What’s invisible, smart and changing the world?

Imagine an invisible force that can move material swiftly from place to place, flash images of faraway lands instantly before our eyes, or shine light on darkness at the flick of a wrist. Our ancestors would have called it magic, but it’s what we know as the force of electricity. Ever since humans first saw lightening in the sky and called it the work of the gods, our vision of energy has been linked to the miraculous. And in today’s world it is wielded not by magicians or gods but by smart, sustainable technologies and human ingenuity.

Energy is more than just kilowatt hours

I recently joined VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. from the management team of an electricity company, where I spent fifteen years in customer service, witnessing the changing pace of energy in our lives.  I came to understand that energy distribution means more than just selling electrons or kilowatt hours. Energy is smarter than that. Energy can equal a good cup of coffee or a comfortable commute. It can be about finding shelter or having a secure home with clean indoor air. Energy can also be about our ability to apply environmental technology to promote low-carbon lifestyles and fight climate change.

What is smart energy?

In my new position as the Co-Creation Manager at VTT, you could say I’ve moved from selling energy to selling the idea of energy, which brings me to the question: what is Smart Energy?

If I ask a customer, they might talk to me about Smart Energy as a service enabler that will change their way of doing business. If I ask one of the experts on my team, I might get a more technical answer about what happens when energy meets digital technology. Then if I ask a city manager, the answer may be different again, to do with how new smart grid infrastructure will affect the quality of life for citizens.

The answer comes from a shared vision

So I continue to ask the question: what is Smart Energy? The most comprehensive answer I can get is through what VTT does best. That is, bringing together wide cross-sector groups into what we call living laboratories. The Smart Otaniemi project as a smart energy innovation ecosystem among customers, technology experts, and the Espoo municipality is a case in point.

To realize a shared understanding and vision of what Smart Energy is, we need everyone at the table. We need these broad ecosystems, cross-cutting value chains, co-creating new solutions, bringing in new actors and new businesses, as well as combining pilots to find synergies.

Who will be teaching whom in our energy future?

To understand this shared Smart Energy vision, we also need to look beyond the present set-up. Clearly, the rising economies outside Europe, where renewable energy consumption is exploding, will soon lead the world in green energy. Smart energy is more easily applied to the light footed rising economies with little or no existing infrastructure, leaving them free to experiment. If we look at the history of energy in Europe, the US and China, growth came from substantially from coal. But now Smart Energy is changing the map. Africa is becoming the first region in the world to power its economic development on renewable energy rather than fossil fuel and India looks set to become the world’s largest energy consumer. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global electricity use looks set to double over the next 20 years. But the good news is that renewable energy sources should represent almost three quarters of the estimated $10.2 trillion the world is to invest in new power generating technology between now and 2040.

So as a newly appointed Smart Energy visionary, I have my answer: Smart Energy means combining energy with the power of technology and the power of partnership to co-create a cleaner, greener, and higher-quality life. And as a mother of two children, I would add, while leaving the world a better place than we found it.

Read more:  www.vttresearch.com/services/sustainable-and-smart-city/energy 
Sanna Öörni
Co-Creation Manager, Smart Industry and Energy Systems



This is the first in a series of VTT Smart Energy blogs, bringing you the very newest thinking and action around Smart Energy. Stay tuned for our next blog in August: “Finnish energy companies will conquer the world or will they?”, by Juha Hämekoski, Head of Sales and Customer Partnerships

Where can we find future growth areas for Finland? The VTT lighthouses provide us with many opportunities

Various actors in the world follow and examine a variety of megatrends and phenomena, trying to predict future development trends. The boldest among them claim that they are creating the future. This is what we at VTT do as well. In this blog, VTT’s Strategy Manager Sanna Tuominen explains how VTT has sought − and found − future growth opportunities for Finland. They benefit the whole world.

VTT began the search from megatrends and big challenges in society. Such change drivers are great in number, and they are scalable to different extents. For example, the United Nations has listed a few dozen major challenges for humanity and agreed on 17 sustainable development goals with a multinational consortium. Finland has a lot to offer towards reaching goals like this, and certain subject areas offer real opportunities for Finnish expertise to boost business and increase export. But how can we find and choose the most potential growth areas?

