A report commissioned by the Finnish Research Impact Foundation on the current state of business-academia cooperation in Finland attracted wide attention both in the news and social media. Commentary on Twitter highlighted the continuing decline in funding from business and industry for RDI activities in the university sector since 2010 – even though research projects in Finland are funded from multiple sources.
Jointly produced by VTT Finland and Tampere University, the report was published at the beginning of February – and to date has been downloaded an impressive 631 times.
The slowdown of cooperation between academia and industry was widely noted in national news media and in several blog posts. For example, Riikka Heikinheimo, Director of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, pointed out that “if we can’t find the time to build up interaction and trust, then we also won’t find the time to align the true needs of business development with the agenda of academic research. This will frustrate both sides and cause them to drift apart.”
Another important commentary was made by Jari Hämäläinen, Chairman of Universities Finland UNIFI Vice Deans for Research. He reminded that different disciplines have different roles in cooperation and that academic career paths don’t always favour mobility between the academic world and business and industry. “All in all, I sincerely hope that universities continue to work closely with businesses and that they commit themselves to making an impact,” Hämäläinen says.
Pauli Kuosmanen, Director of Innovation Services and Partnerships at Tampere University, was likewise keen to stress the key importance of collaboration for the creation of business value and for the promotion of societal development. This is an issue that warrants serious concern. Kuosmanen believes one possible reason for the slowdown of cooperation could lie in inadequate or outdated support mechanisms: “Even the highest quality research does not automatically translate into usable business concepts, but that requires specific translation mechanisms … it’s crucial to update existing structures and support mechanisms so that they correspond to constantly changing business needs and the demands of effective cooperation.”
Click here to download the report (available in Finnish only).