-meter sprint and the ultramarathon, and we have decided to succeed in both.

Mika Toikka

Mika Toikka

Executive Vice President