VTT Uutta | Uutiset 2002

Director General Erkki KM Leppävuori
VTT 60th Anniversary Seminar - 16.1.2002

Julkaisuvapaa VTT:n ulkopuolella 16.1.2002 klo 12.00

Herra pääministeri, arvoisat suurlähettiläät, hyvät naiset ja herrat!

Mr Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!

VTT:n visiona on olla edelläkävijä teknologian kehityksessä Suomessa. Luomalla ja soveltamalla teknologiaa lisäämme yritysten ja muun elinkeinoelämän kilpailukykyä ja edistämme näin koko Suomen hyvinvointia. Teknologia on oikein käytettynä erinomainen instrumentti, joka edistää todellista, kestävää kehitystä.

On erittäin valitettavaa, että tämän päivän kiihkeässä maailmassa yritysten toimintaa näyttävät ohjaavan enemmän päivittäiset pörssikurssien heilahtelut kuin pitkän tähtäyksen strateginen liiketoiminnan kehitys. Kaivataan uutta koulukuntaa, joka saa sijoittajat ja osakkeenomistajat vakuuttuneiksi siitä, että strateginen, pitkän tähtäyksen kehitys ja teknologiaan panostaminen on edullisempaa kokonaisuuden ja lopulta myös sijoittajien kannalta. Teknologiapanostukset ja innovaatiojärjestelmän kehittäminen ovat osa tätä tervettä, uutta kehitystä.

VTT's vision is to be in the vanguard of technological development in Finland. We believe that "VTT as the technology leader brings success to Finland". According to our mission statement VTT's goal is to enhance the competitiveness of industry and other business sectors and thus increase the welfare of society by creating and applying technology. We feel that technology is an excellent instrument for this as long as the principles of sustainable development are kept in mind.

It is very regrettable that in today's business life daily movements in listed share prices seem to be more important than long-term strategic business decisions. We need a new school of thought that will convince investors and shareholders that strategic long-term development and investments in research are better for industry and eventually for all stakeholders. Technology development is a key factor in ensuring healthy and sustainable growth.

VTT as a key player in the Finnish innovation system

The results of the Finnish Science Barometer 2001 (published by Tieteen tiedotus ry) showed that the Finns have a positive attitude to science, science-based innovation and different institutional actors of society. When comparing the public's trust in different institutions, VTT was ranked fourth after the police, the army and the universities. VTT was rated the highest of all the scientific and research organisations mentioned by name in the study. This serves as proof that the image and the community relationships of science and research are in good order in Finland. The impact of education and science-based innovations on long-term economic growth is widely acknowledged.

The key elements of the Finnish innovation system are high investment in research and development, a high-quality university system, and the innovation of private companies in close interaction with other players. Globalisation and new challenges arising from different changes both in society and in the business environment require further development of all aspects of the innovation system. The interaction and relationships between different parts of our innovation system are good, which makes it easier to modify and modernise the system as a whole to maintain its dynamism and flexibility.

Research funding in Finland

In Finland public funding for research and development increased significantly in the late nineties due to a special effort set in the government's budget. Also research funding from the private sector has risen rapidly - especially in the electronics and ICT sector. It accounts for more than half of the total R&D investments from industry. Research work done by Finnish companies abroad has also clearly increased. One third of industry's research currently falls into this category.

We can say that the contribution of Finland to know-how is reasonable. But is it enough? If we wish to build our future on knowledge we must make a proper contribution in the public sector as well. The share of the public sector in total R&D funding has fallen below 30% in Finland, partly due to the strong growth in private sector funding and partly due to increased foreign research funding - mainly from the European Union.

We can of course ask whether the public sector should contribute also to the research and development of the private sector? The share of public support to the R&D costs of private companies averages 10% in the OECD countries compared with only 5% in Finland. According to OECD research, public financing significantly stimulates private sector R&D, with diminishing returns not setting in until the contribution exceeds 13% (the US is near to that level). This means that we in Finland have a chance to improve our public contribution a lot!

Finland is a net recipient as far as EU research programmes are concerned. Over 30% of the Finnish project proposals submitted for the 5th Framework Programme were accepted, and Finnish companies and organisations received more funding than the share that Finland had to pay to the European Union as a Member State. Finnish companies and organisations are participating in over 1,000 current EU projects.

VTT was the most active Finnish organisation in the EU projects. VTT had as many projects in the 4th Framework Programme as the next four largest Finnish participants combined. VTT is also taking steps to strengthen its co-operation with partners from the US and Japan. VTT has close to 500 public international projects going on annually. About half of them are partly financed from the European Union's framework programmes. There is a domestic company or other domestic partner in half of VTT's EU projects.

