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 our competitiveness.

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 continuing success!

Erkki KM Leppävuori
President & CEO