According to an assessment made by the OECD this year, Finnish innovation policy is at the crossroads. In Finland, public RDI investments have been declining for years and, at the same time, the long recession and structural change of the industry have also led to cuts in private investments.
Simultaneously, studies have shown that 70% of the productivity increase explaining the rise in the Finnish standard of living is due to innovation. As global competition further deepens and intensifies, we cannot afford decreasing investments or to neglect innovation, if we want to continue to safeguard material well-being and the stability of society. According to the OECD, Finland needs a new RDI vision and goal-directed and well-managed implementation thereof.
The analysis made by the OECD did not come as a surprise to the Tampere Region. Many of the observations included in the analysis have been recognised in the region’s joint work on the Situational Picture in recent years and solutions for them have been sought with a pioneering approach.
The change in the scale and financing structure of innovation activities has greatly affected the Tampere Region. The Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) funding received by research institutes has plummeted and the Nokia cluster has dissolved into new business operations of a smaller scale. As a counter-measure to the change, higher education institutes have fine-tuned their profiles, focused their attention on the Academy of Finland and the EU and improved their success records in their financing application processes. Particularly positive news has been the success of the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and Tampere University of Technology (TTY) in EU funding and the success of the University of Tampere in the hard competition of the Academy of Finland.
Competence released from the Nokia cluster has materialised into a large number of new companies that have transformed into viable seeds for the ecosystem of Tampere-based start-ups. In the upcoming years, a long-term approach will boost the development of the start-up ecosystem, with the start-up alliance formed by the City of Tampere, the new region and higher education institutes assuming joint responsibility for public sector investments within the area.
The OECD is encouraging Finland to improve the guidance and effectiveness of the research and innovation policy as well as to make interaction between the higher education institutes, research institutes and enterprises tighter. The formation of the new higher education community in Tampere is nationally the most significant structural reform to improve effectiveness. It must also receive the needed support and funding from the Government. Raising social interaction to a new level also lies at the core of forming a new university. The strong traditions of the higher education institutes lay good foundations for this, together with the ambitious development of the campus areas and in the next development phase of the open innovation platforms.
The OECD also recommends the development of new strategic partnerships between private and public sector. For years, the Tampere Region has been implementing and managing the most interesting partnerships on a national level, such as the strategic Dimecc projects, alliance-type construction projects, joint Demola projects of students and companies and in the innovative procurements of the municipalities. The management and facilitation of partnership operations have become the profiling capabilities of the innovation work of the Tampere Region and the operation models created are being reused in different themes. In the development of, for example, circular economy, partnership operations have already yielded quick results as the ECO3 area has become a national spearhead project.
At the crossroads, correct choices must be made. The choices made in the Tampere Region have been modern and in accordance with recommendations issued later on. We have excellent preconditions to create and implement the new innovation vision of Finland.
Petri Räsänen, Director, Innovation and Foresight, Council of Tampere Region
Situational Picture of Innovation 2017 in traffic lights
Situational Picture of Innovation 2017 - Contents
- Value Network Capability
- Funding of RDI
- Growth Companies
- Higher Education Institutions
In depth analyses and about the process
- Innovation platforms
- Analysis of the 2012-2015 growth period
- Comparison of regional performance in value network capability
- Bio and circular economy
- Situational Picture - the process
- Workshops in a nutshell