Impact metrics show VTT’s benefits to society

Blog post
Tuula Hämäläinen
Measuring tape on a table

VTT measures its impact with strategic KPI metrics. The results of these indicators from recent years show that VTT has contributed to the success of Finnish companies and society. In the eyes of customers and stakeholders, VTT is a reliable and technologically competent partner that promotes the emergence and market entry of new innovations. VTT’s loyal customers have fared better than the control group, and VTT’s reputation has continued to improve in recent years.

We focus on impact and excellence, so we measure them

In line with our strategy, VTT’s KPI metrics depict VTT’s excellence and impact on both society and customers. The indicators aim to describe the impact of RDI work in a multidimensional way, unlike traditional, purely quantitative metrics.

We measure impact through surveys, our own customer data and external company databases. Excellence is needed for impact to materialise. In an organisation like VTT, that is represented by competence and resource metrics, such as the number of high-quality scientific articles. The basis for all operations and impact is healthy finances, which we measure by the development of turnover and the order back log, as well as by the utilisation rate of the research infrastructure.

The preparation and practical monitoring of qualitative metrics is challenging with limited resources, so they continue to be developed all the time. However, all metrics strive to be objective and provide both an impartial and reliable picture of our operations. 

The impact model and the corresponding metrics were developed at the beginning of the current strategy period in 2016–2017, with results from a few years now available. Some of the metrics are updated annually or even less frequently, so results should not be looked at in the short term.

VTT promotes the commercialisation of innovations

VTT continues to be involved in the development of almost one third of new Finnish innovations. This is evident from the Sfinno study, which has been conducted as a press review and survey since 1985. Professional journals have been analysed since as early as 1945. VTT’s stake in Finnish innovations has decreased somewhat in recent years, but our role is still significant.

VTT also promotes the development of society through innovation ecosystems. Six impact stories have been published on these ecosystems and VTT’s investment in them over the past year. These stories describe our diverse role in promoting systemic change and show, among other things, how VTT has been developing synthetic biology as well as smart energy and transport solutions.

Social responsibility is an important cornerstone of our operations. We measure our external image with regard to social responsibility using the “Reputation & Trust” survey, the results of which have improved in recent years and are very good.

VTT helps customers succeed

We use surveys and background data to investigate VTT’s impact on customers’ competence levels, growth, the development of long-term customers’ turnover, as well as VTT’s impact on companies’ access to international networks.

In a customer feedback survey, in addition to basic satisfaction, we ask customers how VTT has impacted their operations. One question concerns VTT’s role in the development of the company’s own competence. In recent years, 90% of the respondents have felt that VTT has contributed to the improvement of the company’s competence level. VTT therefore supports the development of Finnish technology in a longer term than the duration of individual research projects.

The most loyal customers are more successful: we have studied the change in the turnover of significant and loyal Finnish customers (customers for more than the last five years) and compared it with a control group. The result obtained is positive: the development of these customers’ turnover has been better than that of the control group. The metric does not confirm cause-and-effect relationships, but it is an objective result based on public financial statements.

In addition to the customer feedback survey, we investigate customer impact with a separate customer impact survey. VTT’s importance for Finnish companies’ access to international markets is still very significant, although it has decreased somewhat in recent years. Other results of this survey, too, include VTT’s high-quality competence and the versatile usefulness of cooperation. VTT has received a very good overall rating, and the majority of the respondents would recommend VTT as a partner.

Excellence is the basis of operations

VTT’s competence and especially scientific excellence are the basis of all operations, which is also reflected in customer feedback and stakeholder surveys. VTT employees publish around 500 peer-reviewed scientific articles every year, and the quality of these articles has clearly improved over the past year. VTT’s excellence metric also includes patent applications and the share of PhD holders in personnel. This development has been positive as well.

VTT’s innovation capabilities and commercial potential of innovations are represented by the capital raised by VTT’s spin-off companies. These companies have managed to raise more and more capital every year.

Personnel culture is described by the overall index compiled from the personnel survey, which has improved in recent years. This survey also shows the feedback from customers reporting that VTT employees are skilled and committed. Of the figures in the personnel survey, the figure describing well-being has improved the most in the last three years.

Healthy finances and sufficient resources secure operations

VTT’s turnover per personnel year has remained unchanged in recent years. The order back log has not grown as expected, but is still at a satisfactory level. The utilisation rate of the research infrastructure has not increased as expected, but has nevertheless improved.

People behind the metrics

The development of these metrics has required the expertise and cooperation of many VTT employees. A key person has been Kirsi Hyytinen, whose broad view of assessment development has been absolutely central to the development of impact assessment metrics. Many VTT employees are responsible for the various parts of these metrics, and an overall picture could not be obtained without input from different parts of the organisation.

Tuula Hämäläinen is responsible for evaluation as a whole and for the development of VTT’s internal indicators.

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