Last week we attended the Research Service Days at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, Finland. The aim of this event was to provide Finnish university service providers, government funding bodies, research support and grant services and Innovation services, with an opportunity to network and share information from across the industry.
This event provided us with an opportunity to discover the challenges and topics of interest within the technology transfer industry in Finland. It was interesting to find out whether the challenges in Finland were the same as those within the UK.
There were some great sessions throughout the conference. We found the following particularly informative:
One of the talks that stood out to us was by Henriikka Mustajoki. This talk was on the “Responsible media publication on research”. The session focused on the idea of whether scientific research is true research if no one ever hears about it. We found this interesting as many researchers can find it difficult to receive recognition within their field, except through the publication of their experimental results. This is relevant to us as we provide researchers with an additional channel to promote their research and their reagents, through our portfolio.
Another session we found useful was the Workshop on Responsible Innovation Services providers. This focused on situations where there are conflicts of interest between universities and spin-outs and how these are resolved. The session was a collaborative workshop full of helpful examples and solutions, other tech transfer professionals had used in these scenarios. As these were very similar to issues faced in the UK it was interesting to see what solutions were being used within the Finnish technology transfer industry. One comment we found particularly useful, stated that the role of a Technology Transfer Office job should not be to find restrictions and reasons on why not to do something, but instead should offer solutions that enables and completes the request e.g. forming spin-out and generally doing business with industry partners.
The third session we found particularly interesting was from Professor Jyrki Saarinen. His session was on the effects of the Flagship programmes. The session provided an overview of the existing Flagship Programmes that are currently funded by the Academy of Finland. These include six projects that must each include more than two universities/research institutes and must have a commercial aim from the start. In some of these projects a company is also involved. These companies they don’t receive any of the funding but can benefit from the research. The purpose of these Flagship Programmes is to encourage active collaboration between research, business and society. The wider aim is to then foster innovation and support future knowledge and know-how in order to help to create solutions to societal challenges, develop new business opportunities, and contribute to sustainable growth. Encouraging innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset in academics is a leading industry topic within the UK at the moment, so it was interesting to see initiatives that other countries have implemented in order to encourage innovation within their academics.