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New Initiatives for Finnish Companies in China with Zhongguancun Software Park (ZPark)
Focus Area: Education Solutions and Services
Some observations on online education and learning solutions market in China
Online education and learning solutions area is under an active development both for serving public sector and private sector educational institutions as well as the huge online (and mobile) consumer market in China. There are several major developments and education reforms ongoing or being planned in China that may provide joint development and business opportunities. Examples of these include the need to deliver education to the countryside, the growing demand of vocational education including in public and private sectors, and the education reforms ranging from Kindergartens to universities that will extensively leverage digital delivery (e.g. the education cloud services, the e-textbook and e-Schoolbag initiative and others).
The Chinese education tradition has emphasised performance in exams at various levels and the major goal for students is the Gaokao national university entrance exams. In June 2014 close to 10 million students participated. There is a call for renewal of the education system to emphasise more open-ended and innovation-driven approaches and the learning of “soft skills” in addition to the “hard facts” as the prevailing education approaches are not optimal for meeting the future needs.
About the challenges and opportunities in the public and private sector and consumer market
Despite the rapid growth, the consumer market in digital content and services appears to be challenging for international players. For example, the entertainment content, such as movies, music, TV shows and games the models differ from those in the West. For example, in mobile apps and games, the revenues are seldom generated from the downloads but rather in-app (in-game) purchases of value adding services, such as speeding up in the game, getting to next levels, etc. Due to the sheer size of the market experiencing growing demand of learning services in areas such as English language or mathematics, there is a lot of competition, including also free offerings. However, the parents often pay for the solutions if they can be demonstrated to bring progress in learning (e.g. in passing the curriculum tests).
Taking the market environment into account in planning, the offerings and business models will be needed. With quality content and right kinds of partnerships, the consumer market is a viable area. There is a good track record of Finnish game companies to be followed by educational offerings.
In parallel, the public education and private schools markets will be addressable when the appropriate channels are established and solutions certified. Indeed, in the public sector where the solutions are part of the curriculum, the role of education authorities is essential and without being approved to the curriculum it will be difficult to bring solutions to the market. As some parts of the curriculum may be defined at the local level, it will be important to establish cooperation with authorities and education experts who can mandate and carry out special pilots at the City and District levels. In the Sino-Finnish Learning Garden, contacts have been established with Municipal Education Commissions in Beijing and in Shanghai. For a Finnish provider, one school district even in a second tier city may be a major case.
EduTech Ecosystem – enabling business pilots in China
While there are many interesting learning area comes in Finland they often lack the resources to go alone into new markets, like China. With EduTech Business Ecosystem, representing the learning solutions of the Sino- Finnish Learning Garden, we gather together companies to form business pilots and “clusters” to better to meet the demand. In the Ecosystem the effort and risk can be shared and the creation of a more comprehensive and therefore more attractive offerings becomes possible.
More importantly, the aim is not just to enable of Finnish solutions export and localisation in China, but together with Chinese partners to develop solutions for China and Finland – and to the global learning market. “We try to get contacts for the benefit of business solutions, experimentation, implementation and business development in China. And when we put the reputation of Finland in the game, we have together with companies to ensure that we keep our promises. This is for all of us it is a positive challenge.”
Cooperation with Tekes Learning Solution programme
EduTech Ecosystem and ICT Alliance have initiated cooperation with Tekes Learning Solution programme to leverage the synergies. On 3 June Tekes Business Breakfast was organised at the Finlandia Hall by the Learning Solutions Programme in cooperation with DIGILE. The meeting gathered a number of companies and organisations interested in the EduTech Ecosystem and in exploring the Chinese education market. The session resulted to the group of interested companies join EduTech in areas such as primary school education as well as professional education.
Summary of the activities in Sino-Finnish EduTech cooperation in the April-June 2014 period
During the April-June 2014 period several events involving the SFLG and EduTech Ecosystem and related research have been organised. In addition to closely working with the MoEC in the development of the SFLG, DIGILE and the ICT Alliance have intensified cooperation with active entities in this area, in particular with the Learning Solutions Programme of Tekes, with the Chinese Education Research and Exchange Centre (CEREC) based at University of Tampere, and with FLF, to ensure synchronised actions towards China.
