Finland 3.0 –not just Nokia
|Dr Markku Lämsä at Tekes
By MOON-HEE ANDERSSON
Finland might just be most well-known to consumers for its cell-phones, but in fact appears leaped to nanotech years ago. Quite extensive nanotechnology research projects are already in place. Finland, traditionally a forest economy, has transformed into a modern diversified industrial economy, and as such, of course investing in nanotechnology. There is no national nanotech initiative in place, instead the nanoscience and nanotech research are, much like in Sweden, funded applying a case by case principle.
Funding institutions are Tekes (Teknologian Kehittämiskeskus –or: The National Technology Agency’) and the Academy of Finland. This year total government spending on nanotech is expected to hit somewhere in the region of €14 million. These two agencies finances research and development projects of both companies and universities. Tekes has funds of €400 million awarded from Government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Tekes also coordinates and finances Finnish participation in international technology initiatives such as FP 6. The Academy of Finland holds expertise about research funding and science policy and supports research at Finnish universities and research institutes. This support for year 2003 will amount to €185,4 million which constitutes more than 13 percent of the total government research funding in Finland. The Academy operates within the administrative sector of the Ministry of Education and is funded through the state budget.
Needless to say electronics are an important source of export revenue for Finland. During the 1990s the sector quadrupled and is today the strongest leg of Finnish industry. In response to a global market with fierce competition, very sensitive to economic fluctuations, Finland last year launched ELMO – miniaturisation electronics- programme, in an attempt to strengthen the competitiveness. The aim of the programme is to build a widely applicable know-how database focusing on core competence of the electronics sector. According to Dr. Markku Lämsä at Tekes the programme isn’t directly applications oriented, but Markku says: “Some of the company projects are already close to product development, especially projects of small and medium sized enterprises. – SME’s.” The central themes are cost-efficiency, miniaturising and integration. The total budget for this programme is €100 million. Today there are 74 ELMO-projects, 37 of which are research projects. 80 organisations, of which a majority are commercial enterprises, participate in the programme. The programme is active until 2005.
POTRA is a programme focusing on the polymer chemistry industry that’s currently undergoing extensive structural changes. In order to meet these changes the POTRA-programme was launched in 2002 and a total of €17 million have been budgeted for the four years that the programme will be operational. Mr Antero Aspiala, Programme co-ordinator says: “There are currently 16 public projects in the programme. Most of them deal with basic research, but we also have 10 industrial projects, but they are all top secret.” The programme consists of 2 legs; the first focuses on polymers for the electronics sector, and not surprisingly we find that Nokia is involved as well as a co-founder. Antero says: “They have been looking into new materials for cell-phones and different types of cells”. The second leg is focused on health and well-being. Antero explains: “Some applications that are about to be commercialised are; a new type of dental filling and self-organised supra-molecules”. There’s also another extensive nanochemistry project that started in 2001 for a period of three years. This nanochemistry project involves six expert groups from the Universities of Helsinki and Jyväskylä, the Åbo Akademi University and the Universities of Technology in Tampere and Helsinki. The project has received €2million in funding. All participants co-operate closely with universities in Europe and Japan.
PINTA (Finnish for surface) is a clean surface programme which was started in 2002, ending in 2006. €27 million of funds have been allocated. This programme is attempting to create a comprehensive understanding of the basic phenomena, from a chemists AND physics view, of clean and dirty surfaces. Focus has been on both basic research and industrial applications. The industrial goal of this programme is to create new business opportunities for Finnish companies, leveraging surface science. Dr. Anja Klarin-Henricson, Programme Manager says: “The programme has a very broad focus; we are looking into surfaces in every day life and surfaces in different processes such as surfaces in paper machines, heat exchangers and boilers. The programme has already resulted in two patent applications which will hopefully be commercialised in a near future”.
NanoNordic.com would like to express our gratitude towards Dr Markku Lämsä at Tekes for his kind assistance.