Finland can offer significant new environmental technologies and innovations
to the rest of the world. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has
investigated barriers and opportunities related to the commercialization of
environmental technology and developed models for assessing the environmental
and market potential of innovations. Water technology was used as an example
in the research on environmental technologies. The results can be applied to
other environmental technologies as well.
The research resulted in the creation of the Value Assessment Framework (VAF),
which takes into account the central variables influencing the international
success of an environmental innovation. VTT’s approach focuses on the
innovation process, special characteristics of environmental innovations, the
environmental benefits of new products and lead market thinking.
starting point of the research project is the idea that an innovation is
created as a result of a specific regional need or expertise. A comparison of
the lead market factors of different regions and targeted marketing give the
innovation a good opportunity to become successful internationally. A small
country which manages to solve a local problem may be able to provide
internationally significant innovations. For example, the lack of natural
resources in Japan forced the country to develop recycling systems and to make
more efficient use of existing resources. In Denmark, the lack of fossil
resources promoted the development of wind power.
development is primarily governed by the tightening and increasingly
harmonised legislation adopted worldwide. As regards the development of the
competitiveness of companies, more stringent environmental legislation than
what has been introduced in other countries can be an important means to
create internationally successful business in the long term.
Finland, environmental engineering is a field that has been largely dominated
by the public administration and legislation. Due to climate change and rising
energy prices, the environment has become a factor which affects all business
activities. Private markets have also contributed to the development, which
has led to the improvement of energy and climate technology solutions, among
New innovations have led, at their best, not only to
environmental benefits but also to lower prices as a consequence of energy and
material savings. Life-cycle considerations and the ecological, social and
economical dimensions of sustainable development will receive increasing
attention in product development.
provided by the society play an important role in the development of new
solutions. These support mechanisms include the maintenance of high quality
investigations at research institutes, the development of legislation and
measures to promote the growth of internationally attractive business sectors.
The support must also cover service businesses, because their underlying
expertise can be as significant as a source of new business as a technological
solution. The public sector can function as a pacesetter by adopting solutions
which best advance sustainable development.
In the global
economy, the focus should shift to developing and growing market areas. Thanks
to its goal of developing environmentally-friendly cities, China currently
offers a great opportunity for exporting environmental companies. Central
America and Africa also offer excellent opportunities for new technology.
technology as a research example
Water technology was
used as an example in the research on the commercialisation of environmental
technologies. As the demand for water increases, it is expected that
water-related problems will be the basis for different types of footprint
calculations. It is estimated that 1.2 billion people live in regions that
suffer from a lack of water and at least 1.6 billion people do not have the
money to buy water of good enough quality. By 2025, water consumption in
industrialised countries is estimated to increase by 20 percent compared to
the year 2000 levels. In developing countries, in turn, the increase in
consumption will be approx. 50 percent. Water production and distribution
infrastructure is becoming obsolete in many countries.
Finnish water technology sector is characterised by its division: there is the
public sector, a few large private players and a number of small and
medium-sized companies. Due to the fragmentation of the sector, it is
important to create different forms of cooperation when developing and
marketing product and service concepts.
VTT’s publication “Water
business is not an island: assessing the market potential of environmental
innovations” is available online.