How are research ventures currently funded?
In the Finnish as well as in the European system research is currently funded mainly by the government, EU and private-owned research foundations. In recent years, many universities in Finland have started their own innovation hubs and increased efforts in commercializing research because research funding is scarce and more impact-oriented. Business Finland plays a major role in the Finnish research ecosystem in supporting research-based innovations takeoff and become businesses.
What makes investors hesitant?
If we compare research-based innovations with other innovations such as software of mobile apps, the main differentiator is time. Research is time-consuming, results usually take years. Before an innovation in research is ready for market, much time and money must be invested in the actual research. However, this work makes research-based innovations sustainable in the long run. Ideas are not created on a whim but rather through in-depth understanding of the issue or technology at hand. This means that research can help solve much bigger and more complicated issues than “lighter” innovations. Also, an innovation does not necessarily turn into a profitable business. Just because there is an innovation does not mean there is a market for it. Investors usually want to pair researchers with business people to determine if there is a market for it.
What needs to happen in the next few years?
We need more communication between research institutions and private investors. Research could benefit the private sector much more if there was a clear understanding of how researchers’ expertise could be used in startups as well as in established organisations. We need to find a way to build bridges between the two. In research we see a trend of collaboration between different fields. We are expanding our horizons beyond the tech bubble and towards more human approaches to pressing issues such as climate change and robotisation. We will see more human sciences and artistic research combined with technology and natural sciences. The more we mix and merge, the more innovative solutions and business ideas we can create. Investors should stay open to curious endeavors in research and not be too narrow-minded when looking for prominent investments.
5 tips for an investor who is considering investing into research
More Information on how the research world works and where you should look for interesting opportunities right now?
Aurora Airaskorpi, Senior Communications Specialist at Kaskas Media and Head of Research Pitching Competition Skolar Award, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amel Gaily, Deal Flow Manager at FiBAN, email@example.com
Photo credits: Vilja Pursiainen / Kaskas Media
Top picture: Sandra Jernström, winner of Skolar Award 2018
Bottom picture: Anna Stöckl, Skolar Award participant 2017
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