Regional presence increased

VTT has responded to the challenge of Finland's regional development based on the creation and promotion of high-tech industry by improving access to our expertise and services through regional innovation networks. Examples of VTT's regional co-operation include the active co-operation with the University of Oulu and Oulu Vocational Training College at Raahe, which has developed into an important technology centre in the field of information systems and data processing methods. VTT's contribution concerns embedded software technology.

VTT has also participated in the establishment of Hämeenlinna Metal Thin Sheet Technology Centre in partnership with local enterprises, the Häme Polytechnic and the City of Hämeenlinna. The activities of the Southeast Finland Technology Centre resulted in the creation of the Factory of the Future project, in which the manufacturing technology and equipment of both VTT and the Lappeenranta University of Technology were assembled to create Finland's leading centre of laser and electron beam processing technology. Recent regional activities include the set up of a research group for Electrotechnical Products in Vaasa, co-operation in the start-up of Jämsä Region Centre of Expertise and the opening of VTT's customer service point in Varkaus. In the early months of this year VTT will start up a new Pharmaceutical Biotechnology research group in Turku, and it will work in close co-operation with the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University.

VTT's regional activities are based on the clear needs and sound participation of enterprises and educational organisations in each area. Local presence facilitates and improves the transfer and application of new technologies especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. An important part of the regional activities is VTT's work through so called technology clinics, which are financed by the National Technology Agency, Tekes.

VTT looks to the future

The main element in VTT's new research strategy is effective utilisation of all VTT's knowledge and know-how. This can be done by increasing internal collaboration. This means some organisational changes, too. We also strive to set up strategic partnerships with our customers and other co-operation partners. This involves the need for internationalisation.

Is it right that a national research centre with its own knowledge should help to develop industrial competitiveness in another country? Is it right that tax payers' money is used to create know-how that streams out of the country? One easily runs into questions like this when planning the internationalisation of operations. Internationalisation is - however - a necessity for VTT. Only 0.5% of the world's research is done in Finland.

This means that to ensure our own competitiveness and to be able to work in the increasingly global business environment we systematically have to search for co-operation partners from abroad. We run the risk of losing our most valuable asset - our qualified research personnel - if we are not seen as a desirable working environment both nationally and internationally. Of course, our internationalisation must fulfil VTT's mission and bring added value to Finland as a whole.

To bring our competitiveness to a new international level VTT has started four strategic research themes: Clean World, Future Communication Technologies, Safety and Reliability, and Intelligent Products and Systems. The aim is to focus our knowledge and know-how, and to develop genuine collaboration that is not limited by organisational structures.

Good interaction and collaboration within the innovation network is our strength

In a small country like Finland the question of how limited resources are used is a crucial one. It is essential for Finland to maintain and even improve standards in education and research. We need participation in and funding for technology development both from the public sector and from the private sector. It is a real challenge for VTT to impress the importance of this on political decision-makers and other parties influencing technology and other policies.

It is also most important for the well-being of Finnish society that actions are taken to balance the needs of work, education and changes in the environment. It is most alarming that universities can't properly take care of their educational tasks and scientific basic research but have to work on an increasingly short-term basis to gather funding for their activities.

Good interaction between the different parties of the innovation system is essential. One success story is the co-operation in paper machine research at Jyväskylä. VTT and Metso Paper, in collaboration with Tekes and the Jyväskylä Science Park built a new research platform for paper machine R&D. The University of Jyväskylä also participates in this work through a joint professorship with VTT. With arrangements like this the effectiveness of work should be guaranteed. All of the parties contribute to the work and all benefit from it.

Main challenges facing the Finnish innovation system

The society expects the world's best innovation environment to be able to react to global changes in the business environment more quickly than those of other countries. The innovation environment must also be able to foresee the need for industrial and business renewal and thus to stimulate the development of companies in the increasingly international business environment. A good innovation environment must also be able to efficiently use public contributions to education, to research and development and to subsidies (i.e. different phases of venture capital).

The National Science and Technology Council has identified four main challenges that the Finnish innovation system faces:
1. The first priority is to ensure the development of information and communication technologies.
2. At the same time we should ensure development in other sectors important to us, and we should support social, economic and cultural development as well as regional development.
3. It is also necessary to identify new growth areas in the Finnish business and industrial sectors, and promote the birth and growth of new companies.
4. Information and know-how should be spread as widely as possible and the solutions that ICT offers should be spread and integrated into other sectors of our society.

Ladies and gentlemen!
Hyvät naiset ja herrat!

VTT is ready to meet these new challenges. The long-term strategic development of companies - technology development as a part of it - is essential on the road to a better future.

VTT on valmis omalta osaltaan vastaamaan tulevaisuuden teknologiakehityksen haasteisiin. Kun toiminta perustuu terveisiin pitkän tähtäimen strategioihin, tie kohti parempaa tulevaisuutta on viitoitettu niin meillä kuin yrityselämässä.

Uutta | Uutiset 2002