When considering the role EduTech Ecosystem and Research Forum, we see the technology based solutions helping to boost the collaboration and learning of new practices and solutions both ways, and bring the physical space and the ritual online space together. To support the cooperation, the concepts of “Joint Learning Labs” and “Finland Classrooms” have been discussed with the involved universities and companies in Finland and in China.
Meeting with CEREC representatives, Mr. Yuzhou Cai, and a delegation from the University of Tampere, was organised at BNU to jointly plan the cooperation with CEREC in the SFLG EduTech area and in the China-Finland ICT Alliance. CEREC and the corresponding center at BNU, the Finnish Education Research Centre (FERC), have already established cooperation and can support in several areas including learning administration, quality assurance, teacher training, and guidelines development.
At BNU, Ms. Jun Wang, Deputy Director, Office of International Exchange & Cooperation, hosted a meeting with Mika Tirronen, Matti Hämäläinen and Jani Kaarlejärvi from the Finnish side and Prof. Shengquan Yu, Director, the Joint Laboratory for Mobile Learning, Ministry of Education – China Mobile Communication Corporation, and Ms. Xi Xie, Beijing Normal University Publishing Group (BNUPG) to discuss the research and business pilots cooperation planned to be launched during 2014.
BNU is in a position to become a key hub for EduTech research and as well as facilitate EduTech Ecosystem business pilots in selected test schools to help understanding the requirements of the local schools as well as those set by the national and local curriculum. When relevant content and digital solutions have been identified, BNUPG will consider involvement in their focal areas respectively. BNUPG has been recognised as a higher education publisher and they also indicated interest in Kindergarten area solutions and content. It was agreed that follow-up meetings all be organised in June and joint workshops to be planned for the October-November time frame when high-level land expert delegations will visit China (possibly to be organised to coincide with the PURE Finland events).
In addition to introducing the solutions form Finland a key area in the EduTech cooperation will be joint development and testing of new learning solutions and learning environments. This can involve mobile learning, ubiquitous access, wearable technologies, augmented reality and related technologies that help bridge the physical and virtual world. This may take place in the Joint Lab that BNU has set up with China Mobile (CMCC). The next step is to start planning of concrete the cooperation in development, testing and piloting of education technology solutions and services as well as joint research, including e.g. learning analytics, sensing technologies, and others.
For EduTech the next step will be identifying the potential pilots for BNU and BNUPG to discus with the selected Finnish companies. BNU has already a good experience in working with Finnish approach in the GraphoGame case, developed by the University of Jyväskylä (Prof. Heikki Lyytinen and his team). The potential solutions to be piloted include educational games for maths, languages, and other skills, including music. Also, new learning service platforms and technologies (e.g. ultra low energy e-paper, NFC and other physical world /digital world interaction) are potential candidates.
On 15 June a meeting was held at the East China Normal University, hosted by Prof. Zhu Zhiting, Dean of the School of Open Learning and Education, Director of Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Digital Equipment and China e-Learning Technology Standardisation Committee and member of several key committees. In the meeting Prof- Zhu expressed interest in cooperating the Sino-Finnish Learning Garden, the EduTech Ecosystem and the EduTech Research Forum. He has already been involved in cooperation discussions on Next Generation of eTextBook project of DIGILE’s Digital Services Programme (University of Jyväskylä). It was agreed that cooperation regarding the development of e-Textbooks and e-Schoolbag would be examined.
On 24 April 2014 the Board of Directors of DIGILE approved EduTech as a new Business Ecosystem Programme and the first company groups for the business pilots have been formed. In the meeting education solutions were also highlighted as a focus area of ICT Alliance for year 2014. So far the EduTech Ecosystem has attracted around 20 companies at the Finnish side and there is growing interest in China and in joining EduTech, so we expect the number to reach 30 by end of 2014. The business pilots help to form relevant “clusters” around particular customer cases e.g. kindergartens, primary schools, high schools, universities, and vocational and professional education, where specific areas include transportation, senior care, and environmental issues.
