When you jump into the VTT tour and experience the circular economy of today, you may just stumble upon technologies and partnerships with new, innovative business activities that are already springing to life. Are you ready?
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in Northern Europe, and produces international competitively-enhancing research and innovation services for companies as well as those in the public sector. Additionally, within the field of the circular economy, VTT acts as a tour leader who brings ideas, field-experts, and technologies together.
“Solving challenges is an everyday occurrence for us; and because partnerships play a key role in creating the new innovations of the circular economy, we happily accept the role as a tour leader,” states Scientific Director Anne-Christine Ritschkoff.
Jussi Manninen, who leads the Solutions for Natural Resources and Environment business area, agrees.
“The circular economy generates new business activities but also challenges existing business models, networks and expertise. It is due to this that partnerships are needed; to act as a conductor for cooperation and the creation of novel value.”
A process that encourages ideas to bloom
Meetings play an important role in the development of new ideas, but one must have an opportunity to put newly emerged ideas into practice.
“Through piloting, it’s possible to rapidly test new business models. Under VTT’s umbrella, research and development work can continue in cooperation with universities and research centres. Additionally, Finnish towns, and even municipalities are already eagerly offering their infrastructure as testbeds. Our cooperation networks also enable the utilization of the best competences globally,” says Manninen.
New life for jeans
What kind of breeding ground does Finland offer to the circular economy?
“Finland is an interesting development environment for the circular economy, and we have a number of great examples of value-producing business activities that have been done here, such as biofuels. The circular economy can, in our opinion, include the selling or sharing of use rights, or of prolonging product lifespans by repairing and updating existing products, in contrast to the buying and selling focus of today. The circular economy also breeds a demand for new services and platforms that can bring users and service providers together.”
Ritschkoff reports that a piloting centre, where the circular economy will play an important role, is nearing completion in Espoo.
“The piloting that will take place there will focus on bio-based circulations, such as recycled textiles. Experimental machinery will be located there as well; whereby, for example, one can manufacture new fabric and garments from an old pair of jeans. This is a good example of the fact that, in Finland, the circular economy is no fantasy, but rather a concrete reality that offers opportunities for international cooperation,” states Manninen.
Text: Mia Heiskanen