VTT, Aalto University, GTK, Luke and SYKE are launching a circular economy challenge competition


The competition is open to all interested multidisciplinary and cross-organisational teams from Aalto University, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and VTT. The new ideas, concepts and proposals from the competition will be pitched to companies and other stakeholders in the fall in Circular Fair event.

The target of the competition is to co-innovate multidisciplinary circular design based ideas and concepts that combine business, technology, resource, sustainability and regulatory aspects. With the competition, the R&D organisations aim to initiate opportunities for sustainable business and practices for circular economy, leading to circular transition at the system level. User value should be at the core of the proposals. The theme areas of the competition are packaging, textiles, minerals and metals, food systems, batteries, and construction. 

Saku Vuori, Director, Science and Innovations at Geological Survey of Finland (GTK): “The circular economy is one of GTK’s strategic focus areas, and we want to be actively involved in co-development and building innovation ecosystems that support sustainable growth. This is a great initiative in that direction.”

Antti Asikainen, Executive Vice President, Research at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke): ”In this challenge competition, I am inspired by the opportunity to ideate solutions to promote the circular economy, especially relating to primary production, in multidisciplinary teams. This will also lead to completely new expert networks for responding to future circular economy calls and challenges.”

Erja Turunen, Executive Vice President at VTT: “Circular economy solutions and innovations arise from cooperation and wide-ranging activities. That is why this kind of a concrete competition combining expertise at a low threshold is the perfect way to launch a new multi-stakeholder partnership and ecosystem.”

Jyri Seppälä, Professor at Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE): “Seemingly good circular economy solutions may not be feasible if they do not meet the legislative requirements or if their impact is not economically or environmentally sustainable. A challenge competition in which multidisciplinary and different perspectives are introduced from the start is therefore a particularly desirable starting point for finding sustainable and innovative circular economy solutions.”

Kristiina Kruus, Dean at Aalto University: “I am very happy and excited that we can work together with the Geological Survey of Finland, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Finnish Environment Institute and VTT in order to fund our researchers in multidisciplinary cooperation under this important theme of the circular economy. I am convinced that we will receive brilliant ideas and applications.” 

Circular economy ecosystem for Finland

The competition is a kick-start for a circular innovation ecosystem development initiative by VTT and the other R&D partners. Preliminary work has been carried out in workshops earlier this spring.

“Collaboration is the key when creating systemic solutions. We need all hands on deck, including companies, non-governmental organisations, municipalities and other stakeholders”, says Inka Orko, leader of the ecosystem initiative at VTT.

The goal is to build an innovation community that is able to create, develop and experiment holistic circular economy solutions across industry boundaries. The ecosystem initiators will invite businesses, other R&D partners, public bodies, regional authorities and non-governmental organisations to participate.  

Competition contact points

Aalto University: Virve Karttunen, [email protected] 
Geological Survey of Finland: Asko Käpyaho, [email protected] 
Natural Resources Institute Finland: Anu Kaukovirta, [email protected] 
Finnish Environment Institute: Tuuli Myllymaa, [email protected] 
VTT: Jonne Hirvonen, [email protected] and Inka Orko, [email protected]

Inka Orko
Inka Orko
Head of Business Development
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