Lighthouses illuminate the way towards future growth

In our strategy work, we examined how societal challenges are transformed into opportunities for growth in Finland. Together with our stakeholders, we discussed where Finland’s strengths lie. Next, we considered how to accelerate growth with technological innovations.

As stated in our vision, we at VTT believe that a brighter future is created through science-based innovations. Extensive maps were drawn on the opportunities identified during the strategy work that were re-grouped under various areas of societal challenge. This led to the creation of five focus areas, which we call lighthouses:

* Climate action – Clean energy for the future
* Resource sufficiency – Prosperity from resource wisdom
* Good life – Improved quality of life, work, health and well-being
* Safety and security – Resiliency in turbulent world
* Industrial renewal – Innovations empowering industry


The lighthouses and opportunities for Finland selected by VTT

Come join us to change the world

No actor can solve the major societal challenges alone. Through its lighthouse work, VTT has chosen focus areas on which it wishes to cooperate with other business actors in seeking solutions to the chosen global challenges. In these areas, Finland has national strengths. Ecosystems and new forms of collaboration enable our challenge-driven work towards sustainable solutions.

We describe the challenges related to the lighthouses and the opportunities for growth in the publication VTT Lighthouses – growth opportunities for industry and society. It is freely available to everyone. Get acquainted with our way of thinking and come join us in making a change towards creating a better future.

In addition, we will shortly begin a series of podcasts on Finland’s opportunities for growth, which will present our approach and the subject areas of opportunity in closer detail. Follow the VTT social media accounts to learn more about this!


tuomistosannaSanna Tuominen
Manager, Strategy, VTT
Twitter: @SannaPTuominen

P.S. VTT will organize five events for invited guests (Beyond the Obvious – Growth Labs) on the lighthouse themes. The first event on 4 June 2018, with Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner as the keynote speaker, will address the challenges and opportunities of the Climate action lighthouse. Follow #VTTGrowthLab in social media

Cellular agriculture – the next leap forward from vertical farming

Vertical farming refers to the process of growing plants in stacked layers in the controlled conditions of greenhouses. In a broader sense, vertical agriculture could describe any resource-efficient food production in a closed and controlled environment. Cellular agriculture, the use of cells to produce food instead of multicellular organisms such as cows, is a natural extension to vertical farming­ – and the next big leap forward.

Biotechnology and cellular agriculture will replace some animal and plant-based ingredients in existing foods as well as create entirely new food products and business opportunities. Vertical agriculture as a whole is about providing better sustainability and resilience – producing food without causing harm to the environment and regardless of the challenges caused by a changing climate.

Farming without fields

Cellular agriculture extends the vertical farming concept by using bioreactors to ‘farm’ cells. These cells can produce certain proteins – a modified yeast can brew the proteins that make up milk, for example – or they can be grown as a ready-to-consume mass. This helps tackle some of the biggest issues relating to food production, such as ethical concerns about using animals as a source of food and the need for antibiotics in large-scale milk and meat production. What’s more, as agricultural land use is the main cause of biodiversity loss, a switch to closed vertical systems means food can be produced without affecting irreplaceable natural habitats.

The future is already here

Vertical farming and cellular agriculture are not the stuff of science fiction – they are already happening. Quorn – a meat substitute made of Fusarium microfungus grown in a tank – has been on the market since the 1980s and is projected to become a billion-dollar-a-year business within the next decade. New biotech production models are already challenging the dominant factory-farming model. Replacing valuable animal or plant-based ingredients that vary in price and quality also provides opportunities for established producers to achieve better product consistency and price stability, as well as introduce new and improved products to the market.

At VTT, we are building a sustainable world not only by improving the existing systems, but also by creating transformative changes for the better. We are leveraging our cutting-edge expertise in bio manufacturing and food engineering and working with key players in the field to test proof of concept for everything from ingredient replacements to the creation of entirely new products, supporting every phase of a project.

The food economy is ripe for disruption. Cellular agriculture, along with other fast-developing domains, are going to be as massive a change for food systems as the internet was for other businesses. The time has come to seize the opportunities this change offers and transform the future of farming.

