The year 2020 will not be easily forgotten.
For VTT, it showed that it is capable of adapting quickly to changing circumstances and continuing its work without disruption for the benefit of customers.
Despite the exceptional circumstances, the impact of research for the benefit of society and industry developed well.
Customer sales kept exceeding their targets until October, even though towards the end of the year the pandemic slowed down the soliciting of new customers.
New initiatives were launched: VTT received from the Finnish government an investment grant of €20.7 million for 2020–2024 for building Finland's first quantum computer.
The coronavirus crisis has shown the importance of cooperation between the scientific world and the rest of society, making the significance of applied science increasingly visible to society. In 2020, VTT made a strong contribution to overcoming the crisis in Finland.
“The global challenges we are facing are grand, but we are also equipped with all the better tools for solving them,” said Antti Vasara, president and CEO of VTT. “Seeking solutions to challenges also means new business opportunities for companies and need for VTT research. The year 2020 demonstrated the importance of a domestic research and technology base.”
In 2020, the Group accrued a net turnover of €149 million (€147 million in 2019). Other operating income totaled €95 million (€98 million in 2019), and it largely consisted of government grants. The Group’s net turnover increased due to Business Finland funding. Of the turnover, €85 million was accrued from strategic research and EUR 64 million from research based on commercial grounds.
The Group's operating result increased from €3.1 million in 2019 to €11.4 million. The improvement in the result was due, among other things, to the increase in revenue, savings made in the operating expenses, especially in travel, and one-off coronavirus measures, such as lower employment pension contributions.
The Group's comparable operating result before special items improved substantially: In 2019 it showed a loss of €5.6 million, and in 2020 it showed a profit of €8.6 million. The result of the financial year improved by €6 million from €3.6 million to €9.6 million. The equity ratio also improved from 66% to 69.5%.
The particular mission of the parent company VTT as an independent and impartial non-profit research center is to promote the wide-ranging utilization and commercialization of research and technology in industry, commerce, and society.
In accordance with the Act on the limited liability company called VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, the company uses its profit in its entirety for its own research operations, competence development and dissemination of research results.
In 2020, the parent company had a total of 1,410 customers, of which 880 were Finnish private-sector customers, 350 were foreign private-sector customers and 180 domestic and international public-sector customers.
The domestic revenue accounted for 56% of the parent company’s turnover and foreign revenue for 44% (at Group level the figures were 55% and 45%). The parent company’s result of the financial year was €11.5 million (€3 million in 2019).
In 2020, VTT updated its strategy for the next period 2021–2025.
“Our operations are still guided by global challenges to which we develop solutions with science and technology. In our updated strategy, increased emphasis is placed on the customer's benefit and our impact, which serve as indicators of our success,” Vasara said.
Another indicator of impact is customer satisfaction, which has remained high: 93% of customers feel that cooperation with VTT has strengthened their knowledge base and expertise.
Although the pandemic challenged the whole world, VTT managed well.
“When the pandemic struck, we followed three key principles: The most important thing is to guarantee the health and safety of our staff and customers, to ensure undisrupted customer work and to emerge from the pandemic stronger positioned than we were when we entered it. We have succeeded excellently in the pursuit of this goal,” Vasara said.
In March 2020, most of the personnel moved quickly to remote work.
Using exceptional arrangements, experimental activities have continued all the time in facilities such as laboratories, and the employees doing experimental work have adapted well to the changes. VTTers in different localities remained healthy and customer work continued without disruption.
The results of the exceptional year have been compiled in an annual report published on the VTT website. It also includes a sustainability report in the form of a GRI index table. In 2020, VTT defined its sustainability priorities: sustainable foundation, thriving professionals, empowered customers and resilient society.
“Already at this point, the ongoing year appears much more hopeful. It is great that we can continue our work for a better world in a situation which has further clarified the significance of science and technology," the CEO said.
VTT’s annual report 2020 has been published on its website. A report on the tax footprint, management, salaries and remuneration as well as the financial statements (in Finnish) have been published as annexes to the annual report.