Unique collaboration strengthens data-driven life science manufacturing



Business Finland recently granted funding to a 11.7M€ project led by the University of Turku, which seeks to enhance advanced pharmaceutical and life science manufacturing in Finland. The LifeFactFuture project combines world class-excellence of Finnish life science companies, technology companies and academic researchers, and the funding decision demonstrates how public funding for research and development can enable important university–industry research cooperation. The funding decision is among the largest received at the University of Turku in the history of Business Finland.

The LifeFactFuture consortium includes the University of Turku, the University of Helsinki, and some of Finland’s leading life science manufacturers, data and technology companies. In addition, the Finnish Medicines Agency, Fimea, is involved in the project to ensure compliance between technological development and pharmaceutical legislation. The goal of the project collaboration is to speed up the introduction of digital solutions and more efficient utilization of data and to make Finland the most attractive place in the world for investments in data-driven life science manufacturing.

“This large-scale and very significant project proves what can be achieved when we combine the thinking and methods of strategic foresight with the research excellence of the University of Turku and Helsinki across academic disciplines, for example, in life sciences. With leading companies in the pharmaceutical industry and in the digital transformation directly involved in the consortium, we now have a project at hand that has the potential to produce not only new types of industrial solutions and products, but also high-level academic research”, says leader of the research project, Professor Toni Ahlqvist from the University of Turku.

In the project’s funding decision, Business Finland states that the unique consortium expertise can make Finland a strategic and profitable manufacturing country and improve its position as a hub for global business ecosystems. The project strengthens the competitive advantage and ability of the companies in the field in international markets and aims to increase turnover for both the life science and technology industries.

Committed expertise involved in the project

Three major players in the life science industry, Bayer, Orion and Revvity, have their own projects within the consortium. The three companies are all among the most prominent industrial stakeholders in the Turku area. In addition, the LifeFactFuture consortium includes the technology sector with Brightly, Bittium, Darekon, Nokia, and Vaisala involved in the consortium and a wide range of other subcontractors. The project is linked to Bittium’s Seamless and Secure Connectivity Business Finland Veturi project and its theme of significant development of operational models that promote the agile development of medical software (RegOps).

Tomi Penttilä, Head of Bayer’s Supply Center in Turku, sees an innovative and cooperative ecosystem with strong public commitment to research and development activities as significant pillars of Finnish industrial competitiveness.

“Finland has the technological excellence, for example in the effective utilization of artificial intelligence and data, which is also of great interest internationally. Cooperation projects like this create a foundation for future competitiveness and strengthen Finland’s attractiveness as an investment destination,” says Penttilä.

The technology companies Bittium and Nokia stress how important the project’s attention to the interaction of technology, industrial excellence, and regulation is in the modern world.

“Due to the expansion of regulatory requirements for medical devices and the need to respond to market area-specific requirements, the rapid development of operating models has become a development area of paramount importance. In the best case, operating models and processes have a significant impact on the market launch of new products by companies offering medical devices,” says Bittium’s Senior Manager, QARA, Taneli Vääräniemi.

Finland Futures Research Centre leads the consortium with a multidisciplinary research group from the University of Turku that includes experts in computer science, information technology, production economics, mechanical engineering, and technology and strategic foresight. The project is coordinated by Turku School of Economics, where it involves research groups such as the Laboratory of Business Disruption and the Futures Knowledge Distillery at Finland Futures Research Centre. From the University of Helsinki, the Industrial Pharmacy and Sustainable Pharmacy research groups from the Faculty of Pharmacy lead a key work package on Life Science Manufacturing Excellence.

Nokia underlines how secure connectivity underpins modern industrial manufacturing.

“Data utilization is the foundational key to digitalization and the green transition. Secure connectivity guarantees the generation, transfer and processing of data through all stages of manufacturing and also enables the important creation of digital twins as part of the whole industrial metaverse,” comments Veli-Pekka Luoma, Ecosystem and Innovation Manager at Nokia.