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    Rapid Tampere and Valmet: examining the future in the industrial capital of Finland

    Valmet Remote Field Services
    Valmet is the leading global developer and supplier of process technologies, automation and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries. The company has over 200 years of industrial history and strong backgound in the Tampere Region in Finland.

    For the leading industrial companies of the region, collaboration accelerator Rapid Tampere is an efficient way to find new tech partners globally. Valmet joined the programme to examine some longer-term development trends.

    80% of the industry operating in Finland is either in the Tampere Region or less than 2-hour-drive from it. That makes the region an excellent place for any cutting-edge startup to find uses cases for their innovations. The Tampere Region has what it takes: a strong industrial heritage and a spirit of innovation

    Collaboration accelerator Rapid Tampere has a goal to search globally for the best technological expertise for the region’s leading industrial companies. The aim: to help create new innovations, jobs, business and competitiveness in the region while also boosting the startups involved in the process.

    – When a Rapid Tampere challenge is formulated successfully and the process runs well, I think the result can be win-win for all parties, states Viivi Villa-Nuottajärvi, R&D Manager, Paper Machine Clothing at Valmet.

    Valmet people brand
    Valmet people brand

    Rapid Tampere – how does it work?

    Rapid Tampere was initiated by the City of Tampere and the Tampere region economic development agency Business Tampere in 2019. The programme is operated by Vertical, a company that stimulates growth through collaborative, transactional and strategic services.

    In the first round of Rapid Tampere, Valmet found three robotics solutions to test within their factories to improve worker health and safety. Valmet is the leading global developer and supplier of process technologies, automation and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries.

    Now there is the next project in progress. Valmet initiated their new project by choosing their new Rapid Tampere challenge – its theme strictly confidential at this point.

    The initial challenge was processed in a workshop, and Rapid Tampere operator Vertical made a global scouting round accordingly. In the next meeting, Vertical presented their first set of findings and the most potential tech startups available.

    – There were not yet any real eureka moments, but the process continues and we expect to see more results. We have also considered our challenge: did we formulate it in a relevant way to start with, says Lari Heinonen, R&D and Portfolio Manager, Board and Paper Service Technology at Valmet.

    Why join Rapid Tampere?

    In any company, R&D teams tend to be busy. They need to develop existing products further and research for future visions as well. When time is scarce, it is easy to focus mainly on the near future.

    – Introducing a longer-term theme on top of everything else may overload the R&D team. If there is a reasonable way to outsource some of the work, it’ll certainly help the team, says R&D Manager Villa-Nuottajärvi.

    It is not for the best interest of the company if daily duties consume all available time and the R&D team is too busy to look beyond the horizon. An innovation partner might be useful then, for example to examine which areas would be the most potential ones for the company’s own team to concentrate on.

    – There are always development trends that need to be researched more deeply. Rapid Tampere is one of the methods to do it, says R&D and Portfolio Manager Heinonen.

    Read also: Rapid Tampere yields results: improving customer insight with data, case Caruna x Dain Studios

    Valmet FABRICS production
    Photo: Valmet

    Keen interest in startups

    Villa-Nuottajärvi and Heinonen are both following closely the startup scene. What is happening there, what sort of companies emerge and what will they innovate. For example, innovations in digitalization and industrial internet of things are certainly worth keeping an eye out. 

    There might be another set of new Rapid Tampere challenges as well, for example around the themes of sustainable and green development. They will probably be processed in confidentiality. The common factor is nothing less than to bring interdisciplinary ideas into a company that has a hundred years of history.

    From time to time, R&D has to be taken further out of its comfort zone – that’s where you’ll find the ideas that will improve competitiveness right now, and make the company stand out 10–20 years later. Rapid Tampere is one of the tools to achieve these goals.

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    Author: Päivi Stenroos

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