VTT’s Professor of Practice Riikka Virkkunen to Co-chair The Made in Europe Partnership

Riikka Virkkunen

Horizon Europe framework program’s partnership Made in Europe investigates the digitalization and green transition of manufacturing industry. As a result industry processes become more environmentally friendly, companies’ competitiveness and resilience improve, and new European jobs will be created.

Industry is Europe’s backbone and manufacturing industry an important part of it. Research and innovations help us to strengthen industry’s performance and recover from the corona crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic truly demonstrated how vulnerable all industries are when an unexpected crisis hits. Companies and ecosystems capable of adapting to sudden changes will exit the pandemic as winners.

Made in Europe to ensure the excellence of European manufacturing industry

In order for the companies to make it in the ever-changing world, they have to constantly innovate and renew themselves. Made in Europe is a new EU-partnership which aims at exactly that. European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA), the official industry representative of the Made in Europe partnership, has nominated VTT’s professor of practice Riikka Virkkunen as its co-chair.

“Made in Europe acts as a part of the Horizon Europe framework program. It is one of the program’s most significant partnerships. Research and innovation funding is available for the manufacturing industry throughout the whole seven years of the framework program. All these investments are needed: manufacturing industry is amidst green transition and digitalization is perhaps the most important enabler of the transition. Digitalizing industry processes requires notable research activities and technology development”, describes Virkkunen the program’s importance.

Impact on millions of jobs

Manufacturing industry has a huge effect on economy and wellbeing: it influences up to 30 million European jobs. Europe’s manufacturing industry operates in a global economy where giants like China and USA are simultaneously its partners and competitors. The most important thing is to maintain independence and competitiveness both in technology capabilities and subcontractor ecosystems. In addition to investments in Europe, smart partnerships need to be formed both East and West.

“We have several strong regional characteristics in Europe, such as Germany’s automotive industry and the electronics know-how of the Netherlands. Also Finland can be proud of its domestic machine, metal, and electronics industries. Various domains have a lot to give to each other. For example, applying data and artificial intelligence in industry processes can be transformed and tailored from one domain to another. Naturally there are several differences, too, for example regarding the manufacturing of customized products. Automatization of mass production is on a whole different scale than one-of-the-kind or short series manufacturing”, explains Virkkunen the nature of industry domains.

An honor to VTT

Contributing to the twin transition (simultaneous green and digital transition) is an essential way to maintain and develop the competitiveness of European manufacturing industry. By virtue of digitalization the industry will be more resource efficient and generate less waste than before. Production of the new green products also calls for innovations. Made in Europe partnership acts in the core of this work.

“It is a great honor from EFFRA to choose VTT to co-chair this partnership”, sums Virkkunen.

Riikka Virkkunen
Riikka Virkkunen
Professor of Practice
Our vision beyond 2030

Collaboration throughout the manufacturing value chain will create new production methods, using e.g. robotics, 3D printing, and augmented reality to support human labour.