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Finland launches R&D project into optical measurement systems

21 Jan 2016

VTT-led Terävä ("Sharp") project to develop new online, optical sensing systems for diverse industries.

The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes is investing at least €3 million what it is calling “the biggest joint project on optical measurement in Finland so far” – which will eventually have a total budget of €7million including contributions from participating companies and agencies.

The research and development projects, branded Terävä ("Sharp"), are intended to develop new online, optical sensing systems for diverse industries. Launched at the end of 2015, they are intended to develop new measurement techniques for industrial sensors such as are needed in the pulp and paper sector, which alone accounts for two-thirds of the country’s significant forest-based industries, as well as in other industry sectors. Ultimately the projects are expected to develop new products and systems with a market value of at least €125 million, says the project management team.

The major research partners are Valmet Automation, national research agency VTT and Tampere University of Technology (TUT) with several small and medium size companies. The so-called “Terävä project” parties are motivated by the potential new business areas especially around quality controlling for web-like products as well as within medical, food, packaging and electronics industries.

Research hub

VTT’s Aikio Mauri, Principal Scientist on the project, told optics.org, “Most of the SMEs involved are spin-offs from VTT. The idea is that when we have developed these new sensing technologies they will be commercialized by the SME partners. The target industries are pulp and paper, electronics, food and pharmaceuticals. The main project aims are top develop new sensors not already available or cheaper versions of existing systems.”

The biggest research company in the project is Valmet Automation, based in Espoo, which is familiar with the technology needs in the main application area. The other companies - Spectral Engines, Oplatek Group, Advacam, Offcode, TimeGate Instruments, Rikola, FocalSpec and Kemira provide a great variety of measurement technologies. The project will also be looking into the market potential outside the main application area.

Valmet Automation technology manager Markku Mäntylä added, “The Terävä project will support our research and development work on web-like products' online quality measurement and control technologies. The long-established collaboration between VTT and Tampere University has facilitated the development of our application area know-how in the research institutions and now the Terävä project makes it possible to combine the expert knowledge of various researchers.”

Professor Risto Ritala from TUT, said, “This project’s consortium is exceptionally interesting for us. The best measurement systems are developed by combining various technologies. Our Department of Automation Science and Engineering brings more than 15 years of experience of developing image-based technologies for measuring quality and structure of web-like products.”

Tekes Financial Manager Timo Laurila concluded, “This project succeeds in the main aim of Tekes, which is to bring together consortium parties and encourage the interaction of companies of all sizes with the research institutions. Also, this project was initiated by actual research needs of the companies concerned so there is the will to work with the best researchers in the field. All the public research results by VTT and TUT are applicable both by the consortium companies for their own research projects plus more widely in the Finnish and international business sectors.”

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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