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An international innovation hub

Vantaa Innovation Institute Ltd.
Vantaa Innovation Institute was established in 2009 to accelerate the transformation of Vantaa, and the Aviapolis area around Helsinki Airport in particular, into an even more dynamic and innovative business hub.

Vantaa Innovation Institute is a non-profit development company dedicated to promoting the benefits of the Vantaa region and developing business opportunities for both local and international organisations in cooperation with companies, research institutes, and universities. Its location – in an area that has been christened Aviapolis – could not be better. Encompassing 42 square kilometres around Helsinki Airport, Aviapolis is one of Finland’s most dynamic business hubs and the fastest-growing concentration of small and large businesses in the region, with more than 35,000 people working locally.

Drawing on the in-built potential that this represents and working with a diverse range of partners, Vantaa Innovation Institute offers a variety of networking and training services, plans and carries out development projects, coordinates various cluster programmes, and promotes testing and development environments where new technologies, service solutions, and concepts can be piloted.

Assisting foreign companies establish operations in Finland, particularly in the Aviapolis area, and develop their business once established is a priority. Vantaa Innovation Institute also provides an excellent base for homegrown companies that are just starting out on the road to expand their business internationally.

RFIDLab Finland is dedicated to helping companies leverage the business potential of RFID and NFC technologies, create new networks, and drive new development initiatives.

Clusters and projects

Vantaa Innovation Institute’s cluster programmes are designed to strengthen the development of the Aviapolis area as a business environment and promote the growth of the companies based there, with a particular focus on innovation and R&D. The emphasis is on making it easier for companies to find new partners and customers and develop their own services and products.

Vantaa Innovation Institute’s current core clusters are focused around logistics, ICT, health care, and environmental products and services. In the logistics area, for example, activities cover fields such as automatic identification technologies, airport operations and technology, traffic, supply chain management, and IT solutions for industry and commerce.

As part of this work, a series of business cluster and development platforms have been launched, known as Vantaa Business Labs. These bring together partners in specific fields to strengthen the potential and growth of the areas concerned, promote the creation of new companies, and generate R&D projects aimed at creating new products and services.

Current Vantaa Business Labs operators reflect a diverse range of businesses and include Airport Cluster Finland, Cide Cluster Finland, the Food Traceability & Safety Technology Center, Language Cluster Finland, Nano Lab Finland, and RFID Lab Finland. Network partners include Green Net Finland and Sensor Center.

Planning and implementing new projects related to specific industries represents a core part of Vantaa Innovation Institute’s activities, both independently and in cooperation with other organisations. One of the most prominent of these projects – launched in 2011 with support from the European Regional Development Fund and running to the end of 2013 – is the Vantaa Innovation Environment project.

This project is developing a ‘Living Lab’ service development and testing environment in Vantaa to provide participants with a practical framework for developing novel service models based on new technologies related to areas such as housing and traffic, and testing them in a realworld environment as part of people’s everyday lives.

Other projects currently under way include the Airports Concept project, which is focused on developing turnkey service concepts for international airports, and CityMobil2. The latter is part of the wider EU project of the same name covering 12 cities across Europe and concentrating on how automated transport systems can best be integrated into urban environments.

The Food Traceability & Safety Technology Center showroom highlights how new food safety solutions and technologies can be used through the various different stages of the supply chain, from raw material to the consumer.

Helping build a greener world and driving RFID developments

Two of Vantaa Innovation Institute’s partners closely involved in its activities are Green Net Finland and RFID Lab Finland.

Green Net Finland acts as a dedicated business network, bringing together the expertise and resources of Finnish cleantech companies, scientific and educational institutions, and public authorities – and is currently coordinating the work of Finland’s national Cleantech Cluster Programme in the Uusimaa Region as a national centre of expertise.

By promoting innovations and the growth of business, exports, and expertise in the cleantech field through publicprivate cooperation, networking, and project development, Green Net Finland is helping its some 60 members create new business in areas such as environmental monitoring and energy efficiency in urban environments.

Green Net Finland is working on a variety of projects combining public and private funding together with its member organisations and others in the environmental field, both nationally and internationally, to create new business opportunities and support the development of SMEs. Like many of Vantaa Innovation Institute’s partners, Green Net Finland is very proactive about cooperating with companies and research organisations outside Finland – in this case, to provide things like partner search and matchmaking services for companies and research organisations that want to leverage Finnish cleantech expertise.

RFIDLab Finland, for its part, is a non-profit association dedicated to helping companies make the most of the business potential that RFID (Radio- Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies offer and drive development initiatives based around them – whether in manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, logistics, or the service sector.

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(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)