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Innovations have evolved into business ventures at Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Ending financial support begins to complicate the development of ideas

Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TAMK, has developed a good support procedure to evaluate and advance new ideas by its students and staff. It has helped to establish more than ten new enterprises, and many new innovations have been licenced. However, innovation activities at universities of applied sciences are in danger of deteriorating considerably, since the current external funding to innovation services ends next year.

Markku Oikarainen and Mikko Naukkarinen
New ideas in the field of energy, for example, have been innovated at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. In the picture, TAMK's  innovation advocate Markku Oikarainen (left) and vice president Mikko Naukkarinen.
High resolution image (1,34 Mb)
Photo: Kalle Heiska

One function of universities of applied sciences is to promote new business ventures in their surroundings; this includes supporting the development of new business ideas. Ideas produced during learning have been easy to introduce for evaluating and refining in the systematical innovation services developed by Tampere University of Applied Sciences. This year, 2013 TAMK has evaluated almost 50 new ideas.

Most new ideas at TAMK have been transferred to be used as topics of students' project works and dissertations. Outside experts have evaluated many ideas as potentially new products. Their possibilities of being patented have been assessed, too. The external evaluation has been done in order to figure out chances of marketizing and protecting innovations. The Product Track service of Foundation for Finnish Inventions have financed this research for two recent years. However, the funding for universities for applied sciences ends in December 2013.  In January 2014, the Product Track is transferred to Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which certainly will aim at maintaining a national network of innovations.

Innovation services at TAMK have developed tremendously in recent years. The proprietors of new ideas have brought their innovations into confidential consultations, and the growing number of ideas has led more and more often into profitable, new enterprises. TAMK pledges to keep its own innovation activities at the current level next year.

A common, unforeseen innovation funding mechanism for universities would be useful as in most cases an expert is needed to examine the requirements of marketizing a new idea.
Another way to bring universities' new ideas into local businesses would be regional investors who are willing to take risks. If the universities' innovation processes were sufficiently supported financially at the beginning stages  – before starting businesses –  it would benefit regional business as startups.
Innovation processes at TAMK have refined ideas extensively in different fields of learning, such as forestry, bio, food and energy technology plus electrical, mechanical and architectural engineering. There have been lots of ideas regarding new utilities, as well as tools for learning and wellness. The Innovation team of TAMK expects especially new ideas that connect many disciplines; social and health services could apparently benefit from doing many things differently.

More information:

TAMK University of Applied Sciences
Markku Oikarainen, Innovation Advocate    
Tel. +358 40 826 7615
Centre for Economic, Transport and the Environment for Uusimaa            
Rauno Ervelius, Development Manager
Tel. +358 295 020 943
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Mikko Naukkarinen, Vice President
Tel. +358 3 245 2102

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.

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