Our vision is to be Europe’s most valued campus developer. To achieve this objective, we actively invest 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 2019, we contributed a total of EUR 310,000 to 16 research and development projects. In addition, we invested, together with universities, a total of EUR 822,500 in six demo projects. Six shareholder universities, as well as some universities of applied sciences and sector research institutes, participated in our projects.
Ten RDI projects were completed during the year and six were started. They will continue in 2020, and some preparations for these projects will still take place during the year. The completed projects have provided us with information and partners for developing a digital culture of operations and digital services for multi-user campuses. We have been able to study learning environments in different cultures and have gained a better understanding of the requirements of education exports at our customer universities. We also cooperated with Sitra on circular economy, and this cooperation produced one Thesis. The development of needs-based maintenance is also part of our service production inspired by sustainable development. Communal working premises and solutions where the premises are seen as a service have also created new practices for our rental business. Our multi-disciplinary research work has provided our work with extensive information on law, ICT, energy, construction economy and organisational sciences.
The nationally significant virtual service (VIRPA) projects and various projects integrating digitalisation and e.g. energy efficiency have supported the development of different models of operation, both with us and in partner organisations. Flavoria, the restaurant world of the future in the new Medisiina D building, is a good example of that. Flavoria is a research restaurant that produces multi-disciplinary information and consumer understanding for sustainable business development. It is a lunch restaurant and cafeteria that also doubles as a continuous research and development laboratory. There the customers can see the nutritional contents of their meals or test the multi-sensory laboratory Aistikattila®, a systematic research, design and test facility for multi-sensory experiences. Remote presence, digital interior decoration and various applications and services based on the data they produce have been at the focus of development work.
As a learning organisation, we are constantly seeking to utilise the competence of universities and its partners in our RDI activities. The SYK Academy serves as a multidisciplinary forum for the company’s future RDI activities. The purpose of the forum is to make the entire personnel more familiar with the Group’s valuable R&D investments as well as serve as a platform for increasingly multidisciplinary development areas and needs in cooperation with universities. The core team of the Academy includes members representing each of our business teams. As SYK Academy Ambassadors, they help maintain an effective dialogue between research and business as part of our business operations.
The SYK Academy has organised monthly RDI afternoons, where our organisation and partners are briefed on research results. To celebrate our jubilee year, we organised in 2019 a Campus Seminar event where our international researcher partners of the past ten years shared their experiences and views on campus development and changes in the working and learning environments.
Our joint development work model CO-SYK is involved in the changes of learning and working environments, and we are constantly developing our method of operations together with users, partners and researchers. During 2019, we applied the joint development approach both to minor and major development projects. We are collecting feedback from them in different ways and can further develop our operations on that basis.
For its part, SYK has also been involved in authoring publications, and among other things, the Campus Arena is a case subject in the third publication of the European RESTORE network that discusses sustainable development and property maintenance.
The SYK Academy is also continuing its meritious trial culture where we test the effectiveness of new solutions on user’s actions and experiences in the demo environments that we have built. The demos involve making small-scale changes to existing environments that can be implemented within one calendar year. They allow us to test the effects of new spatial solutions, service solutions and digitalisation on the users’ actions and experiences. We measure the effects before and after the changes are implemented.
In 2019, a demo investment totalling EUR 530,000 was allocated to six demo projects. For example, an intelligent parking solution was implemented in Lappeenranta, and a virtual forest at the Joensuu campus of the University of Eastern Finland. In Oulu, we participated in a digitalisation solution for the campus and in Tampere in the construction of a sensory room environment serving the education and training of mental care personnel.