The first wave business pilot involves two pilot projects. DibiSchool is a pilot leader in the first EduTech Ecosystem launched in April 2014 and coordinated by DIGILE. DibiSchool partners with eOasis and Solution Space to serve the first pilot customer of TBD in China. As described by the company: “DibiSchool develops educational games for children for learning English with the lovable characters of the Dibidogs. It is an animation series with over 50 million viewers all around the world. In China, there are 14 channels showing the animation. Together with the pilot partners’ eOasis and Solutions Space, DibiSchool creates new services for Chinese kindergartens.” The second pilot is in professional education in the transport area, more specifically for training airport personnel. This is a prime example of the training needs in a rapidly growing industry in China, where Finland has a good reputation. “Airport College International is dedicated to achieving optimum results for their clients operating in airline, airport handling and freight forwarding business. It provides a complete on-line training service for aviation and logistics industries. It takes part in pilot with partner of Context Learning and Neoxen.” The full range of web-based training programmes in safety, security and service topics comply with the regulations of international and national legislations and those established by governing bodies, such as the ICAO and IATA.
To complement the EduTech ecosystem that involves companies as partners, ICT Alliance has been preparing to launch an international EduTech Research Forum for involving universities and other relevant research actors, who are in charge of curriculum development, and guidelines. There are also discussions for setting up (joint) Cloud service in China ongoing to support joint R&D&I and pilots. In Finland the FORGE Service Lab is also now open as a relevant option for helping the development of “Education-as-a-Service” offerings.
On 25 April the Finn-Sino Education Forum was organised by the University of Tampere/ CEREC and the City of Tampere to identify opportunities and challenges in education cooperation between Finland and China, to share experience and viewpoints on the existing cooperation with China in the field of education, and to explore the potential of a new Finn-Sino education cooperation network for bridging the Finnish and Chinese actors. The EduTech solutions area was represented by Mr. Matti Hämäläinen, who gave a presentation on Co-creating Future Digital Learning Solutions.
On 21 May the Sino-Finnish Learning Garden planning meeting was organised at the Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki, involving EduTech Ecosystem and China-Finland ICT Alliance represented by DIGILE. As the main outcome a number of Pilot projects will be suggested to SFLG.
On 22 May a meeting with the companies representing the first set of EduTech pilots was held at DIGILE: “Professional education” (transport / airport personnel training) is led by Airport College, with partners involving Context Learning Finland and Neoxen Systems. The “Kindergarten & pre-school” pilot is led by DibiSchool involving eOasis and Solutions Space as partners.
On the same day a reception was held in Helsinki for Mr. Eddie Ng, Hong Kong Secretary for Education, during his visit to Finland. In his speech the prime position that education has in the development of Hong Kong’s future was highlighted. Hong Kong’s progressive approach and prominent role as “education society” was highlighted and some of the opportunities for Finnish actors were identified, including the Finnish learning approach and the supporting solutions. The EduTech Ecosystem aims at establishing active cooperation also for HK markets, under the SFLG framework.
China-Finland ICT Alliance and Beijing Normal University organised Sino-Finnish Learning Garden and EduTech Workshop in Beijing on 9 June. The objective is to push forward pilots in education technology and learning services as well as to focus on technologies and services research, such as mobile and ubiquitous technologies in education, learning analytics, e-book standards and gaming. Prof. Yu Shengquan, Dean of School of Education Technology and Director, Joint Laboratory for Mobile Learning: Ministry of Education of China described experiences from a model for ubiquitous learning resources. The laboratory has been built under the national guideline of “Education Information Development Plan (2011-2020)” and “MOE and CMCC Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement”, supported by “Ministry of Education – China Mobile Research Fund”. Cooperation presentations were also given, for example, by Prof. Shu Hua, National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning; Prof. Teng Jun, Vice Dean, Institute of International and Comparative Education; Ms. Xie Xi, International Department, Beijing Normal University Publishing Group; Dr. Wang Jun, Deputy Director, Office of International Exchange & Cooperation; Mr. Mika Tirronen, Counsellor (Science & Education), Embassy of Finland in Beijing; Mr. John Zhuang, Director of Learning, China, Rovio; Prof. Yuzhuo Cai, Higher Education Group (HEG), School of Management, Chinese Education Research & Exchange Centre (CEREC), University of Tampere; Mr. Matti Hämäläinen, China-Finland ICT Alliance, DIGILE. A co-creative research forum on education will be launched in autumn 2014 involving active China-Finland research units for education technology and learning services cooperation with first joint pilot projects.
