VTT Future Opportunity Design identifies novel, future-proof and actionable R&D&I opportunities

Article
Niall Shakeshaft
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VTT’s mission is to turn large global challenges into sustainable growth opportunities. Together with our customers and partners we actively co-create better futures, instead of purely adapt to the constant changes in our operational environment. As part of VTT’s approach to combine design and research, we have launched VTT Future Opportunity Design service offering that supports the public and private sectors to explore and frame joint future opportunities and actionable pathways to reach them. It has already provided great results among Finnish industry players.

The creation of positive systemic breakthroughs that bring fundamental transformation and renewal in businesses and the society as a whole, requires that public and private organizations, funding bodies, public authorities, and research organizations build engaging future visions and joint agendas. VTT’s combined approach of design and research is particularly suitable for this purpose, as it systemizes the identification of novel opportunities in an agile, transparent and interdisciplinary manner.  In a scalable manner, VTT Future Opportunity Design can be utilized within multi-actor networks or in an individual organization – scaling towards larger networks and impacts.

“Due to the pandemic and the radical changes in our operational environment, we have developed the offering to meet the needs of our customers and partners in a remote mode of work. We have already engaged several customers into co-creation in digital space with great results”, says Niall Shakeshaft, Vice President, Design.

Key success factors to joint agendas

The building of joint future visions and development agendas is all about bringing the right set of partners with aligned goals and objectives together to explore, identify and prioritize future opportunities in a specific future-oriented contexts, themes and topics. Mutual commitment, engagement and shared understanding are in a key role to support the decision-making as the joint journey evolves.

Overall, we have identified five key success factors to joint agendas: 

  1. Envisioning ambitious targets and futures no organization can achieve alone
  2. Prioritizing opportunities with the highest value and impact
  3. Building a shared vision to which everyone can engage and commit 
  4. Concretizing joint opportunities with actionable plans
  5. Assembling a balanced and complementing partner consortium with clear roles 

VTT Future Opportunity Design has been developed to tackle these five factors. 

Scalable process for identifying the most impactful future opportunities

Consisting of five distinct phases that build on one-another, the main outcome is a shared understanding and a portfolio of actionable steps reaching towards a shared direction and desired impact. The process can be conducted in a scalable manner, depending on the complexity of the overall topic as well as the desired fidelity of the project outcomes. On average, the process takes from 6-10 weeks in total. 

Future Opportunity Design is steering the Finnish Energy Sector towards a joint vision

The approach has already provided great results among the Finnish industry. In April 2020 on behalf of Finnish Energy and STEK ry. we invited key actors from the Finnish energy sector to co-create concrete short- and long-term opportunities on sustainable energy solutions that promote smart energy transition. Finnish Energy (ET) is a branch organization for the industrial and labor market policy of the energy sector. STEK ry. is a not-for-profit organization, whose task is to promote the safe, reliable and intelligence use of energy and energy efficient solutions. 

The main goal of our project was to bring together leading researchers, commercial enterprises and funding organizations to move the Finnish energy sector towards a joint vision. Altogether close to 60 participants attended – from 10 commercial organizations, 9 research companies, and 2 funding bodies. The outcome was clearly identified future themes and a large number of concrete collaboration topics and proposals on how to promote smart energy transition in short- and long-term. 

Future Opportunity Design supports the AI development within the Finnish industry

In March 2020 a virtual workshop was organized together with the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence FCAI. FCAI is a community of experts in artificial intelligence in Finland, initiated by Aalto University, University of Helsinki and VTT. FCAI has the goal of creating new type of AI solutions that are able to operate with humans in complex world and renew the Finnish industry in the desired direction. 

The aim of this workshop was to frame strategic long-term visions for artificial intelligence solutions in the context of health, autonomous solutions and industry, as well as language and communication. Another aim was to identified opportunities into concrete proposals and actionable next steps for joint R&D activities with FCAI researchers and industry representatives. 

Key resources were nominated as task forces to drive target-oriented work in joint projects, having both company and societal engagement. Altogether 45 people attended this workshop, representing 18 private companies, 1 public organization, and 3 research institutes. 
 
We invite you to create new opportunities and the future together with us and our networks!  

Read more about design in research: https://www.vttresearch.com/en/ourservices/design-research

For more information on VTT Future Opportunity Design, please contact niall.shakeshaft@vtt.fi

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Niall Shakeshaft

Niall Shakeshaft

Vice President