Innovations enable sustainable growth

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The world population growth has led to increased utilization of limited natural resources. On the other side, the demand for raw materials for industrial use is constantly increasing. This is a challenging equation with no easy solution. However, every challenge is an opportunity – resource wisdom provides the means to generate new businesses, to gain competitive advantage and to create totally new business models.

Resource wisdom is resource efficiency, if you like, it can also be interpreted as ”more from less”, meaning that less materials, energy and water is used in processes and production. Recycling of materials, components and goods is getting more and more attractive, also and especially from a business point of view. Industrial symbiosis, someone´s by-product or waste is crucial raw material for the other, represents new way of thinking and paves the way to wiser use of resources.   Resource efficiency is a crucial part of clean technology. The global cleantech market is growing rapidly and Finns possess the basic knowledge. That is why cleantech is part of the new government programme with high economical and societal expectations.

This all sounds good and promising by having a lot of potential to generate new businesses, sustainable growth, jobs and well-being. However, to make this happen there is a need for target-oriented research, technology development and innovation which can and will be successfully converted into products, services and businesses. Finland is known as a high technology country. We Finns have the ability to innovate.  In the recent Global Competitiveness Report 2014 – 2015 (by World Economic Forum) Finland was ranked No. 1 in innovativeness among 144 countries. But do we have the ability to exploit the outcome economically? Thus, innovation capability matters.

Cleantech is a growth area, which needs innovations. The Global Cleantech Summit 2015 is a forum for businesses, R&I and entrepreneurs to meet and to change ideas. Let´s innovate!

Anne-Christine Ritschkoff

Executive Vice President, Strategic Research

 

The blogpost was published 12.8. in the Global Cleantech Summit webpages.

 

 

A summer well spent as a Research Trainee at VTT

Five years at the technology university here in Otaniemi with occasional guest lectures given by VTTers has shaped my perception of VTT as a place where the real experts work and where you go to be at the cutting edge of –in my case- energy systems research. Needless to say, I’ve wished to work here for some time already. The chance to do so this summer made me drop another job opportunity –and you’d think that that high expectations actually makes a real set up for disappointment. However, the past two and a half months have been everything but.

Hands-on work in real projects

During the relatively short time I’ve worked at VTT I’ve had the chance to participate in two very different projects; one where time was of the essence and another which will be more long-running and which has co-authors in other countries as well. The first project was a summary and comparison of the different impact assessments made by EU member states regarding  the EU 2030 energy package, and I got to write the parts concerning a couple of the countries. I was surprised to be given that chance and responsibility right away and even more surprised when I to my delight saw that I am even mentioned as a co-author! That exceeded my expectations of what a summer trainee gets to do.

The second project which is under work right now is part of the IEA’s Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives 2016 book and concerns urban energy use in the Nordic countries. Here I am collecting and compiling basic data to assist the other team members in their writing of the chapter.

The greatest part about both projects is that I am being paid to read about interesting things and in some cases dig into questions I’ve long wished to know more about. The challenges are perhaps putting the findings into words, and more acutely into perspective; when you are only just beginning to read about a different country’s past and present energy politics, it is sometimes hard to know what is relevant or which earlier, national or international, agreements might lie behind a certain decision or make another one moot. However there is plenty of support just a few desks away if you just ask for it.

A glimpse in to research work

In addition to training different skills when working on different projects I feel like this summer has been a good intro to what research work is like; sometimes you have to make the most out of what you have and compile something useful in a short time, and on other projects you have more time and many international partners to bounce ideas off, discuss things –and to wait for.

After seeing only two projects I am obviously not really in a position to judge, but it seems like all projects are different. That’s usually right there at the top of the list if you ask people what they want from a job: they want varying work, project work. What’s delighting is also the coffee brakes during which news regarding energy politics are discussed and I can pick the brains of Finland’s leading energy specialists if I like to!

What makes a good working life?