Focus Area: Senior Services and Smart Home
Ageing of the population is a common trend in the developed countries and will start to face some of the developing societies as well. In China the challenges related to ageing society services – and the associated opportunities – are of exceptional scale. The statistics of Sixth National Population Census by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs indicated that the number of people older than 60 years was close to 200 million (over 13 percent of the total population) in 2012 and the senior population will continue to grow very fast in coming 30 years. The one child policy (4-2-1 family structure) and urbanisation will further amplify this challenge. Consequently, there is a vast gap between the elderly care resources and the needs in this growing market. The government naturally cannot alone take the responsibility of providing the needed services for the rapidly aging population in China. This creates new business opportunities in public services, private services and in citizen and consumer driven solutions. For example, the rapid growth of the (mobile) Internet in China as well as the rapidly developing communications and cloud infrastructure and the investments in IoT and related technologies will help to provide the needed infrastructure and building blocks for new services.
A prerequisite of successful and wide adoption of technology solutions in elderly services is properly organized education and training. It has been estimated that up to 30 million people need to be (re)trained in the coming years in China to provide the services and to boost the creation of this new “senior industry”. When linked with the introduction of appropriate processes and supporting technologies, the benefits from new solutions can be realised. Even training as such is a substantial joint opportunity for Finnish and Chinese partners and relates well to the also on-going cooperation in learning solutions. It is important to put these activities in the “big picture” for understanding the market and priorities. The role of real estate industry that may for example enjoy special preferential treatments and support when developing senior communities with relevant services, the on-going and planned reforms in health insurance and medical services, and the initiatives aiming at better integrating IT industry and health sector in China are examples of such major areas and initiatives to position with.
The new Research program on promoting health and wellness, planned jointly by SalWe and DIGILE, could play an important role in the senior services area and in China cooperation. It is tentatively titled as “Speedy Recovery” as it aims at drastically shortening the stay in hospitals and speeding up rehabilitation at home.
Summary of activities in Senior Services and Smart Home cooperation in the April-June 2014 period
During the April – June 2014 period several events and meetings related to Senior Services and Smart Home areas, involving technology development, piloting and education & training services, have been organised or joined by the ICT Alliance and DIGILE.
On 16 April it was announced that Mr. Matti Hämäläinen, DIGILE / ICT Alliance and Aalto, has been appointed as a National High-end Foreign Expert (under the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs Program) at Tongji University to act as the Director of a new Joint Lab on Intelligent Services Embedded in Everyday Life for the Wellbeing of Elderly (ISEEL). The aim, in accordance to the co-creative approach of the ICT Alliance, is to create an open platform based at Tongji University, at the Sino-Finnish Centre (SFC), for research, education and innovation. It would bring together academic experts, students, companies, public entities, NGOs and other relevant actors from China, Finland and internationally for the co-creation and study of solutions for “smart home” and “smart life” with a special focus on the wellbeing of elderly.
At Tongji the meetings with experts were organised, including Prof. Lou Yongqi, Dean, College of Design & Innovation, Prof. Liu Fuqiang, School of Electronics and Information Engineering, Prof. Dong Hua, Dean of College of Arts and Media, and Dr. Su Yunsheng, Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute and co-founder of “Urban China” Magazine, and the Aalto SFC key people, Prof. Matti Nojonen and Mr. Matti M. Hämäläinen. The topics included the preparation of the ISEEL Lab activities as well as on-going ICT Alliance projects, the related Aalto – Tongji cooperation, and education related initiatives in the Sino-Finnish Learning Garden and the EduTech Ecosystem. One potential pilot in the professional education area is specifically senior care services training.
On 5 May the Senior Service Science and Innovation Workshop was organised at Beijing Academy of Science and Technology, BJAST, Beijing. Matti Hämäläinen gave an invited talk and joined the planning of future activities with BJAST and the 2012 co-initiated International Research Center for Senior Service Innovation (IRCSSI) involving BJAST, Fraunhofer IAO and Aalto with DIGILE and ALV. BJAST is one of the key partners in China for research in Senior Services Innovation.
On 6 May the International Seminar on Intelligent Community and Home-Based Senior Care Service Innovation was organised at Yulong International Hotel, Beijing. On behalf of the Finnish parties Mr. Matti Hämäläinen gave a presentation on Senior Care Service Innovation in Finland. In the afternoon a visit to the Yangfangdian Elderly Care Community and to Cuncaochunhui Care Home was organised for the business delegation of Minister Risikko and the Sino-Finnish cooperation and experiences were presented by Dr. Jianbing Liu, Director of BRCUSE/BJAST, and other experts. Both events received visibility in the Chinese print media and TV.
