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One billion euros of R&D funding for industries of the future

Jan 27, 2020 11:25:11 AM

Business Finland and companies involved in its digitalisation programs have joined forces to fund research and development activities with one billion euros in the upcoming five years. Spinverse is commissioned to help in getting the most out of the billion in this big digital transformation for Finland.

Business Finland (BF), a government organisation for innovation funding and trade, travel and investment promotion has a goal for the future. It aims to transform industries to be competitive in the global markets and the society to be sustainable as well as functional for its citizens with four digitalisation programs: Digital Trust, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Business, Smart Mobility and New Space Economy. BF has permission to provide funding for R&D activities under these programs with 400 million euros. Furthermore, the central topics of the fifth digitalisation program Connected Intelligent Industries Finland (functional in 2018-19) will take next steps as a part of a new Sustainable Manufacturing program. As the companies participating in the program are always expected to co-fund the activities also themselves, the total value amounts to one billion.

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From Connected Intelligence to Sustainable Manufacturing

The industries renewing digitalisation capabilities that were central in Connected Intelligence in Finland program (2018-2019) are now going to be utilised in the new Sustainable Manufacturing program. ”The objective of the new program is to decrease the carbon footprint of manufacturing industry by  renewing capabilities from the value chains. The program's focus is in machinery, mobile tools, electronics and shipbuilding. The enablers of new sustainability on their behalf may include e.g. digital technologies and new material solutions, but also new manufacturing approaches or business models – you name it,” says Toni Mattila, the head of the new program. “Stay tuned for the launch on March 5th!”

Spinverse’s role in the digital programs

Spinverse was contracted in September as a result of competitive bidding to support the digitalisation programs. Spinverse’s core expertise is in open innovation, where public organisations and private companies, sometimes even competing companies, innovate together in concrete projects.  “Spinverse has the understanding and experience in working with ecosystems. This was one of the decisive quality criteria,” Arto Pussinen, the head of digitalisation theme, explains.

Spinverse’s expertise on open innovation and ecosystem collaboration is put to good use when it is time to put together the joint offerings. This applies to all digital programs. “In our export promotion activities, we need to consider ecosystemic approach, what kind of joint offerings Finnish companies could have. When the companies provide wide but modular solutions together, the offering is more appealing than what companies could offer alone, and we can approach bigger customers,” Kirsi Kokko adds.

Activating companies towards EU funding  

”Spinverse’s European networks and track record in repatriating additional R&D funding for its clients in particular from the European Union wide R&D programs, such as Horizon 2020, were also an asset in the tender process,” says Arto Pussinen. ”Spinverse’s EU know-how matches the ambitious targets of our programs to activate Finns to apply and get more EU funding.” Spinverse team has already been activating companies towards EU project funding in close collaboration with EUTI. They organised EU funding info days for Smart Mobility and Connected Intelligence programs, both attracting a full house and several tens of people following the webcast.

“According to the feedback, information on the various EU funding opportunities and related support from Business Finland and private sector is highly valued and needed within the digitalisation community in Finland,” says Toni Mattila. “Our AI program targets at EU activation in Q1/2020, too, with the support from the program partners,” Outi Keski-Äijö complements.

“It is not only about EU funding. We aim to encourage Finnish top-notch players to collaborate and further develop their capabilities in Digital Trust. Keep your eyes open for the Digital Trust Challenge launch!” adds Kirsi Kokko. The program partners will first support in process design, project planning and execution of the challenge. After that the evaluation and sparring of the project ideas will be done by Business Finland’s experts.

Well aligned with the big picture

EU presidency brought a number of digitalisation related events and meetings in Finland, for example an EFECS'19 conference arranged at Finlandia Hall during the same week as Slush. Khalil Rouhana, The Deputy Director-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology of European Commission, cited President-elect Ursula von der Leyen’s political priorities in his slides: “Ensure that Europe fully grasps the potential of the digital age and strengthens its industry and innovation capacity.” Rouhana also introduced the most recent plans for digitalisation-related funding within the next European funding programs. The key topics include e.g. Digital sovereignty, Digital for a stronger and resilient economy, Digital for society and Digital for planet. The funding on digitalisation is expected to be considerable: the total allocations for the digitalisation themes for EU’s next long-term budget are planned to exceed 27 B€. [1]

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