Illustration of antimicrobial solutions
These five innovative Finnish companies are offering various ways to ensure clean indoor air and prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Image: Julia Bushueva

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Infection prevention and control

Finnish experts have come up with a wide range of innovative products and solutions to create healthier living environments and protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses, yeasts and moulds.

Zhanna Koiviola

01.11.2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of clean indoor air and proper surface and hand hygiene. With its research and technology expertise, Finland is addressing the increased demand for quality solutions that can give us peace of mind by helping to mitigate the spread of infections.

Stay safe and healthy with this Finnish quintet.

Genano

Interior of hospital

Genano’s solutions are designed to address various air purification needs ranging from securing safe study environments in schools to preventing the spread of infectious diseases in healthcare facilities. Image: Genano

Founded in 1999, this health technology company has grown into an international leader in indoor air decontamination. Genano’s patented cold-plasma technology is based on powerful electronic air purification that, according to a recent study conducted by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, eliminates 99.999 per cent of all airborne bacteria and viruses.

Genano’s expertise has been in high demand by hospitals around the world. The company’s solutions proved efficient during the SARS epidemic in 2002 and the MERS outbreak in 2014. In early 2020, Genano was quick to respond to China’s request for help in containing the novel coronavirus, delivering hundreds of air decontamination units to hospitals.

The company’s product range includes also compact and mobile air purifiers suitable for offices, schools and other public spaces. With the sales having received “a tremendous boost” over the last 12 months, Genano hopes to play its part in enabling a safe return to workplaces worldwide.

“Viruses come and go, but no matter what type they are and how they mutate, they don’t survive the 25 000 volts that our air purifiers discharge,” assured CEO Niklas Skogster.

Nanoksi Finland

Man disinfecting surface

Global demand for Nanoksi’s self-disinfecting, light-sensitive nanocoating solutions has soared following the coronavirus outbreak. Image: Nanoski

The Helsinki-based specialist in surface hygiene solutions is using Finnish knowhow and nanotechnology to guarantee bacteria- and virus-free environments for people in different parts of the world. The company’s flagship innovation is a self-disinfecting sprayable nanocoating that is activated by light and eradicates 98 per cent of microbes within two hours. Moreover, the coated surfaces remain hygienic and safe to touch for about a year.

“Studies show that the COVID-19 virus survives on different surfaces for up to several days,” reminded CEO Pasi Keinänen. “Photocatalysis is very well suited for the continuous disinfection of surfaces without chemicals. In addition to the coating, all that is needed is light.”

Widely used in hospitals, schools, offices and public transport across Finland, the innovation has also attracted plenty of international attention and found its way to a number of countries in Europe and beyond. Earlier this year, Nanoksi won the Aviation X Lab Accelerate Traveller Wellbeing Challenge in Dubai with the nanocoating, which is to be introduced in the Emirates airline’s lounges at Dubai International Airport and aboard its aircraft.

Fortum

Person opening store fridge with forearm

The hands-free Fortum handle not only helps to protect shoppers from microbes, but also gives waste plastic a new life. Image: Fortum

In a bid to make grocery shopping safer and prevent infections from spreading in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the clean energy giant has developed a hands-free handle that enables people to open doors with their arm, thus avoiding hand contact with surfaces. The Fortum handle is made of recycled material produced from domestic consumer plastic waste.

Ideated and prototyped together with TBWA\Helsinki, the innovation has been brought to commercial production and introduced to international markets through collaboration with Fiskars Group. The solution hasn’t gone unnoticed and recently received an honourable mention at the World Changing Ideas Awards 2021.

“To help fight COVID-19, our interactions with the built environment need to be hands-free,” said Fortum brand manager Jussi Mälkiä. “By innovating our surroundings, we can prevent the spread of the virus and give people a chance to do their daily chores more safely.”

Kyrö Distillery Company

Bottle of Kyrö hand disinfectant

In early 2020, Kyrö Distillery Company repurposed its production lines and joined the fight against the coronavirus by making its own hand sanitiser. Image: Kyrö Distillery

Known for its award-winning rye whiskeys and gins, Isokyrö-based Kyrö Distillery saw a dramatic drop in sales in the spring of 2020, when bars and restaurants shut their doors as Finland entered a coronavirus lockdown. Seeking to stay afloat in the challenging times and contribute to the national battle against COVID-19, Kyrö Distillery launched the production of its own hand sanitiser.

“Our intentions aren’t driven by profit but health concerns and a desire to keep our company afloat and keep paying our employees’ wages,” co-founder and market manager Mikko Koskinen clarified in March last year.

In addition to supplying the much-needed product to healthcare workers and critical infrastructure players, Kyrö Distillery started selling to consumers through retailers and its own online shop, as well as set up a small kiosk in Kallio, a vibrant neighbourhood in Helsinki. An instant hit, the hand sanitiser has been selling well ever since and will remain in production.

“We have the facilities and expertise for that,” confirmed CEO Miika Lipiäinen.

Vetrospace

A transparent meeting room

Whether used in offices, hospitals or elsewhere, Vetrospace’s pods and booths provide superior levels of cleanliness and indoor air quality. Image: Vetrohealth

Headquartered in Littoinen, near Turku, Vetrospace has made a name for itself with unique air purifying and disinfecting interior solutions. The company designs and manufactures highly hygienic pods, booths and modules, leveraging the patented controlled-microenvironment (CME) technology.

“It is created by three technologies: photon disinfection lighting, photocatalytic nanocoating and efficient particle filtration,” elaborated design manager Jukka Nummi. “In practice, this means that the technology destroys 99.9 per cent of viruses, bacteria and other harmful microbes both in the air and on surfaces.”

Vetrohealth, part of the Vetrospace group, is bringing the cutting-edge technology to the global healthcare industry. The antiviral and antibacterial modular rooms can now be found in many hospitals in Finland, as well as in the UK, Belgium, France and the US.

In fact, the US is becoming one of the most promising markets for Vetrospace, after the company secured an order for over 200 virus-free modular rooms with an undisclosed American bank earlier this year.

The article was originally published in June, 2021.

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