Metrology is needed in the social transformation – the EU partnership on metrology responds to the need and invites companies to participate

Martti Heinonen

Metrology is one of the cornerstones on which the well-being and future of society are built. For example, new metrological solutions are needed to support digitalisation and the green transition. The forthcoming EU partnership on metrology seeks to increase the social impact of the sector. Finland is one of the participating countries in the partnership, and VTT MIKES coordinates Finland's participation on the national level.

Metrology ensures the reliability and international comparability of measurement data. In Europe, this task is managed by national metrology institutes and, in Finland, by VTT MIKES. Cooperation between the institutions is coordinated by the European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET). European national metrology institutes and designated institutes have a long tradition of cooperation through EURAMET by which they help each other achieve national goals and maintain a high scientific level.

The current challenge for European metrology is the development of competitive infrastructures. This requires increased cooperation and resource sharing between national metrology institutes. 

“EURAMET's main goal is to help European metrology institutes develop an integrated measurement infrastructure that is globally competitive and serves companies and society. In addition to technical infrastructure, this means ‘soft’ infrastructure, such as measurement services, regulation, scientific expertise and processes,” says Mikko Merimaa, a former VTTer, who is now working as General Secretary of EURAMET.

The partnership on metrology aims to impact

The forthcoming EU partnership on metrology is an important tool for achieving common goals. It is intended to create an economically sustainable and scientifically excellent coordinated metrology system in Europe, which will close the investment gap between Europe and the competing countries. 

“This means that European national metrology institutions need to specialise smartly and invest in new capabilities uniformly. For example, there is only one metrology institution in the USA and China, and they have no overlapping activities. Resource sharing should still be made more efficient in Europe” says Merimaa.

The partnership also aims to ensure that world-class metrological expertise leads to products, processes, services or inventions that provide a competitive advantage to companies and their ecosystems. In addition, the aim is to increase the social impact of metrology in, for example, the implementation of policy measures, standards and regulations related to challenges. 

The Finnish society and industry can take advantage of the solutions created together in the EU partnership on metrology. The partnership also provides Finnish companies with an interface to European networks where they can find partners, customers, needs and new markets.

Metrology supports digitalisation and the green transition

The digital transformation and the green transition are changing our society, as are the circular economy, the fourth industrial revolution and the transformation of health technologies. All these require new metrological solutions and infrastructures.

“The digital transformation changes the way measurement data is processed: measurement results used to be obtained from one device, but now the devices communicate with each other and cloud computing platforms. For this reason, new means of ensuring the traceability of the results are needed,” explains Merimaa.

The green transition, on the other hand, means that legislation is increasingly based on measurements. It must be possible to measure the state and changes of the environment so reliably that decisions and policy measures can be made on the basis of the results. 

Reliable measurement is a key requirement in industry

In Finland, VTT MIKES develops metrology services and expertise for industry and society. Accurate and reliable measurements are needed in all sectors of industry for process control, demonstration of environmental impacts and, for example, pricing of products. In addition, the reliability of measurements is a crucial factor in terms of, for example, the competitiveness of measurement instrument manufacturers.

VTT MIKES conducts world-leading research in metrology. Its projects especially develop measurement technology that requires provable reliability and measurement accuracy and more efficient quality assurance and calibration. 
“Such technology is needed in, for example, the monitoring of climate emissions, the circular economy of materials, energy solutions, smart cities and transport and, later, in quantum technology,” says Martti Heinonen, Vice President of VTT MIKES. “These sectors solve major challenges that society faces. Both metrology and extensive cooperation between companies and research institutions are required.”

Companies involved in partnership projects

The legislation enabling the EU partnership on metrology entered into force on 1 December 2021 by the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The first partnership work programme was adopted for 2021 immediately after. EURAMET members have funded the preparations so that the partnership could launch as quickly as possible.

The partnership on metrology will last until 2030 and covers at least 650 million euros. Of the funding, 300 million euros come from the EU Commission and the rest from the member states. The terms and details of implementing the partnership are currently being specified, and the agreement is expected to be signed in spring 2022. 

Finland is one of the participating countries in the partnership, and VTT MIKES coordinates Finland's participation on the national level. Finland has a relatively large role in the partnership research projects, and it involves both companies and research institutes as external partners and institutions maintaining measurement standards as internal partners.

Companies are welcome to participate in partnership projects and define their needs. The consulting phase of the upcoming application round will open in January, and it will compile information on needs related to metrology. The actual application round for projects and consortia will open later. Details on future applications rounds can be found on the EURAMET's participant portal, and VTT MIKES will instruct companies in applying for projects.

Interested in being a metrology partner? Contact VTT MIKES

Martti Heinonen
Martti Heinonen
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