Towards the Innovation City Potsdam: Research, Cluster, and Consortia – Networking Talks at VTT

Otaniemi/Espoo (Finland), 28th November 2014

On the last day of our trip we travel to Otaniemi in Espoo, Finland again. The day before we already learnt a lot about the Aalto University institutions, which have clearly influenced Otaniemi’s image as a place of great creativity and diverse innovations. In addition, Otaniemi has more than 800 companies and research centers. VTT Technical Research Center of Finland is one of the most important and is perhaps the nearest equivalent to the German Fraunhofer -Gesellschaft. 

VTT is the biggest organization for applied research in Northern Europe with an annual turnover of about 300 million Euros and almost 3,000 employees. We meet Dr. Kristiina Poppius-Levlin, Research Coordinator for biomass refining and sustainable chemistry, and Katariina Kemppainen, who is a scientist for biomass processing. They give us interesting insight into the Finnish sustainable research funding system and many-sided scientific landscape. VTT’s research portfolio comprises six areas: bioeconomy transformation, low-carbon economy, clean environment, digital world, resource efficient production systems, and health and wellbeing solutions. 

During our talks we concentrate on sustainable biomass utilization. This will be an important point of the future research cooperation between VTT, the University of Potsdam and the pearls Research Network, particularly linking it to Brandenburg’s cluster strategy.

Due to Finland’s large forestry industry, biomass is an extremely important business sector with a turnover of approx. €60 bn. each year. In Finland, 13% of all working places are in this sector. Therefore, it will become increasingly important to take part in the respective European networks that represent the sector’s interests on the European level, e.g. BioBased Industries and the Associated European Research and Technology Organization. The same is true for the EU Framework for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020. Cooperating with the many small and medium-sized enterprises in Berlin and Brandenburg within Brandenburg’s biomass strategy could be highly interesting for Finnish partners. Researchers who are interested in this topic will have the chance to meet VTT employees at the international forum meeting of the network HealthGrain at the German Institute of Human Nutrition (pearls partner institute) in April 2015. 

After we heard lots of new details about Finland’s research landscape, made new contacts and got fresh ideas for future co-operations we meet the host of day before, Mika Pirttivaara of the Rapid Action Group, and have a spontaneous lunch together. Mika introduces us to a project group that consists of members of Aalto University School of Business. They all work on the project Change 2020. Ten wooden slats with different guiding ideas lie on the table between them. Project Manager Riikka Kuusisto explains us that these topics are supposed to help interested people design inspiring working and learning cultures that support an innovative and agile project management. When putting the topics into practice they should always consider the principles “trust”, “respect”, and “joy”. With the same playful easiness that we noticed in all project teams during the last days, we are challenged to take part in the Change 2020 Competition, and get a complete set of wooden slats.

Inspired by the creative and uncomplicated handling of change management processes, we go back to the rooms of the Startup Sauna. In an inspiring co-working atmosphere, we summarize our impressions of the last days together with our hosts Mika Pirttivaara, Elina Wanne, and Joonas Ahlava of the Rapid Action Group, and can formulate the first strategic approaches on how to translate the knowledge gained into practice towards an Innovation City Potsdam.

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Text: Delegation Team,
Translation: Susanne Voigt,
Online editing: 
Silvana Seppä