As a young person on the verge of entering into the workforce I’ve found myself contemplating working life all the more often during this past year, and even participating in projects and programs where it is discussed. It seems to be something of an ongoing trend right now to ponder what work should be like; the talk of autonomy at work, of mobile work, of what makes a good working environment –and obviously I can’t help but use my current workplace as a reference point.

I am in awe at how well we summer trainees and master thesis workers were received and taken care of. Everything from the introduction to practicalities to the warm welcome into the VTT Young Professionals network –thank you VTT YP for all your events! It is great that there are so many so that everyone truly has a chance to attend at some point, even during the summer when I was expecting social happenings at work to be a bit toned down due to holidays!

Not to mention the everyday life at the office, where the Energy Systems team has been remarkably welcoming, and I say remarkably because it is no easy feat to make new people, especially persons you know will not be employees for more than a few months, feel like a part of your group of long-time colleagues. The work community in the team in which I work has been more supportive and open to new members than in other companies where I’ve worked before.

The culture is inclusive, and I’ve felt appreciated even before “proving myself” at work. I’ve been given a good amount of responsibility and even grown to like the timecard system –it gives me the autonomy to work late one day and leave early another!

These are exciting times as VTT is learning how to cope with less support from the state and as we recently selected a new CEO –so much about working here is great, but of course there are always inspiring role models out there (Google’s creative Friday!) and new heights of excellence to be reached as a company. All I know is, I’ll be sad to leave and I’ll be following the news on how things are developing at VTT for a long time after my employment here ends in September!

A big, warm Thank You to VTT and all VTTers for this summer!

Amanda Björnberg

Research Trainee

Invisible electronics to lift Finland’s innovativeness on a new level

The electronics industry has disappeared to Asia with gathering speed over recent years – even the products themselves have begun to vanish. By utilising this turn point in technology, Finland’s electronics sector has the chance to re-materialise following its downturn.

LED bulbs are disappearing into thin, flexible illuminating surfaces that merge with the decor and give off a pleasant light. This offers totally new possibilities to interior design.

Kalvo

Flexible solar cells are disappearing among various design elements, generating energy in either outdoor or indoor spaces.

Aurinkokennotaulu

Watch the video to see how flexible solar cells are printed at VTT using roll-to-roll technique.

Surface-embedded switches are disappearing within structures, just as game controls are disappearing into tables and boards. The surfaces can be planned based on design as the electronic parts are hidden.

A range of wirelessly readable sensors, such as temperature and moisture sensors, are also disappearing inside structures. The data received from large amount of sensors gives the opportunity to improve the temperature convenience and energy efficiency simultaneously. Wirelessly readable sensors can also be dug into the ground to measure, say, growing conditions or dangerous substances, after which they disappear through decomposition.

painettu elektroniikka

 

Wearable electronics are disappearing from wrist straps and other accessories, first onto fabrics and then stickers on – and eventually being inserted under –the skin. The development of wellbeing and healthcare services will change radically.

Kauneuslaastari

Displays are disappearing from in front of the glasses inside the glasses offering a user interface which merges unnoticeably in to the user’s visual field. Wireless sensors are disappearing inside sports gear and are communicating with cloud services, which analyse data to improve sports performance. Finland has a chance to return to the winners’ podium!

Lasit

All these technologies exist and they are developed at VTT. We create ‘disappearing’ electronics in the Printocent pilot plant in Oulu, Finland. Due to the large volumes needed, production is based on an extremely efficient roll-to-roll technique, inspired by the disappearing paper industry.

Printocent

VTT is one of the founding members of the Printocent community, which has brought several ‘disappearing’ or printed electronics companies into the world, created a business network to accelerate the pace at which electronics disappears and trained experts in making electronics vanish and new businesses materialise. This has led to a unique innovation environment which is helping technology developers, entrepreneurs and companies to create game-changing products and take Finland’s competitiveness to a new level. Things have got off to a great start and fast growth is in prospect, with room on board for all enthusiastic developers. Stick around – don’t disappear!

Raimo Korhonen

Head of Research Area

Further details on the technologies introduced in this blog (available in Finnish). 