Learn more about our thoughts on cellular agriculture

View our on-demand (17.5.2018) webinar:  Food without Fields -Cellular agriculture for sustainable food production

Download our Food 4.0 vision report

Lauri Reuter
Senior Specialist, Disruptive Technologies at VTT

Mistä löytyvät tulevaisuuden kasvualueet Suomelle? VTT:n majakat näyttävät monta mahdollisuutta

Maailmalla seurataan ja tutkitaan paljon megatrendejä ja ilmiöitä sekä koetetaan arvioida tulevaisuuden kehityssuuntia. Rohkeimmat kertovat luovansa tulevaisuutta. Näin myös me VTT:llä teemme. Tässä blogissa strategiapäällikkö Sanna Tuominen kertoo, miten VTT on hakenut – ja löytänyt – tulevaisuuden kasvumahdollisuuksia Suomelle. Niistä hyötyy koko maailma.

VTT lähti liikkeelle megatrendeistä ja yhteiskunnan isoista haasteista. Näitä muutosvoimia on lukuisia, ja ne ovat eri lailla skaalautuvia. Esimerkiksi Yhdistyneet kansakunnat on listannut parisen kymmentä ihmiskunnan isoa haastetta ja sopinut monikansallisen konsortion kanssa 17 kestävän kehityksen tavoitetta. Suomella on paljon tarjottavaa tällaisiin tavoitteisiin, ja tietyt aihealueet tarjoavat suomalaiselle osaamiselle todellisia mahdollisuuksia elinkeinoelämän piristämiseen ja viennin kasvattamiseen. Mutta miten löytää ja valita kaikkein potentiaalisimmat kasvualueet?

Majakat valaisevat tietä kohti tulevaisuuden kasvua

Strategiatyössä tarkastelimme, miten yhteiskunnan haasteet muutetaan Suomen kasvun mahdollisuuksiksi. Mietimme yhdessä sidosryhmien kanssa, mitkä ovat Suomen vahvuuksia. Seuraavaksi pohdimme, miten kasvua voi kiihdyttää teknologisilla innovaatioilla.

Kuten visioommekin on kirjattu, me VTT:llä uskomme, että kirkkaampi tulevaisuus luodaan tieteeseen perustuvien innovaatioiden avulla. Strategiatyössä tunnistetuista mahdollisuuksista piirrettiin laajoja karttoja, jotka ryhmiteltiin uudelleen yhteiskunnan haastealueiden alle. Näin syntyi viisi fokusaluetta, joita kutsumme majakoiksi:

  • Tulevaisuuden ilmasto – puhdasta energiaa
  • Resurssien riittävyys – resurssiviisaus takaa menestyksen
  • Hyvä elämä – elämänlaatua ja hyvinvointia
  • Kokonaisturvallisuus – varmuutta muuttuvassa maailmassa
  • Teollisuuden uudistuminen – mahdollisuuksia innovaatioiden avulla

Kuva: VTT:n valitsemat majakat ja mahdollisuudet Suomelle.

Tule mukaan muuttamaan maailmaa

Yhteiskunnan suuria haasteita ei mikään toimija ratkaise yksin. VTT on majakkatyöllään valinnut fokusalueita, joilla se haluaa yhteistyössä elinkeinoelämän muiden toimijoiden kanssa ratkaista valittuja globaaleja haasteita. Näillä alueilla Suomella on kansallisia vahvuuksia. Ekosysteemit ja uudenlaiset yhteistyömallit mahdollistavat haastelähtöisen työmme kohti kestäviä ratkaisuja.

Majakoiden haasteita ja niistä löytyviä kasvun mahdollisuuksia kuvaamme VTT Lighthouses – growth opportunities for industry and society -julkaisussa. Se on vapaasti kaikkien luettavissa. Tutustu ajatuksiimme ja tule mukaan tekemään muutosta paremman tulevaisuuden luomiseksi.

Lisäksi meiltä on tulossa Suomen kasvun mahdollisuuksista podcast-sarja, joka avaa tarkemmin lähestymistapaamme ja mahdollisuuksien aihealueita. Seuraa VTT:n sosiaalisen median tilejä, niin kuulet tästä tarkemmin!

Sanna Tuominen

Strategiapäällikkö, VTT
Twitter: @SannaPTuominen

P.S. VTT järjestää viisi kutsuvierastilaisuutta (Beyond the Obvious – Growth Labs) majakkateemoista. Ensimmäinen tilaisuus 4.6.2018 käsittelee Tulevaisuuden Ilmasto -majakan haasteita ja mahdollisuuksia. Key note -puhujana on liikenne- ja viestintäministeri Anne Berner.