The Academy of Finland's Strategic Research Council (STN) has made a decision on the funding for the strategic research consortia. The Aalto University led consortia received the following for the period 2015–2017: DDI (Digital Disruption of Industry) – €3.7 million; ROSE (Robots and the Future of Welfare Services) – €3.1 million; SET (Smart Energy Transition) – €3.3 million; and PVN (Platform Value Now: Value capturing in the fast emerging platform ecosystems) – €3.1 million. All theese projects set out to identify the impacts and opportunities brought by disruptive technologies.
In addition, Aalto is participating in three other consortia. In total, STN decided to grant funding to 16 consortia, with total funding granted for the period 2015–2017 amounting to €52.5 million.
The next industrial revolution
The DDI project, led by Professor Martti Mäntylä, involves a total of ten different research groups from a wide range of institutions: Aalto's Schools of Science, Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, Lappeenranta University of Technology, the University of Turku, the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), and the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA). The starting point for the project is the rapid development of industry: IT processes and technologies, ranging from sensors to cloud computing and computer modelling, are giving birth to entirely new opportunities for the production of networked, smart products which can bring significant added value. The goal is to model the change taking place, implement active measures that seek to impact its direction and tempo, and make policy proposals based on the research results that would support the success of Finland and Finnish companies.
'It has been estimated that what we are dealing with here is no more nor less than the next industrial revolution', Dr Mäntylä noted. 'We need research that will help Finland to navigate through the approaching storm and emerge victorious.'
Boosting wellbeing with service robots
The ROSE project, led by Professor Ville Kyrki, seeks to find ways to connect up in a productive and ethical manner two large changes taking place in Finland and other post-industrial societies: a growing demand for wellbeing services and the increasing prevalence of service robots. In addition to Aalto University, participants in the project include Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), Laurea AMK, Tampere University of Technology, the University of Tampere and the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT). The aim of the project is to carry out multi-disciplinary research into how advances in service robotics enable both product and service innovation and also reforms to wellbeing services.
'To be able to guarantee quality services into the future, we need to establish what new opportunities robotics will offer for health care and wellbeing services. In order to get clarity about the real opportunities available, it is essential that the research is done in cooperation with service providers and service users', Dr Kyrki stressed.
50 billion dollar transformation
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that the global energy revolution, which is transforming the roles of producers and users, will give birth to a 50 billion dollar market by the year 2035. The SET Project, led by Professor Raimo Lovio, involves researchers from both Aalto's School of Business and School of Arts, Design, and Architecture as well as University of Helsinki, Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), the Finnish Environment Institute, the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), the Government Institute for Economic Research, and the University of Sussex. They will be analysing the energy revolution, its progress, and its positive effects on business areas important to Finland, such as the bioeconomy, clean solutions and digitalisation. Opportunities and solutions will be sought in cooperation with industry, policy makers, and Finnish citizens, all of whom are already part of the project through the direct involvement of Finpro/Cleantech Finland, Motiva, the City of Lappeenranta, and Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre.
'Finland has a good chance of success in the energy revolution that is taking place. In this research project, we focus on promoting the measures and actions required for the implementation and development of smart, energy-efficient and renewable energy solutions regardless of whether the target group is businesses, policy makers, or consumers', Dr Lovio explained.
The platform economy is reforming society
The taxi and accommodation services offered by Uber and Airbnb are telling examples of how the platform economy can bring staggering growth, undermine established business models, and raise questions regarding the institutional conditions of such services. The PVN Project, led by Professor Ahti Salo, comprises research groups from Aalto's School of Science and School of Business, the University of Jyväskylä, the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Imperial College London, the International Institute for Applied System Analysis, Stevens Institute of Technology and the Wilson Center. These groups will be working in together with the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Digile, SSAB, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, among others.'The platform economy offers huge opportunities to those who are aware of them. In order to understand and seize these opportunities, we need to work out new value creation and business models, carry out horizon-scanning activities across a broad spectrum, weigh up decision options systematically, analyze institutional bottlenecks, and assess impacts on the national economy', Dr Salo explained.