Solutions for a sustainable and developing society

Objectives and targets of the National Roadmap for Research, Development and Innovation: A new beginning for RDI cooperation between companies and research organisations

Finland’s competitiveness and wellbeing are built on competence, research and innovations. Finland’s rise from the emergency caused by the pandemic and success in global competition require the production of new knowledge, innovations that bring social benefits and added value, and a high level of competence.

Research and innovation activities are undergoing change. Alongside universities and research institutions, there is a narrow group of spearheading companies that invest heavily in research, development and innovation (RDI) activities. Finland needs more companies engaged in RDI activities. The research, development and innovation of companies in the SME sector must also be activated. A share of turnover larger than at present must be invested in RDI activities. It must be possible to step up and intensify public–private partnerships with new incentives for cooperation, such as a new partnership model. Risk sharing between companies and the public sector must be predictable, simple and encouraging. Diversification of the economic structure and improvement of the productivity trend must be one of the most important long term goals of innovation policy. Achievement of this goal requires that those doing RDI work are supported by new policy measures. Incentives for research and innovation must diversify the utilisation of research based knowledge in society and must encompass all aspects of society’s activities. Research and innovation activities can improve the resilience of society and its operational capacity in unforeseen crises, such as the exceptional situation posed to society and the economy by the coronavirus. The starting point is to support — in addition to the business community — various societal actors in various ways and to strengthen communities, trust in Finnish society and social equity undermined by the coronavirus. At the same time, the foundation is laid for sustainable economic growth.

Competence must be taken care of and constantly renewed. High level competence is the base on which innovation activities can be built. These activities are ambitious as to their goals, utilise the strengths of regions, sectors and organisations, are internationally competitive and support the renewal of society. RDI funding must be predictable and must develop the RDI system in a balanced way. Higher education institutions and research institutions should be widely encouraged to engage in mutual interaction and ambitious joint activities with research users. The target level must be raised clearly. The incentives for this should be effective.

The importance of research and innovation is emphasised in many of the European Union’s policy priorities and programmes, in particular in support of jobs and growth, the digital single market, and energy, environment and climate measures. The intention is to exploit the outputs of research and innovation at Union, national and regional level, with a view to maximising European and national innovation potential. An increasingly greater share of international funding for research and innovation focuses on resolving broad societal challenges. Climate change is the most essential of these. Finnish actors must be well prepared to utilise European and other international RDI funding, both in Europe and more widely. Finland must gain access to effective RDI networks and support the activities that take place in them. This requires support for building networks, competence and advice on applying for funds, as well as sufficient domestic matching funds. RDI policy must be coordinated more strongly than before, both in Finland and internationally.

Increasing the intensity of RDI activities — roadmap

Finland must seize the opportunities brought by global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development and offer solutions to them. New ideas, knowledge and technologies are the most important sources of growth and productivity. The Government has set the goal of increasing Finland’s expenditure to GDP ratio for research and development from the current 2.7 per cent to 4 per cent by 2030. To achieve this, we need a common vision and missions, more ambitious RDI activities and investments from both the public and private sectors. Without a significant increase in private sector investment, the goal will not be achieved.

The RDI roadmap has been prepared to promote the achievement of this goal and the resulting sustainable growth, as well as to create an operating environment that encourages both Finnish and foreign companies to invest in RDI activities in Finland. The aim is for Finland to remain at the forefront of both the production of new knowledge and the development and application of technology. It is important that Finland also quickly adopts knowledge and competence produced elsewhere. Securing the availability of the required human resources is central to the roadmap. The social and economic challenges posed by the coronavirus must also be met through research and innovation activities and the introduction of new solutions and practices. The pandemic has shown that social sciences and the humanities play an important role in foreseeing future developments and in understanding the actions of individuals and population groups so that we can better understand and foresee the actions of individuals and populations.

In accordance with the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government, several policy preparations related to and affecting research, development and innovation are being prepared. Unnecessary duplication between the RDI roadmap and the development activities identified and agreed in other processes must be avoided (Figure 1). The vision and roadmap 2030 of the Research and Innovation Council, the vision and roadmap for higher education and research in 2030, and the speech on innovation policy by a public servant of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment have served as the starting points for the preparation of the roadmap.

Figure 1. RDI roadmap and other current policies and processes related to research and innovation policy.

The roadmap identifies three interlinked strategic development areas: competence; a new partnership model; and an innovative public sector. They implement the goals of the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government to make Finland the most attractive and competent environment for experimentation and innovation in the world, producing sustainable solutions to societal challenges.

The roadmap has been prepared in cooperation by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, in extensive consultation with the other ministries and RDI stakeholders. Measures requiring government funding for the roadmap are examined within the framework of the government’s overall spending limits and are decided in the government financial planning and budget processes. The Ministerial Working Group on Competence, Education, Culture and Innovation will guide the implementation of the roadmap and decide on its updates during the term of Prime Minister Marin’s Government.

The preparation and implementation of the measures identified in the roadmap require close dialogue and cooperation with the ministries, research organisations, the business community, financiers and other stakeholders in research and innovation.