Research, development and innovation

Our business leans heavily on research and development.

Our vision is to be Europe’s most valued campus developer. To achieve this objective, we invest actively in research and development. We aim to understand the increasingly rapid changes happening in the world and their effects on our business, and make the latest opportunities available to our customers.

We want to be like our owners: we research and develop, we study and teach, and we influence the development of the property and construction business in a broader sense.

In 2017, we contributed total funds of EUR 300,000 to about 17 research and development projects, the annual volume of which was approximately EUR 5 million. We also invested some EUR 500,000 in nine demo projects with a combined value of approximately EUR 1 million. Eight partner universities participated in our projects.

Seven projects were completed during the year and five new ones were started. Ten projects continued into 2018. Our completed projects investigated, among other things, student housing, bringing more life to campuses located in city centres, multi-chemical sensitivities and indoor air-related symptoms.

Our operations are significantly influenced by changing views on learning as well as the servitisation and digitalisation of the property business. This involves a shift from lecturing to phenomenon based learning and learning by doing. The goal is to make classrooms, lecture halls and other learning spaces even more capable of promoting learner activity, increasingly multi-purpose and smarter than before. At the same time, the perception of learning environments is broadening. Spaces such as lobbies, corridors and restaurants can be utilised in increasingly diverse ways as environments for learning, work and services.

Focus on digitalisation

The significance of digitalisation in the future of our business became increasingly clear during the year. The year’s most significant development projects were the Virtual Service Environment (VIRPA C) project and its continuation, the Digital User Services Ecosystem (VIRPA D) project.

In the property sector’s multidisciplinary VIRPA C project, we are developing new digital property services in cooperation with 15 businesses and three research institutes. The focus areas include the user experience of properties, life cycle management and new business models. For us at SYK, this means the development of physical and digital platforms as well as services that utilise these platforms. Existing and new service providers can offer new kinds of services to property users by leveraging solutions such as voice recognition, image recognition and sensor technology.

The funding decision on the VIRPA D project was made late in the year. The project will see us work together with nine businesses and eight research teams to develop new digital user services. Research on the same theme is also supported by the Citytrack2 project focused on creating services based on location data for users in multi-user environments and university campuses.

The significance of digitalisation is growing.

Stronger networking and internationalisation

In line with the broad policies and guidelines of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, the focus of research and development activities is on various ecosystem projects in which businesses identify new R&D partners and which generate innovation by bringing together different types of competencies. Networking increases innovation.

We are involved in 17 Tekes-funded projects aimed at promoting the objectives of Finland’s national innovation policy. This is a significant number for an organisation of our size.

The international RESTORE project is focused on sustainable development.

We also familiarised ourselves with the corporate responsibility reporting recommendations developed for use by the property sector. In future, we intend to participate in the activities of the FIBS corporate responsibility network in order to obtain the latest information on developing responsibility in business operations.

In the IN-LEARN project, we support our customers’ initiatives aimed at exporting education to developing countries.

We played a central role in having a property development professorship established at the Tampere University of Technology’s building technology laboratory in September.

We were actively involved in EuroFM (European Facility Management) and EuroCities, and our experts presented their work at international conferences in locations including Amsterdam, Bordeaux and Madrid. We also had the opportunity to give a talk to the Norwegian Ministry of Education on the subject of campus development in Finland.

As a result of research on the learning and working environments of the future, our projects will increasingly focus on joint development processes, which refers to engaging users in the process of designing premises.

Development and practical implementation in demo projects

We test the effectiveness of new solutions on people’s actions and experiences in the demo environments that we have built. This also supports the practical implementation of new solutions.

Demos involve making small-scale changes to existing environments that can be implemented within one calendar year. They facilitate testing the effects of new spatial solutions, service solutions and digitalisation on the users’ actions and experiences. The effects are measured before and after the changes are implemented. We actively collected feedback on demos with respect to indoor environment conditions as well as user experiences.

We invested slightly more than EUR 500,000 in a total of nine demo projects in 2017. The learning and cooperation premises at Kampusklubi at the Tampere University of Technology and the Tellus Innovation Arena in Oulu were made more digital. New spatial and digitalisation solutions were developed at the Tampere University of Technology’s Civit centre and the University of Eastern Finland’s Human Biology (Biomed) learning environment. A demo at the Ruusupuisto building in Jyväskylä tested opportunities for the use of outdoor areas.

Demos that are still underway include the Verso Living Lab and the lobby soundspace at the Lappeenranta University of Technology as well as the The World of Food in the Future demo at the Medisiina D building at the University of Turku.

We worked on our joint development operating model in workshops in cooperation with our partners. Training related to the operating model will begin in 2018. We have analysed the development stages of research, development and innovation activities in our organisation and streamlined our operations. As a learning organisation, we also aim to continuously take advantage of the expertise of our customers, such as universities.

We test the effectiveness of new solutions on people’s actions and experiences in demo environments.

SYK’s own research, development and innovation investments and their leverage effects

SYK’s demo investments