Näkymätön elektroniikka nostamaan Suomen innovatiivisuus uudelle tasolle

Elektroniikkateollisuus on viime vuosina kadonnut kiihtyvällä tahdilla Aasiaan ja jopa itse elektroniikkatuotteetkin alkavat kadota. Hyödyntämällä tätä teknologiamurrosta Suomen elektroniikkateollisuudella on mahdollisuus siirtyä taantumasta jälleen kasvuvaiheeseen.

Ledilamput muuttuvat ohuiksi taipuisiksi valopinnoiksi ja katoavat sisustukseen antamaan miellyttävää valoa. Tämä antaa aivan uusia mahdollisuuksia sisustussuunnitteluun!

Kalvo

Taipuisat aurinkokennot katoavat erilaisiksi design-elementeiksi ulko- tai sisätiloihin tuottamaan energiaa.

Aurinkokennotaulu

Katso videolta, kuinka aurinkokennoja valmistetaan painokoneella rullalta-rullalle-tekniikalla VTT:llä

Pinnoilla olevat kytkimet katoavat rakenteiden sisään liiketunnistuksella toimiviksi kuten myös peliohjaimet pelipöytiin tai -lautoihin. Pinnat voidaan suunnitella design-näkökulmasta, kun sähköiset osat ovat piilossa.

Rakenteiden sisään langattomasti luettaviksi katoavat myös erilaiset sensorit, esimerkiksi lämpötila- ja kosteussensorit. Suuren sensorimäärän tuottama tieto antaa mahdollisuuden tilan lämpötilamukavuuden ja energiatehokkuuden parantamiseen samanaikaisesti. Langattomasti luettavia sensoreita voidaan myös kylvää maahan mittaamaan esimerkiksi kasvuolosuhteita tai vaarallisia aineita ja tehtävänsä suoritettuaan sensorit katoavat maatumalla.

painettu elektroniikka

Päällepuettava elektroniikka katoaa rannekkeista ja muista laitteista tekstiileihin, iholle liimattaviin tarroihin ja lopulta ihmisen ihon alle. Terveydenhuollon ja hyvinvointipalvelujen kehittäminen muuttuu radikaalisti!

Kauneuslaastari

Näytöt katoavat silmälasien edestä lasien sisään tuoden ihmisen näkökenttään huomaamattomasti sulautuvan käyttöliittymän. Langattomat sensorit katoavat urheiluvälineiden sisään ja kommunikoivat pilvipalveluihin, jotka analysoivat dataa ja auttavat parantamaan urheilusuoritusta. Suomella on taas mahdollisuus mitalisijoille!

Lasit

Kaikki nämä teknologiat ovat olemassa ja kehitetty VTT:llä. Me teemme katoavaa elektroniikkaa Oulussa Printocent-pilottitehtaassa. Tällaista elektroniikkaa tarvitaan isoja määriä, joten tuotanto perustuu äärimmäisen tehokkaaseen rullalta rullalle tekniikkaan, jonka kehitystä on inspiroinut katoavan paperiteollisuuden tuotantomenetelmät.

Printocent

VTT on perustajajäseniä Printocent-yhteisössä, joka on synnyttänyt useita katoavan elektroniikan start-up yrityksiä, luonut yritysverkoston nopeuttamaan elektroniikan katoamista ja kouluttanut kehittäjiä kadottamaan elektroniikkaa ja luomaan siitä liiketoimintaa. Näin on syntynyt ainutlaatuinen innovaatioympäristö, joka auttaa kehittäjiä, yrittäjiä ja yrityksiä luomaan mullistavia tuotteita ja nostamaan Suomen kilpailukyvyn aivan uudelle tasolle. Toiminta on lähtenyt hyvin liikkeelle ja voimakas kasvuvaihe on edessä, joten kaikki innostuneet kehittäjät mahtuvat mukaan.  Älkää kadotko!

Raimo Korhonen

Tutkimusalueen päällikkö

Lisätietoa kirjoituksen teknologioista.