CHARM: Finnish organisations benefit from EU-funded international consortium projects

CHARM is a European collaboration to develop industrial IoT solutions for challenging environments such as mining and paper mills. During the four-year project ending in spring 2024, digital solutions have been developed in cooperation between 37 partners from ten different European countries. Project administration support for CHARM was provided by Spinverse. Seven organizations from Finland which joined the project reflect on the benefits of joining an international consortium.

International EU-funded consortium projects are sometimes perceived as challenging and complex. However, it is important to remember that they offer significant opportunities for business development, renewal, networking, and internationalisation. Finnish organisations are no exception. The organisations joining the CHARM project from Finland were Valmet, SSH Communications Security, Beneq, NOME, Sandvik, Lapland University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University.

Good experiences from joint project

Among other things, the CHARM project members developed IoT-based applications for paper machines and digitalisation of the mining environment. Researcher Maria Ines Robles from Tampere University found collaboration to be a very fruitful method, where the business partner Valmet provided a real industrial environment for testing and validating the developed solution. Maria Ines Robles believes that the successes in the CHARM project will encourage similar EU collaboration in the future.

Research related to the CHARM project area has also been conducted at Lapland University of Applied Sciences. They have participated in tests to verify the research. Specialists Antti Niemelä, Jessé Forest and Soile Sääski from Lapland University of Applied Sciences found cooperation with companies very rewarding, as it provided challenging and interesting development tasks from large companies such as Valmet and Sandvik.

According to Vice President Ilpo Ruohonen from SSH Communications Security, the collaboration with Valmet and universities provided valuable lessons for their own product development, insight into market needs, and improvements to the underlying technology of the solution.

Vice President Sami Sneck from Beneq notes that the project succeeded in demonstrating the functionality of ALD coatings, which significantly advances the commercialisation of the technology. Cooperation within the extensive consortium has also opened new connections between European actors.

Finnish startup NOME developed predictive maintenance solutions for the manufacturing industry. “The project provided an environment where we were able to develop and test our condition monitoring solutions under real operating conditions. Especially the test environment provided by Valmet has helped us develop entirely new measurement technology. The results obtained from the project will be used in future commercial projects,” says NOME’s CEO Tommi Helander.

According to Commercialization and Network Lead Miika Kaski from Sandvik, Sandvik also benefitted significantly from the digital model of the test mine created in the project and the development of the vehicle navigation simulator.

Overcoming challenges

Valmet acted as the Coordinator of the CHARM project. This is in fact the first time for a Finnish company to coordinate an EU consortium project. The Coordinator from Valmet was Senior Manager, R&D, Rolls and Workshop Services Heikki Kettunen, who worked in continuous collaboration with Spinverse’s Senior Project Manager Mikael Sundholm. Spinverse provided the daily administration services for the project.

Heikki Kettunen

The preparation time for large EU projects can be several years before the project ends. This is why it is important to be prepared for any changes in circumstances. According to Heikki Kettunen, the consortium partners adapted surprisingly well to the project’s challenges, such as the covid-19 pandemic when all communication, planning, and reporting were managed remotely. The key to the project’s success was a clear and pragmatic plan that helped reach the finish line.

Heikki Kettunen concludes: “For Valmet and for me personally, being in a coordinator role has been an extremely interesting experience with a steep learning curve. We have been able to see all the stages and ways of operation of an EU consortium project through and through. It has been truly motivating to work with so many new partners.”

The success of the CHARM project shows that both Finnish SMEs as well as large organisations can succeed in EU-funded international consortiums and benefit from extensive cooperation with different actors.

Loosely based on an article published by Business Finland in Finnish (15.4.2024).