Finnish materials expertise attracts foreign investors

The goal-oriented and application-based materials and process development carried out in Tekes' Functional Materials programme has already borne plenty of fruit – world-class results have been achieved on a broad front and new business activities are emerging in both traditional and entirely new fields. The aim is also to provide the Finnish industry with the capacity to utilise the new opportunities in the front line. The final seminar for the programme organised in Helsinki on 11 December 2013 brought together almost 300 experts from different fields and provided an ideal opportunity for this.

Tekes' Functional Materials programme (2007-2013) has meant a significant increase in the national level of expertise in materials technology, created new business and renewed Finnish industry. Out of Tekes innovation funding granted to companies in the programme, 56 per cent has been allocated to SMEs and companies seeking international growth (43 projects in total). The programme has included several companies that have received international awards, such as Beneq, Savosolar, Akkuser and Canatu, or have been recognised in Finland, e.g. Onbone and Aurubis.

The programme's emphasis on coating materials and technologies has introduced several growth-seeking companies to Tekes programme activities (e.g. Coligro, DIARC-Technology, Eforit, Matox, Picodeon, Screentec, Silvergreen, Varicoats). Projects significant from the viewpoint of the renewal of Finnish industry include the development of nanocellulose at UPM Kymmene and the development of new generation tyres by Nokian Tyres.

The programme has achieved good results at a time of a challenging financial and innovation political transition. The 94 projects completed so far have generated more than 100 patents, more than 200 scientific publications and 90 theses. Moreover, 14 new start-ups have developed their own technology in the programme. 28 company projects and 29 research projects are still ongoing and will produce a significant amount of new results. The expected results for 2009-2013 for companies included in the programme amount to as much as EUR 2 billion, even though the actual impact of the development work will not be visible until the next few years.

'Tekes innovation funding for companies in the programme totalled approximately MEUR 42. It should be noted that during the programme, growth companies in the programme have accumulated more than EUR 60 million in funding from foreign investors. Tekes investment has thus added to the credibility of these companies also outside of Finland,' states Markku Lämsä, Programme Manager, Tekes.

New materials and manufacturing techniques generate new competence and business

'A central success factor for Finnish industry is the ability to apply materials expertise. The programme has formed a platform for growth for new areas of competence requiring diverse expertise in fields such as printed intelligence, applications of biomedicine, solar energy and energy storage. Strong international cooperation, the identification of value chains for both research and business and the goal-oriented commercialisation of research results have led to results,' says coordinator of the Functional Materials programme, Markku Heino from Spinverse Oy.

The development of coating technologies for new applications has been an important focus area in which several of our SMEs have already opened up significant global business opportunities using their specific key competencies. A central common feature in our new manufacturing technologies is energy and cost efficiency, which ensures competitive solutions that adhere to the principles of sustainable development thus laying a solid foundation the future.

Developer of holographic telepresence to visit Finland

Keynote speaker at the seminar was Professor Nasser Peyghambarian from the University of Arizona. Professor Peyghambarian specialises in photonic materials and is known, among other things, as a pioneer in the field of holographic telepresence. In technology developed by him, a 3D display based on photorefractive polymers produces a genuine 3D image for the viewer without the need for 3D glasses. (holographic telepresence; see video: )

'Functional materials have a crucial role in several areas of application, be it biotechnology, medicine or devices utilising electronics or optics,' says Peyghambarian, who was recently selected as a Tekes-funded FiDiPro professor related to the project Emerging nanophotonic devices using advanced materials. He works in close cooperation with the research teams of Professor Seppo Honkanen from the University of Eastern Finland an Professor Harri Lipsanen  from Aalto University. In addition to significant scientific objectives, the project aims to explore opportunities for a renewing photonics industry.

IP as a Differentiator and Driver for Finnish Industry

In his keynote speak Paul Kallmes, an IP expert  from IPCheckups, USA, highlighted salient issues in IP and discussed the opportunity Finland has to set a new standard for comprehensive and effective IP management. “A growing awareness of IP as a strategic business asset presents Finnish industry with an excellent opportunity for differentiation in international markets. In spite of some recent high-profile, IP-driven deals, the proper appreciation of IP's critical role is not yet fully established across most industries or geographies, to the detriment of many start-ups and established companies around the world. Today Finland has the chance to implement comprehensive IP management to the benefit of its industries at home and in markets around the world. Managing the complexities of IP in a timely and cost-effective manner is possible nowadays, and brings the necessary capabilities within the reach of companies at virtually any stage of their growth” said Mr. Kallmes.

Five awarded for outstanding achievement

Young Scientist: Dr. Kaarlo Paakinaho, Tampere University of Technology
'High scientific quality, good results & communications skills demonstrated'

Scientific Breakthrough: Prof. Marjo Yliperttula, University of Helsinki, 'Persistent multi-disciplinary research has proved the potential of nanocellulose in medical applications opening new opportunities for research and business'

Leading Science & international cooperation: Prof. Maarit Karppinen, Aalto University

'High scientific quality, challenging research topics & good results serving industry needs, building of battery research value chain with important international links'

Technology Breakthrough: Canatu Ltd.

'From deep science to emerging industrial technology solutions needed in flexible electronics; high-performance solutions, green material & manufacturing process, big opportunities'

Commercialization Breakthrough: Beneq Ltd.

'Systematic application & need-driven R&D resulted in two commercial breakthrough products and global business (Roll to Roll ALD & aerosol technologies for photovoltaics and flexible electronics)'

The event, the main thematic focus of which was on coating and new manufacturing methods, was part of Tekes' Functional Materials Four Seasons event series organised in the last year of the Functional Materials programme and consisting of four events that in total brought together almost a thousand experts from different fields.

Further information

Markku Heino, tel. +358 40 7191221, markku.heino (at)

Markku Lämsä, tel. +358 50 5577793, markku.lamsa (at)

Seminar programme:
Previous events and material on results obtained from the programme: