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Working together for a better, cleaner future

Finnish Cleantech Cluster
A mix of high technology, innovative companies, cutting-edge research, and four regional Centres of Expertise lie at the heart of the Finnish Cleantech Cluster. The combination represents a strong expert network with the potential to take innovation in the field to a new level.

The Finnish Cleantech Cluster sees inspiring a new level of cooperation between companies and the scientific community – and generating innovative new solutions addressing today’s and tomorrow’s energy, water, and air quality issues – as one of its key tasks. Environmental monitoring, combining ICT and environmental know-how, will be central to driving this initiative.

The four Centres of Expertise involved in the Cluster’s activities – in Kuopio, Lahti, Oulu, and Uusimaa – cover around 60% of Finland’s cleantech business and 80% of research in the field. Over 260 companies and a number of universities and research centres are involved in Cluster activities.

Projects with a combined budget of €65 million, including the Finnish Environmental Cluster for China (FECC ) and various Russian-focused programmes, have been carried out by the Cluster over the last few years and have helped create hundreds of new jobs in the field.

Understanding environmental data

Kuopio is home to a wide range of expertise in the field of environmental ICT, applying ICT methods and technology to gathering, analysing, interpreting, distributing, and using environmental data. Collaboration between Kuopio Innovation, companies, research institutes, and international partners has given birth to a number of successful new innovations.

The scope and complexity of environmental data calls for advanced computational approaches to integrate information from a variety of sources, and using technology such as dedicated sensors, advanced measuring systems, real-time monitoring, multi-dimensional analysis, and optimisation methods.

The Kuopio campus of the University of Eastern Finland, together with local high-tech companies, such as Ecomond, Visipoint, Symo, and APL Systems, have built up a solid body of internationally recognised expertise in environmental informatics and provide high-quality services and products for emission and air quality measurement, air pollution and noise modelling, waste collection optimisation and logistics, QSAR modelling, and bioprocess monitoring. See www. kuopioinnovation.fi for more information.

Environmental monitorng – combining ICT and environmental know-how – is at the forefront of work being done by the Finnish Cleantech Cluster.

Focusing on material efficiency and renewable energy

Around 10% of Finnish cleantech businesses are based in the Lahti region, with a particular focus on optimising material efficiency and energy. Renewable energy and energy efficiency research will gain further momentum in spring 2010 when a new Clean Energy Centre begins operations there to develop equipment and modelling systems for processing bio-gases, bio-oils, solar energy, terrestrial heat, and hybrid solutions.

Lahti has been a pioneer in piloting new waste utilisation technologies, and the region has achieved a waste utilisation rate of over 90%, one of the highest in Finland. The Kujala waste treatment centre, operated by Päijät-Häme Waste Management, is an excellent example of what sustainable solutions can achieve. Energy waste from the facility is delivered to Lahti Energia, which gasifies it to generate electricity. An ongoing study aimed at optimising raw material, waste, and energy flows in the Lahti area is expected to generate further new business opportunities and technology developments. See www.lahtisbp.fi for more information.

The gateway to Finnish water know-how

Oulu is the home of the world-class Centre of Expertise in the Water Industry Cluster (CEWIC), which acts as an interface between high-tech companies and water-related academic research. Environmental monitoring is a particular CEWIC strength, and involves numerous companies and research institutes such as the University of Oulu and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

kajaaniTS is a new system developed by Metso Automation for measuring total solids content in wastewater streams. See www.metso.com/kajaanits for more information.

EHP-tekniikka, for example, has developed a range of continuous water quality and quantity measurement solutions for challenging field conditions, such as those encountered in mining, wastewater treatment, agriculture, and forestry. Metso Automation, for its part, has developed the kajaaniTS, a new total solids transmitter for wastewater plants.

Utilising microwave-based measurement technology, the kajaaniTS is unaffected by changes in process conditions and can be used in applications such as optimising sludge pumping from primary and secondary sedimentation, sludge treatment, dewatering, and dry cake measurement.

See www.cleantechoulu.fi/water/cewic for more information.


Innovative public-private partnership

A number of major companies and research organisations in the environmental monitoring field can be found in the Uusimaa region in southern Finland, which has helped create innovative public-private partnerships, such as the Helsinki Testbed.

Originally a research programme developed by Vaisala and the Finnish Meteorological Institute to provide new information on atmospheric observations and strategies, it is now extending its scope to include real-time data on a wide range of environmental parameters, with the aim of creating economically attractive weather and environmental services for industry and the general public.

Research into electric vehicles for public transport feeding the new rail line being built to connect Helsinki Airport and existing rail services represents another important project in the Uusimaa region, and is expected to open up new business in smart grids, charging infrastructure, real-time information, and mobile payment systems. See www.greennetfinland.fi for more information.

The Finnish Cleantech Cluster brings together leading experts from across Finland.

> Mari Pantsar-Kallio
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)