The recession underlined the great need for and key role played by public funding in sustaining research and development during an economic downswing.
“During a recession, there is a risk that companies and public-sector organisations cut back on R&D and innovation. This will undermine their competitiveness when the economy picks up again. Therefore, it’s extremely important to encourage companies and public entities to stick to their R&D plans during a downswing,"says Dr Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara, Director General of Tekes
"When the economy is sluggish, the impact of public incentives in support of innovation is more tangible while at the same time the need for public financing increases. Government incentives help ensure that companies are in full swing when the economy recovers."
Hundreds of products, services and patent applications generated by the projects
Nearly 2,000 projects funded by Tekes were completed in 2008, generating close to 500 products, approx. 450 services and over 270 production processes. Additionally, the projects spawned almost 800 patent applications and over 1,000 theses.
The long-term effects of R&D and innovation activities will be reflected in the emergence of new companies and forms of business, corporate growth and internationalisation, and improved national competitiveness.
R&D and innovation projects worth one billion euros
In 2008, Tekes invested 516 million euros in close to 2,000 research and development projects, the total spending amounting to nearly one billion. Of this, corporate R&D and innovation accounted for 293 million euros and research at public universities, polytechnics and research institutes for 223 million euros. In terms of complexity and technology, most projects represented the highest level of advancement, at least by national standards.
In 2008, the demand for Tekes funding fell slightly when compared to the year before. In particular, this was reflected in the number of applications filed by universities and government research institutes. All in all, companies and public organisations field applications for 3,100 projects worth a total of one billion euros.
As a result of legal reforms, Tekes is now in a position to expand its sphere of activity. In 2008, 23 per cent of all the funding provided by Tekes was allocated to service-related innovations. Altogether, non-technological projects, such as business competence, service models, labour market and design, accounted for 37 per cent of the total.
An increasing share of Tekes funding was allocated to projects launched by small and medium-size enterprises. Of all the funding granted to companies, 62 per cent went to SMEs and 80 per cent to firms with fewer than 500 employees. A new form of support introduced in 2008 was the funding intended for young innovative companies in order to substantially accelerate the growth and international expansion of the most promising enterprises.
A little over half of the funding was allocated to Tekes programmes and strategic centres of science, technology and innovation. A total of 30 Tekes programmes and 5 programmes at the strategic centres of science, technology and innovation were in progress at the end of 2008.
International cooperation increased to some extent. Nearly 60 per cent of the funding was allocated to projects involving international cooperation. At the same time, Finnish companies took active part in the calls for proposals in the context of the EU’s 7th Framework Programme. The success rate among Finnish companies was 23 per cent and the total amount of funding to be received by Finland is estimated at 200 million euros.
Eeva Landowski | alfa
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