Smart technology solutions for global problems of navigation are being developed in the Turku region. The key to success lies in strong co-operation.
How can seafaring, waterways and port operations be made environmentally sounder, safer and more efficient using smart technology solutions and shared data? These questions are studied in a number of companies and research projects in the Turku region.
”An interesting and complex ecosystem of smart shipping has emerged in the Turku Business Region area”, Vesa Erkkilä, Network Manager of Turku Science Park Ltd sums up.
One of the underlying factors is the British company Rolls-Royce which invested a great deal in autonomous navigation while operating in Turku. The SVAN project was a major milestone: in 2018, Finferries car ferry sailed a completely autonomous sea voyage for the first time in the world using technology developed by Rolls-Royce.
That same year the company sold its Commercial Marine unit to the Norwegian company Kongsberg which now operates its Finnish business under the name Kongsberg Maritime Finland. The reorganization also sowed the seeds of many new Turku-based firms focusing on smart shipping.
Know-how base for high-tech companies
A strong know-how base is a key reason why former Rolls-Royce employees and current high-tech entrepreneurs Karno Tenovuo and Juha Rokka want to work in Turku.
Mr Tenovuo manages Awake.AI which focuses on smart port logistics. Groke Technologies, headed up by Mr Rokka, specializes in smart navigation systems. They think that both Rolls-Royce and Nokia have played a big role in why there is a lot of high-tech expertise in Southwest Finland.
”We have people with a long experience in communications technologies and ship autonomy. Now we are utilizing this expertise in a new area that is linked to ports and logistics”, Mr Tenovuo sums up.
”It’s great to see that many good things have emerged from Rolls-Royce, and that the know-how is successfully maintained and increased. We also have many employees who are new to the maritime industry”, Mr Rokka says.
Although Groke Technologies and Awake.AI operate on global markets, the location of the companies matters. Mr Tenovuo says that open data is one of Finland’s competitive advantages.