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Driving business and competitiveness through technology

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Much of VTT’s work is ultimately focused on helping its customers see beyond the businesses they have now to the businesses and performance they could have in the future. The VTT organisation supports the creation of new products, services, and business concepts through technology and business foresight, IPR and licensing, and comprehensive testing and certification services.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland provides a comprehensive range of high-end technology solutions and innovation services, and its research work covers a full spectrum of technologies, from nanomaterials and ICT to technology in the community. Services span the entire innovation process, from technology foresight and strategic technology development to the creation of new and improved products, services, and processes – sometimes going all the way to the commercialisation of new solutions and business concepts.

Looking into the future

VTT prioritises the importance of looking as far as possible into the future when developing its own know-how and expertise, and a similar, future-driven perspective is used to support customers develop their own businesses with an eye to how their operating environment could change five, 10, or 20 years down the road. VTT’s technology and business foresight services are designed to give companies the ability to respond to the challenges these changes are likely to bring.

VTT’s research vision is underpinned by two megatrends: sustainable development and digitalisation. Building on this vision and the research it generates, VTT works with customers to identify emerging technologies, create new ones, leverage innovation potential, push applications development ahead, and expand their competence base. Involving customers and research partners in the innovation process at an early stage ensures that they can make maximum benefit of research results.

VTT aims to maximise the benefits of its research by directing innovative research into key areas with clear commercial potential: energy, forest products, industrial biotechnology, and electronics. VTT has established four spearhead programmes and several major innovation programmes to step up research in these strategic areas. In addition to purely technological goals, these programmes also include business plans to smooth the path for the commercialisation of successful research.

Digitalisation and sustainable development will be the defining drivers in the future development of technology and technology-based businesses, believes VTT. Combining wireless communication, networks of sensors, actuators and intelligent objects, and context awareness will open up exciting opportunities for new types of virtual and augmented reality.

Industrial biomaterials and eEngineering

The industrial biomaterials spearhead programme is focusing on using VTT’s skills in chemistry, process technology, material science, modelling, and analytical methods to develop new technologies and competencies in areas such as forest products and bioeconomy-based wellbeing. The emphasis is on generating value chains that start from forest biomass and end up in selected high-volume consumer products, without undermining the sensitive value chains of the food sector.

The eEngineering programme is designed to open up the opportunities inherent in modern, efficient digital product processes, capable of halving design and production ramp-up time, to a larger number of companies. To do this, the programme is working on new technology platforms for modelling and simulation, design knowledge management, life-cycle management, and human-technology interaction – for application in the machine and automotive industries, manufacturing, process industries (particularly forest products and energy), and construction.

Open smart spaces and printed intelligence

VTT’s open smart spaces programme is exploring new ways of integrating the digital and physical worlds, and providing people with easy access to situation-relevant information and services – drawing on wireless communication, networks based around sensors, actuators and intelligent objects, context awareness, virtual and augmented reality, and new user-interaction methods.

Following the trend towards open interoperability, the programme is prioritising the interoperability of devices, services, and applications and developing, demonstrating, and piloting new service and product concepts based on new human/technology interaction paradigms. 

Combining the know-how of the electronics sector with that of the paper industry lies at the heart of the printed intelligence programme and its goal of facilitating cost-efficient manufacturing methods for new smart products in areas such as consumer-packaged goods, media and ICT services, disposable diagnostics, and bioactive paper.

Ideally placed to leverage new innovation

With its own leading experts in numerous fields and research and business partnerships worldwide, its extensive research facilities and IPR resources, and commitment to leveraging synergies between different research fields, VTT is ideally placed to make technology a driver for success. VTT’s heavy involvement in numerous EU projects and international and national innovation networks only reinforces its potential to leverage new initiatives.

> Jouko Suokas
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)