A number of challenges confront Finland's research and innovation policy.
Powerful structural change in key areas of our business life is demanding
agility, wisdom and impact from our innovation activities. One thing is clear:
measures taken by the public sector alone will not be enough to secure the
competitiveness of our industry. While acknowledging that various policy
actions will have a role to play, development must involve symbiotic
interaction between training, research and innovation activities and the
companies concerned. Regrettably, the cuts in public sector costs are
threatening investment in innovation. This may compromise any improvement in
Political decisions to cut technological research activity reveal a change in
thinking over the past ten years. The changes to industry structure have
dented belief in the impact of innovation activity. Why should we invest
taxpayer's money in something that is anyway unable to prevent our export
industry from disintegrating? Why doesn't the large additional investment in
university reform in recent years produce quality results? These are justified
questions. The world of research must find answers to them.
VTT is ready for the challenge. The reform of our organisation that came into
effect at the start of this year is an excellent response to the new way of
thinking demanded by the change. The Horizon 2020 programme, with its broad
aim at the future development of all EU industry, presents VTT with an
outstanding opportunity. What we need now is even more systematic thinking,
more innovative combinations of different competences, to make sure we make an
impact. Top research and scientific publications won’t take business
competitiveness forward by themselves – emphasis more than ever must be on
cooperation between VTT and the universities.
The hard times of recent years have also been felt at VTT. These are not the
temporary economic fluctuations of earlier times, when the natural response
would have been to invest in the future. This time, the difficulties are not
going away so easily, and we seem to be losing heart. Too many of our
entrepreneurs harbour doubts about the future – we see this in the lack of
enthusiasm for developing future competitiveness. It is time for VTT to react,
and this we have done, by focusing on our own operations. Our view of the
future is nonetheless positive. Our cooperation with the world of business
will help little Finland to rise again! We intend to reignite belief and
enthusiasm in innovation, among companies and decision-makers alike.
VTT’s renewal will continue. This year will see the conclusion of VTT's
corporatisation as a fully state-owned, not-for-profit limited company with
special duties. There will be a significant improvement in our operational
dynamics, and this will help us to react to changing global challenges.
VTT’s success is founded on its competent, motivated and inspired personnel.
Our objectives would remain out of reach, however, without our cooperation
partners. I would like to thank all of you for your contribution to VTT’s
Erkki KM Leppävuori
President & CEO