Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation is helping small and medium sized enterprises participate through their businesses in joint research projects. Tekes is in the position to fund joint projects with other countries, finance researchers from other countries that are able to come to Finland, facilitate the exchange of information, and provide network partners across borders.
Tekes can finance research and development projects undertaken by foreign-owned companies registered in Finland. International companies with research and development activities in their country do not need to have a Finnish partner to be eligible for funding but the projects need to contribute to the Finnish economy. Each year Tekes finances some 1,500 business research and development projects and almost 600 public research projects at universities, research institutes, and polytechnics.
Also, Finland has established Strategic Centers for Science, Technology, and Innovation which are new public-private partnerships working to speed up the innovation process. SAlWe Ltd is one of the Strategic Centers and specializes in health and well-being. It is a non-profit company to prevent and treat diseases such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, microbial infections and inflammations, and malignant diseases.
FinNode a global network of Finnish innovation organizations connects Finland with other international experts with the know-how required to promote innovation. FinNode represents all sections of the Finnish innovation system in the countries where it operates but foreign partners are welcome to work with Finland’s central public innovation organizations. Today, the FinNode network operates in the U.S. China, Russia, Japan, and India.
In Finland, the amount of biological information is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The global market for bioinformatics is expected to reach more that $6 million in U.S dollars next year. As a result, there is a demand for new services and more efficient tools to help to create new businesses. Tekes hopes to bring players in the biosector and ICT together so that new industries and business models can be developed.
In the future, vast amounts of information will be created since the trend is headed towards tailoring solutions to fit individual needs. This is going to make an enormous impact on the pharmaceutical industry since the need for information and data will require in-depth knowledge on the biological origins of illnesses. This will require the need for high data processing capacity and will create numerous opportunities for new businesses to develop in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics field.
Today, Tekes has specific research and development programs to provide forums for the exchange of information and to establish networking between businesses and research groups. Typically a program lasts four to six years with Tekes generally financing about half of the project costs. The other half of the funding comes from participating businesses and research units. Each year, businesses participate in around 3,700 projects and research intensive universities participate in around 1,500 projects.
For example, BioIT-Solutions for the Biological Information program will require building new value networks and developing cooperation between traditional ICT players. This means that there is the need to employ biologists, geneticists, and environmental scientists. The BioIT-Solutions for the Biological Information program is expected to run for two years and has a budget of slightly more than EUR 10 million with Tekes providing EUR 6.5 million.
In another project, Finland and India are working closely together in the diagnostics area. The Indian diagnostic research and market for diagnostic products has been rapidly growing in the last few years.
The cooperative diagnostics ventures between Finland and India have produced several new joint R&D projects. The result is that diagnostics companies in both countries are cooperating to produce novel commercial innovations.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Academy of Finland (AF) are collaborating on chronic non communicable diseases, diabetes, and challenges in health service research through joint workshops and collaborative research projects. Through an agreement signed in November, both Indian and Finnish scientists are able to apply for funding through joint workshops for common future research projects. The ICMR is one of the oldest funders of medical research and the AF is a governmental funding body that supports scientific research in Finland.
The AF has cooperative agreements with two Indian funding organizations such as the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science and Technology and has future plans for collaborative efforts with the Indian Council of Social Science Research.