HighTech Finland › Innovation in Finland › All articles in this section   ›  Leveraging the entire innovation process

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Leveraging the entire innovation process

ICT, functional materials, nano technology, bioenergy, enzymes, and laser welding are just some of the areas where VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed world-class R&D expertise. VTT combines its cutting-edge scientific knowledge with extensive technological and practical process know-how to improve its customers’ competitiveness and offer them new business opportunities.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

VTT is the largest multidisciplinary technological research organisation in the Nordic region, offering R&D services covering everything from electronics to biotechnology, construction, and infrastructure development. Whatever the area, VTT’s aim is to help its customers see beyond the businesses they have today to the businesses they could have in the future.

Heavy involvement in EU projects and national development programmes, together with extensive international and regional networking, help make technology transfer a success and provide access to leading experts and research and business partners worldwide.

With its multidisciplinary R&D expertise and global and domestic networks, VTT can help customers create new and improved products and processes, and use innovation to open up new business opportunities.

VTT’s services cover the entire innovation process, from technology scenario work and strategic research through testing and proving concepts to developing real-life products and services. Development work is complemented by testing, consulting, and certification services, as well as assistance with managing areas such as industrial property rights. The aim is to create a seamless chain extending from strategic research all the way to commercialisation.

Putting services at people’s fingertips

VTT’s work in managing the SmartTouch international project aimed at finding new applications for mobile devices that go beyond what we have become used to is typical of VTT’s commitment to pushing the technological envelope.

The aim here is to put services into people’s hands in a very real way – by enabling users to simply touch an item on the menu of a local catering service for the elderly in Oulu in Finland on their mobile phone, for example, to automatically place an order and bring the meal directly to someone’s home. The same technology can also be used for paying for shopping or public transport tickets.

This ITEA/Eureka project is based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which enables data to be acquired and transmitted between mobile devices and service systems – by touching an NFC tag or a reader on a bus or at a shop checkout.

Moving things along with RFID

VTT is also developing long-range identification RFID-based technology, in China and together with Daimler Benz, amongst others.

VTT has joined forces with industrial and research partners to develop new energy generation technology that can help reduce energy use and emissions.

A project under way in Wuhan, a city of 7 million people, will see RFID readers installed on all the city’s bridges this year as the first step in introducing a new traffic and road toll monitoring system that will eventually cover the entire city.

Daimler Benz is already using the same RFID technology to identify car parts and speed up production of Mercedes S-Class cars. VTT’s RFID tags are ideal for metal surfaces and outperformed competing RFID tags tested by Daimler Benz during a pilot trial by a wide margin.

Biomaterials for tissue engineering

Working with the Tampere University of Technology and Nanofoot Finland, VTT has developed a direct-write, 3D forming method for producing nano- and micrometer-scale structures for use in tissue engineering.

The new process is based on ultra-short pulse laser technology. When focused inside a photopolymerisable material, the radiation from the laser causes a reaction in which two photons are absorbed simultaneously, polymerising the material. As fabrication occurs below the surface of a liquid material, polymerisation can be focused very precisely to a point less than 1 micrometer in diameter.

High-accuracy biomaterial structures are essential for tissue engineering scaffolds or cell culture platforms, where features must follow the dimensions of cultured cells. So far, the smallest features achieved in the project have been about 700 nanometres wide.

The process can also be utilised in manufacturing structures for other applications, such as optical waveguides, photonic crystals, and microfluidic channels.

Helping mitigate climate change

Recognising the challenge that climate change poses, VTT has joined forces with industrial and research partners on a number of projects to develop new energy generation technology, utilise new energy sources, and innovate products and manufacturing methods that help reduce energy use and emissions.

The Biorefinery project is focusing on industrial production technologies based on renewable raw materials, particularly technologies for producing second-generation transport biofuels, chemicals, and/or materials from biomass.

In collaboration with Foster Wheeler and other partners, VTT is studying a new technology that will enable coal to be utilised more efficiently in energy generation without releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, by firing it in the presence of pure oxygen. R&D is also progressing on work on supercritical circulating fluidised bed (CFB) boilers that offer carbon dioxide emissions 15-20% below those of conventional boilers.

VTT is actively developing Near Field Communication technology in the international SmartTouch project.
> Jouko Suokas
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)