Nokia offers its spare innovations to fellow Finns

Nokia is hoping to get more of its R&D to market by offering its unused ideas and innovations to other Finnish companies via an 'innovation mill', part-funded by the Finnish government and several Finnish cities.

The company said it can take to market only a fraction of the ideas and concepts that its engineers and technologists come up with each year. Nokia plans to offer the surplus through a three-year initiative co-ordinated by business services company Technopolis, which operates several science and technology parks in Finland and one in Russia.

Called the Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill, the scheme is backed by Tekes, the Finnish government's funding agency for technology and innovation, and several Finnish cities - the latter are adding funding with the aim of boosting the ICT sector in their regions.

The scheme's backers said that they expect its projects to pull in as much as €8 million of development funding, including €4.5 million of public money. Indeed, the Finnish government clearly sees Nokia's surplus R&D as a valuable national asset.

"The Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill is fully aligned with the Finnish national strategic intent to develop new knowledge-intensive ventures," said Martti af Heurlin, deputy director general of Tekes. "Ideally, the initiative will create significant volumes of new international business."

"Speeding up the economy calls for a new degree of openness," added Esko Aho, Nokia's executive vice president for corporate relations and responsibility. "We hope that the Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill sets an example that companies across other sectors will follow. The current economic climate is just right for a critical evaluation of intellectual property portfolios and the release of the innovations that are more suitable for others to exploit."

The innovations released by Nokia are in areas such as environmental and energy-related solutions, location-based services and advertising, near field communication, mobile security, healthcare applications and future Internet services, among others. The objective is to evaluate the thousands of available innovations and select around 100 to be matched with the company which demonstrates the best ability to exploit them, and is then granted funding for further development and commercialisation.

A selection committee formed by Nokia, Technopolis and Tekes has already started screening and evaluating the available innovations and candidate companies interested in one or more of the ideas. Potential companies are being screened primarily from the databases of Technopolis, Tekes and the participating cities.

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