A strange pandemic year is now behind us, and 2021 will hopefully see us return to normal.

Faith in humanity’s ability to solve problems is being tested as the vaccination programme begins in early 2021. However, the existing knowledge and know-how of the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the use of the available data, have significantly shortened the development cycle of vaccines, so that while in the past these development processes took years, nowadays we are talking about mere months. This fortifies our faith when it comes to other challenges too. I sincerely hope that research and innovation will be utilised in the coming years to combat climate change, to name one example, with the same vigour as we have seen happen in the fight against the coronavirus.

We tend to succeed when we have our backs against the wall and necessity guides our actions. After the presidential elections, the United States rejoined the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This move brought the nation with the biggest carbon footprint in terms of population size back to the negotiation table with other countries. The decision also sends out a strong signal to the financial market on where resources must be focused in the coming years. The reallocation of vast amounts to the development of green solutions in the energy, mobility and construction sectors will create work for future generations. Green is the new FAANG.

Helsinki is amongst those who have taken the opportunities afforded by this change seriously. However, its plan of becoming carbon-neutral by 2035 is an ambitious one, and the financial burden caused by the pandemic further increases the challenge.

Forum Virium Helsinki to step into the era of data utilisation

In 2021, we at Forum Virium will be utilising data more than ever before. At the heart of this work will be a conscious increase in data expertise in selected areas. The expertise will be used when developing urban innovations with the City of Helsinki’s divisions and subsidiaries, thereby promoting the city’s data vision, according to which the City of Helsinki’s data will be the most useable and most widely used in the world by 2025.

Our vision is to use data to create the world’s most functional urban ecosystem, and our long-term goal is to turn Helsinki into one of Europe’s leading data capital cities. In the future, data will be an increasingly important part of achieving new innovations and identifying business opportunities. Furthermore, the data skills of Forum Virium Helsinki’s employees will be improved through real-life usage examples.

Over the years, Forum Virium has been promoting Helsinki in development projects that revolve around data. For a long time now, we have been involved in opening and utilising data, as well as developing a digital twin. Investing in data changes innovation processes and improves the service quality during trials. Our mission is to promote the distribution and utilisation of the urban community’s data sources, and our aim is for the entire population of Helsinki to benefit from this.

Helsinki amongst the top smart cities and featured in The New York Times

The highlights of our work in 2020 included the test runs of automated buses in Pasila with Sensible 4 and testing a courier robot at shopping centre Red together with Kone and SRV. We also helped Deep Sensing Algorithms to develop and study a coronavirus breathalyser test at Laakso health station, and received positive feedback from the city’s residents on an electric ferry, piloted in Vartiosaari, that can be ordered with a mobile phone. Furthermore, a multisensory room experiment at Kustaankartano’s senior centre, carried out together with OiOi Collective and Senopi, showed a reduction in depression and need for psychiatric medication amongst the elderly.

In 2020, Forum Virium received large amounts of media visibility. For example, The New York Times wrote a long, glowing article about Forum Virium and Helsinki’s smart sustainable development solutions. In addition to that, our communications reached 50 million people around the globe last year.

Our systematic efforts to promote Helsinki’s smart city development resulted in excellent results in the comparison of smart cities in 2020: the IMD Smart City Index named Helsinki the second smartest city in the world. Furthermore, Finland was the second most innovative country in Europe, according to the European Commission’s Innovation Scorecard. Never before have we scored this high. We would therefore like to thank the staff at Forum Virium Helsinki for your amazing work and achievements!

The year 2021 has begun well for Forum Virium. It has a solid, EU-funded project portfolio, and more resources have been allocated to utilising innovations in Helsinki’s divisions. Forum Virium’s project portfolio for 2021 is worth approximately 7 million euros. We also employ 60 people, and our employee work satisfaction levels at are good, indicated by the average score of 4.24/5 in the latest work satisfaction survey. Furthermore, our net promoter score is 67, the best it has ever been.

Further information

Mika Malin

Managing Director

Mobile: +358 40 668 5599