The year 2019 showed that VTT has selected the right direction for its research and innovation work. The competition over research funding increased, but we succeeded in winning almost EUR 40 million of EU funding in Finland. We continued investing in competence development in particular, while also making savings in terms of costs to strengthen our finances. We fell a little behind on our financial targets. The year 2020 has begun under exceptional circumstances.
The year 2019 was a time of rapid development both for global science and for VTT, whereas the coronavirus epidemic has brought about unprecedented challenges in spring 2020. Fighting the crisis emphasises the importance of extensive collaboration between the world of science and the rest of society. The epidemic has made the societal significance of applied science increasingly visible. VTT is making its own strong contribution to finding means to get over the crisis and to making the return back to normal easier.
“The epidemic is affecting the innovation activities and finances of companies, but we want to be there to support our customers to ensure that innovation activity continues also during the crisis and that globally important research projects aimed at finding sustainable growth do not stop,” says Antti Vasara, President & CEO of VTT.
VTT Group’s result of the financial year was EUR 3.6 million, comparable operating result showed a loss
In 2019, the Group accrued a net turnover of EUR 147 million (EUR 171 million in 2018). Other operating income totalled at EUR 98 million, and it largely consisted of government grants. The Group’s net turnover decreased due to a decline in commercial business and Business Finland funding, and due to the divesting of subsidiaries the year before. Of the turnover, EUR 83 million was accrued from strategic research and EUR 64 million from research based on commercial grounds.
The Group’s operating result fell from last year, being EUR 3.1 million. The Group’s comparable operating result before special items showed a loss of EUR 5.6 million (EUR -2.0 million in 2018) despite the significant savings made in the operating expenses. The result of the financial year was EUR 3.6 million and the equity ratio was 66 per cent.
The particular mission of the parent company as an independent and impartial non-profit research centre is to promote the wide-ranging utilisation and commercialisation of research and technology in industry, commerce, and society.
Last year, the parent company had a total of 1,420 customers, of which 825 were domestic private-sector customers, 365 were international private-sector customers and 230 were domestic and international public-sector customers. The domestic revenue accounted for 53% of the parent company’s turnover and foreign revenue for 47% (at Group level the figures were 52% and 48%). The parent company’s result of the financial year was EUR 3 million.
A forerunner in global challenges
“Already in 2016, we made the tackling of global challenges – such as climate change and the sufficiency of natural resources – the starting point for our strategy. This strategy has proved to be timely. To achieve this, practical scientific innovations play a key role,” says CEO Antti Vasara.
VTT develops innovations in such fields as clean energy, sustainable food production and the circular economy. One of the core areas of our research in 2019 was the circular economy for plastics, which we are expecting to generate breakthrough innovations in the 2020s. Inspiring examples of our topical research in 2019 were also VTT spinoffs, which include startup companies such as Solar Foods, which produces edible protein using carbon dioxide captured from air, and IQM, which is developing Finland’s first functional quantum computer.
We accelerated the establishment of new deep-tech startup companies in Finland by investing in the new capital investment company, Voima Ventures, and by introducing the internal deep-tech incubation program, VTT LaunchPad, for supporting VTT employees in the commercialisation of research. Furthermore, we founded a subsidiary, VTT SenseWay Oy, to develop autonomous mobility on land, sea and in the air. The Smart Otaniemi ecosystem, developing smart energy solutions, has attracted a lot of international attention.
The annual report 2019 includes a corporate social responsibility report in the form of a GRI index. This year, we will develop our corporate social responsibility by means of, for example, materiality assessment. We will provide more information about our social responsibility work on our website, as the work progresses.
“The global challenges we are facing may be huge, but new means for solving them are also being developed at an enormous rate. I am optimistic that the global challenges can eventually be turned into sustainable growth,” Antti Vasara says.