FIVE FROM FINLAND: VTT spin-offs
Known as a powerhouse of scientific research and technology development, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has brought to life many of the most innovative Finnish companies.
With its long history of supporting research and development teams in the commercialisation of their ideas, inventions and innovations, VTT is the birthplace of a large number of spin-offs that have become international success stories and game changers in their industries. Moreover, 2018 saw the launch of VTT LaunchPad, a deep-tech incubator that brings together VTT scientists, entrepreneurs and investors “to develop fundable spin-off companies with great impact”.
Check out these five Finnish firms with their roots in VTT.
Founded in 2015 by a group of experts working at VTT, Paptic is addressing the global challenge of plastic pollution with its sustainable alternative to plastics in packaging. The internationally acclaimed material developed by the company is wood-based, recyclable and flexible, making it the perfect solution for various packaging needs.
The number of big brands giving the nod to Paptic’s award-winning packaging solutions is constantly growing. Finland’s major department store chains, Sokos and Stockmann, have introduced Paptic carrier bags and e-commerce mailers, while Moomin Characters has opted for Paptic reusable gift bags in its Moomin shops.
But the potential of Paptic’s innovation doesn’t stop there, offering new opportunities for food packaging as well. In October this year, Fazer’s Moomin chocolate drops became the first foodstuff packed in the new Paptic Gavia material, boosting the Finnish food giant’s sustainability efforts.
“Paptic is the only material that successfully combines strength, pleasant usability, high quality appearance and sustainability,” stated co-founder Tuomas Mustonen.
Dispelix spun off from VTT in 2015, armed with a novel display technology for smart eyewear which brings high-resolution visual information directly into the user’s field of view. Named one of the world’s 50 most promising startups in 2017, Dispelix has grown into the technology leader in see-through augmented reality (AR) displays.
The company’s full-colour, ultra-thin and high-performing displays can be easily embedded into mass-manufactured AR eyewear and headsets. The solution, backed by local and international investors, has virtually unlimited applications in both consumer and professional use.
“Our displays bring another world, a virtual image layer, on top of the real world,” noted CEO and co-founder Antti Sunnari. “This can be used for instructions, information and entertainment.”
On a mission to provide the global textile industry with the most sustainable fibre, Spinnova is commercialising a unique technology, originally developed at VTT. The award-winning method converts wood pulp directly into textile fibre without any harmful chemicals. Additionally, it saves water by up to 99 per cent compared to cotton production and ensures 100-per cent circularity.
Having proved the concept with its pilot production line, Spinnova is gradually building its commercial scale-up with major textile brands and business partners committed to long-term collaborations. One of them is the iconic Finnish design house Marimekko, which is interested in utilising sustainable wood-based fabrics for its garments. The first demo outfits produced by the two companies were presented in February this year and received international recognition.
Some other examples of Spinnova’s collaborative accomplishments include the Collection of Tomorrow designed with Norway’s Bergans and the world’s first wheat straw-based clothing developed with Fortum. More exciting products are to come after a recently announced partnership with Danish multi-brand retailer BESTSELLER.
“With our technology, we can make yarn directly, for example, from wood fibres from a pulp mill,” explained CEO and co-founder Janne Poranen. “The opportunities and potential are huge.”
Combinostics’ pioneering cloud platform solution for easy and accurate quantitative assessment of brain images and for providing clinical decision support in neurological disorders is built on years of research at VTT on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for diagnostics.
The company offers healthcare professionals, increasingly overwhelmed with data, the much-needed intelligent tools to focus on essential information and automatically obtain a report that enables early diagnosis and efficient management of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.
Boosted by a 3.9 million-euro investment a year ago, Combinostics is now scaling its solution in the US and Asia, with Japan being a particularly interesting target market due to the country’s ageing society.
“Data-driven diagnostics, big data, machine learning. Everyone realises these technologies have huge potential in healthcare. A lot will happen within the next few years,” envisioned CEO Lennart Thurfjell.
Founded in 2016, this leading provider of wireless temperature monitoring and data analysis tools for agriculture and forestry is best known for HAYTECH, an innovative IoT system for preventing hay fires and improving hay quality based on VTT’s technology.
Thanks to Quanturi, the application of the technology has been sturdily increasing in recent years. In addition to helping farmers in different countries to safeguard their hay barns against spontaneous combustion risks, it is now being widely used to monitor a range of other fermentable materials during storage, including grain, compost, woodcut and peat.
“IoT technology gives us many new opportunities. Continuous measurement and comprehensive data provide the basis for improving the quality of the end products,” said founder and CEO Nadine Pesonen. “We have good projections for our growth.”
Text: Zhanna Koiviola
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