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D2W - From Data to Wisdom – Approaches enabling circular economy

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Data to wisdom and SmartAdvantage project seminar for international business brought people together from industry, Business Finland and research organizations

A collaborative event for speeding up international business, organized by two research projects, brought together 9 business representatives and 10 researchers to address the internationalization paths enabled by circular economy and digitalization. In addition to research institutes, companies received support from an expert from Business Finland, Reijo Smolander.

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Smolander told about Business Finland's services and the internationalization path of companies. He has a strong service business background from Nokia, and has also led the "Industrial Internet - Capitalize your Knowledge" growth program at Finpro. Through for example market research and mapping services, Business Finland supports companies in their efforts to build up global business. Focal needs of the companies include opening up new doors, supporting networking opportunities as well as producing and utilizing information on a new market right from the beginning of the new business creation.

Finnish companies have strong technological know-how. However, competitiveness is difficult to reach based on only technology, and therefore it is important to expand the offering. Constant interaction with the customer enables up-to-date understanding related to customer needs which is essential for offering development. Services are a great way for this. Reijo Smolander emphasized that in developing services, establishing customer understanding as early as possible is a prerequisite for the success of a new business.

The company can be at various levels of service business with respect to the depth of a customer relationship. Services vary from providing occasional support and resources towards a deeper partnership where company is an integral part of the customers' business and development. It was agreed on that a deeper partnership does not necessarily offer greater profitability. Instead, it is essential that a company defines its strategic position with respect to the service business levels.

We still have not seen a big breakthrough in the creation and acquisition of digital service offerings. It has also been stated that, while companies' product sales are increasingly focusing on the emerging Asian markets, there are still major challenges in the sales of services to that specific market, for example, in communicating the value of the services.

Jukka Hellman from Huurre presented their development of international service offering for cooling and heat production. This approach includes, among other things, machine-learning based services for energy optimization and maintenance, as well as comprehensive cooling and heat production services. Hellman sees digital services as a key factor in internationalization.

In the group work of the event, companies created ideas that would enable companies to enter the international market with the support of each other, their partner networks and researchers. Discussion focused on e.g. the services to the end-of-life phase of the technical systems, the resource efficiency of the food production value chain and new service solutions for the production of recovered fuel.

At the event, the conversation was brisk and the networking and peer support was considered to be successful. Networking will continue in the result seminar organized again by the projects in January 2019. More experiences will then be shared on how to develop the circular economy and digital solutions.

More information on the SmartAdvantage project is provided on the following web site:  https://www.vtt.fi/sites/smartadvantage