Riitta Maijala (vasemmalla) ja Teija Lahti-Nuuttila (oikealla)

Teija Lahti-Nuuttila ja Riitta Maijala: Cooperation between research and business creates a positive cycle

23 Jun 2021

The national target for Finland’s RDI investments is 4% of the GDP. This cannot be achieved without a significant increase in investments by businesses and the public sector. The public sector must create an environment that fosters cooperation between high-quality research and companies and encourages RDI investment.

Finland’s future will be built on expertise. Research, development and innovation lay a strong foundation for developing business operations and society towards sustainable development, economic growth and well-being. The scientific community is creating unique expertise that companies need for renewal and growth in the global markets. Companies see the needs arising from future business operations and bring new research challenges to be resolved together. Through cooperation, research results are applied to business operations.

We are no longer living in a world in which market entry is preceded by basic and applied research. Through dynamic interaction, various operators are sharing expertise and developing future solutions by combining the latest information produced by the scientific community with the technological and business expertise of companies. In the best case, this leads to a positive cycle.

Predictability encourages investments

In Europe, Finland is a leader in cooperation between research and companies and in developing cooperation models. Highly competent people, an effective innovation environment, infrastructures and research platforms enable the creation and development of strong hubs for expertise. These are key factors in ensuring that companies and experts choose Finland in tough international competition. We must not lose this competitive edge.

Cooperation between research and companies has decreased to an alarming degree in Finland in recent years. This has been affected by decisions concerning public funding for RDI investments, and applied research in particular. Companies need a long-term view of funding by the public sector. If public funding is erratic, companies will lose the courage to make investments. A long-term approach also enables research to be carried out in peace, in addition to providing opportunities to address new scientific issues boldly.

The partnership model is being developed together

Business Finland and the Academy of Finland cooperate closely in developing a partnership model for Finnish RDI operations. The goal is to strengthen partnerships between companies and research organisations.

Business Finland provides funding for business-driven RDI operations where companies and research organisation develop solutions for the growing global markets. Business Finland knows the Finnish business sector and brings together various operators, companies and research organisations. Its international network provides insight into market needs. Funding is targeted at projects with the potential to create significant export revenues, jobs and well-being for Finland.

The Academy of Finland provides funding for internationally competitive, scientifically high-quality and socially effective responsible research. International peer review is its key tool for identifying the best and most promising projects. The Academy of Finland supports the creation of an expertise pool that promotes renewal in science. This benefits both companies and society extensively.

The pilot phase of the partnership model has included funding from both operators. Business Finland has provided funding for leading companies and ecosystems, for example, that is, companies investing in RDI operations in Finland and the ecosystems emerging around them. The Academy of Finland has targeted research funding at, for example, flagship projects that already cooperate with companies and whose cooperation can be further increased alongside high-quality research. The significant contributions of research organization indicate strong long-term commitment, which also attracts business partners.

The Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland takes hubs for expertise and innovation to a new level

The importance of RDI funding has also been acknowledged in the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland, which is the national Recovery and Resilience Plan. In accordance with the programme, Business Finland and the Academy of Finland provide RDI funding to promote the green and digital transitions and support partnerships. This reinforces previous development and presents new opportunities.

This year, Business Finland and the Academy of Finland are targeting funding at future key fields and technologies that promote the green and digital transitions. The funding is aimed at developing and strengthening hubs for expertise and leading companies ecosystems in particular. Business Finland has already launched a two-stage challenge competition for leading companies.

Research and innovation infrastructures are another area of cooperation. The Academy of Finland supports national research infrastructures based on the funding application process in the spring of 2021, and Business Finland will support pilot and test environments for innovation through its funding application process in 2022. The Academy of Finland will launch a funding application process for the development of local research infrastructures in 2022. Through joint communication, the various application processes will be presented as a clear and synergistic whole to the applicants.

It is time to think big and amp up growth in Finland. Research, expertise and innovation are proven to be the most effective way to promote renewal in business and industry and sustainable growth in productivity.

Information about the funding opportunities was provided at a joint event of Business Finland and the Academy of Finland on June 17, 2021.

More information about the application processes and schedules will be published on the websites:

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