The TechCampus Turku has established an RDI service (research, development, and innovation) to facilitate cooperation between universities and universities of applied sciences and small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in the region. Now, the service has opened an application process in which companies can apply for 5,000-euro RDI vouchers for joint research projects and analysis services, among other things.
The aim of the RDI service is to increase the utilization of the expertise of the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, Turku University of Applied Sciences and Novia University of Applied Sciences in the region’s SMEs. The service promotes the research, development, and innovation (RDI) expertise of the universities to the area’s companies and acts as a contact channel for companies interested in university cooperation. The service makes it easy for companies to find suitable cooperation partners from the universities.
"Although the service is coordinated by the TechCampus Turku, SMEs from all sectors can apply for the vouchers. The challenges of companies rarely comply with only one branch of science", says University of Turku's Vice Rector and Director of TechCampus Turku, Mika Hannula.
The first concrete step in accelerating cooperation is to offer SMEs an 5,000-euro RDI voucher, which will be distributed to companies over the next five years at a value of 100,000 euros per year. Cooperation between companies and universities can mean, for example, research projects, analysis services, project application preparation, or thesis work.
“The purpose of the RDI voucher is to lower the threshold for SMEs to cooperate with universities, and it can also serve as an opening for a long-term partnership. The wide-ranging expertise and diverse infrastructure of the Turku universities are within reach of the companies, and we help find the most suitable cooperation partners for each company,” says Marko Kelahaara, network manager of the RDI service.
RDI vouchers now open for applications by companies
The application process for RDI vouchers is now underway, and the first vouchers will be granted in April. The voucher can be used for the costs of the cooperation project between the university and the company, with a maximum of 50 per cent of the project’s value.
According to a study by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (2019), only 17 per cent of Finnish SMEs use university RDI services, and Southwest Finland does not differ significantly from the average in a regional comparison. With the RDI service, the city of Turku wants to invest in a service concept that connects the area’s universities and SMEs in a practical and effective manner.
“The need to intensify cooperation between universities and, especially, SMEs is evident in the light of research data. With closer interaction, companies and the whole Turku region have even better opportunities to strengthen their competitiveness. The cooperation will also benefit the universities in the area, in addition to the businesses,” says Niko Kyynäräinen, director of business and economic development at city of Turku.