In 2011, Finland’s national innovation support agency Tekes formed the EVE – Electric Vehicle Systems program, an electric vehicle development initiative aimed at piloting, testing, and demonstrating the vehicles and related infrastructure with the goal of improving technology and increasing public awareness. Over the course the program’s five-year duration, the contributing consortia made a considerable impact on the development of the electric vehicle industry. The recently published program report finds that the EVE program resulted in the foundation of some ten start-up firms and contributed to the growth of existing companies on international markets.

The Eco Urban Living initiative was one of the five independent consortia that made up the program, orchestrated by Synocus Group, bringing together automotive manufacturer Valmet Automotive, VTT the Technical Research Center of Finland, the City of Espoo, and educational institutions Aalto University, Hanken School of Economics, and Lappeenranta University of Technology. The EUL initiative focused on the development of passenger vehicles and services in an urban context, exploring elements ranging from battery technology and charging infrastructure to consumer behavior.

As the leading corporate member of the EUL consortium, Valmet Automotive, a leading service provider for the global automotive industry with a wide range of services that cover engineering, manufacturing, roof systems, and consulting—used the opportunity provided by the EUL initiative to develop its expertise in electric vehicle engineering. During the initiative, Valmet Automotive tested a new Framecar platform which would speed up product development through a combination of laboratory testing and practical experience. This platform has since come to be an essential aspect of the company’s product development process, used in battery system development, the integration of control systems, and the development of mechanical solutions. Enabling Valmet Automotive to verify the viability of new technologies at an early stage, the platform has allowed the company to apply for a number of patents in electric drive train and battery technology.

Alongside the development of market-leading approaches and technologies for the private sector, the EUL initiative also contributed to noteworthy academic research. The EV-Acte research project (Acting Effectively in Emerging Ecosystems), carried out by Robin Gustafsson and Timo Vuori of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at Aalto University, strived to advance understanding of the birth of new business ecosystems and the role which firms play in spurring them. The researchers continued their work following their participation in the EUL initiative, ultimately forming significant insights into how firms use soft-strategic methods to influence the development of corporate partnerships and ecosystems.

The EUL initiative also served as a platform for the early development of the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities, a non-profit alliance of cities, academic institutions, and corporations united in the pursuit of a low-carbon future. The WALCC continued to evolve in the years following its inception in the EUL initiative, 2016 will see the Alliance host its 10th and 11th low-carbon development world forums in Chongqing, China and Turku, Finland this May and October, respectively.

Synocus continued to build on the experience gained in the EUL initiative through the Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation project which explored the role of social innovations in promoting a low-carbon urban environment together with Aalto University and the University of Tampere. Synocus has also continued to advance urban mobility solutions through its participation in Finnish efforts to form Mobility-as-a-Service solutions, actively seeking opportunities in a number of nationally funded research and development projects together with a range of industry leading partners.

For more on Valmet Automotive’s electric vehicle expertise see their website.

To read up on Synocus’s further efforts in urban sustainability and low-carbon vehicles, see the WALCC’s website.

Download the project report at Tekes’s website.