Research project in a whirl of commercialization activities

Samples for the TAM3WAT project are analysed in the laboratory at UTA. Kirsi-Maarit Lehto (left) stopped by to see the latest progress on the tests performed by Senior Laboratory Technician Anne Karjalainen. Student Elina Lahti is in the foreground.

Samples for the TAM3WAT project are analysed in the laboratory at UTA. Kirsi-Maarit Lehto (left) stopped by to see the latest progress on the tests performed by Senior Laboratory Technician Anne Karjalainen. Student Elina Lahti is in the foreground.

It all started back in November 2016 when the TAM3WAT project succeeded in the Tampere3 Innovation Contest. The award for the project was a two-year funding deal, which triggered a snowball effect.

“The prize money created the foundation, and also enabled a successful grant proposal and funding from Business Finland (formerly Tekes) under its ‘New business from Research Ideas Programme’ (TuTLi). In addition, the teams that won joint first prize in the Innovation Contest were admitted to the SPARK Finland programme that supports the innovations born out of research,” says Kirsi-Maarit Lehto, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tampere.

Tampere – Finland – the world

Funded by the City of Tampere, the Tampere3 Innovation Contest highlighted the potential of the submissions to benefit local business and industry.

“The number of our local collaboration partners is growing steadily. The Hiedanranta area, where the concepts of circular economy are being incorporated into the community’s lifestyle, is currently abuzz with activities that are relevant to our project. We are also hoping to launch collaboration with ECO3, a future industrial park specialising in bio-, water- and circular economy.”

From ideas to action: Impact Coaching begins on 22 May

Do you or your team have an idea for research or development? Are you unsure about the potential impact of your idea?

If the answer is ‘yes’, sign up for Impact Coaching provided by Y-kampus! The programme includes five workshops where the potential impact of ideas is reviewed from a broad societal perspective or a narrow industrial one.

While Impact Coaching allows you to tap into the expertise of inspirational and professional coaches, you will also learn from the other teams and their experiences. The programme is based on the Impact Canvas tool developed by the Tampere3 Innovation and Research Services Team. The tool is specifically designed for testing and refining early-stage ideas.

Sign up soon! Please send an email to Coach Leena Köppä and briefly describe your idea. A total of 10–12 ideas will be selected for the programme.

More information:

Watch a YouTube video of researchers sharing their experiences of Impact Coaching:


The results of extensive studies on malnutrition conducted in Malawi highlighted the role of the environmental health. The University of Tampere’s Global Health Group participated in the studies.

Access to clean water is a global issue that hits low-income countries the hardest but also affects Finland.

“The best water in the world is found in Finland, but our water infrastructure is ageing.”

Three-sided collaboration

The TAM3WAT project brings together three local higher education institutions. The project was pitched in front of the jury of the Innovation Contest by Lehto, University Teacher Marja Palmroth from Tampere University of Technology and Principal Lecturer Eeva-Liisa Viskari from Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

“Each higher education institution has a clear role in the project. TAMK prepares reports, TUT is responsible for sample procedures, and UTA for the analyses”

The project is a collaboration between more than 20 people from different research groups. Some of them are actively involved while others only contribute their expertise when necessary.

“In addition, a new member with extensive expertise on business has recently joined our TuTLi team.”

SPARK offers all-round support

SPARK is a two-year translational research programme created at Stanford University to turn ideas into valuable, high-impact solutions. SPARK Finland has been operating in Helsinki and Tampere since 2017. According to Lehto, SPARK Finland forms a network that offers support with any questions concerning the development of ideas. In practice, this means regulatory legislation, copyright protection, different routes to commercialization, potential markets and so on.

“I feel extremely grateful and humble when I see leading experts on business to support us. It is also easy to build international contacts by attending SPARK’s events that take place all around the world.”

Lehto says that the support of the other teams and fellow SPARKees in the same situation is a very important part of the programme. SPARK fosters a sense of community amidst the pressures of our competitive society.

The snowball rolls on: the project was recently accepted to the Impact Coaching programme. It provides a framework for an in-depth analysis of relevant questions and for exploring the building blocks of success.

“There are no guarantees, but we receive all manner of support. Hence, I recommend to apply for the SPARK programmes”, says Lehto.

Text: Kati Vastamäki
Photo: Mika Kanerva