On 7 May a workshop for the business delegation of Minister Paula Risikko was co-organised with ICT Alliance, Finpro and Zhongguancun Life Science Park (LSP), Beijing, to discuss cooperation opportunities in health and wellbeing with particular focus on the wellbeing of elderly and the development of services for senior communities. A very large community of over 1000 people is planned at Zhongguancun LSP, including also a Peking University hospital. The event was opened by Mr. Tom Zhu, Finland Representative Office, Zhongguancun Software Park, followed by several companies based at LSP, including Beijing CSCEC-Zhongguancun Bio-pharmaceutical Investment Co.ltd, PKU HealthCare Industry Group, CapitalBio Corporation, Mindray Corporation, Taikang HealthCare Research Center, and Lawke Health Laboratory Center for Clinical Laboratory Development.
On 15 May the kick-off meeting of the first “Home-as-a-Service Platfrom” project was held at Urban Mill, Aalto, in Espoo. It developes a demonstration environment for digitally enabled and Internet based services for the elderly to be demonstrated at the Housing Fair in Jyväskylä 2014. It is already involving a large number of company partners, cities, and researchers, coordinated by Active Life Village, such as Addoz Oy, Anvia Oyj, Beddit Oy, Bonwal Oy, Digikonkarit/Ilolla Oy, Electrix Oy, F-Secure Oyj, Helmivisio Oy, Mohinet Oy, Oppimaa Oy, Pienipiiri Oy, PlayGround Finland Oy, UrbanMill, City of Espoo, Municipality of Pyhtää, Ministry of Transport and Communications, and University of Eastern-Finland, with DIGILE as the facilitator for the overall Home-as-a-Platform” concept. Similar solutions are planed to replicated and adapted to China by the Sino-Finnish cooperation activities.
China-Finland ICT Alliance, BlueAngel HongYe Investment (Group), Tekes, Finpro and China’s National Industry Alliance of Smart City Technology Innovation organised a workshop on smart agriculture, smart city and smart living services in Beijing on 10 June. The objective is to identify products, services and technical applications that can be jointly developed and utilised in modernising agricultural services. It was discussed which kind of and what specific products, services and business practices ICT Alliance partners could provide to implement those in Smart-works. It was discussed the opportunity to have a joint demonstration farm as a part of the national-level initiative to build smart agriculture zone to develop and test new agricultural solutions and services. Technological and managerial practises from Finland would bring added value and modernise local business and entrepreneurship. China-Finland ICT Alliance and National Industry Alliance of Smart City Technology Innovation, which is supervised by MOHURD and being cooperated with MOST and NDRC etc., will continue cooperation talks in the field of smart city and smart urban and regional development (Tianjin and Guongdong as preliminary identified regions).
A meeting with China Aging Development Foundation, CADF, Chairman Mr. Li Baoku, was organised for planning of cooperation activities in ageing society services, including technology based services and cultural services exchanges and involving also the third sector entities that play active role both in China and in Finland.
On 12 and 14 June a meeting with ICT Alliance and Shenzen Medical Education Center (SMEC) had a meeting on establishing a long term collaboration between China and Finland in senior care and integrated care training and services, and in particular the administration of senior care services that is about to emerge as an industry in China. Pilots in professional and vocational education and related research and pilots can take place under China- Finland ICT Alliance focus areas and DIGILE Business Ecosystems. This also included a visit to a health care democenter in the Guangming district with the representatives of Shenzhen municipality, Shenzhen medical institution, Shenzhen Civil Affairs Bureau, Shenzhen Municipal Education Commission, and Shenzhen Health, Population and Family Planning Department.
Focus Area: Smart City – Contributing to Beautiful Beijing
For establishing active links with relevant forums and facilitators in this area the ICT Alliance coordination team (DIGILE) has recently been in discussions with such Chinese industry alliances that play key role in the area. In particular, the National Industry Alliance of Smart City Technology Innovation (NIASCTI) that is supervised by the MOHURD and being supported and cooperated with MOST and NDRC, will provide a relevant network to work with ICT Alliance for moving forward in the China-Finland cooperation.
The new services enabled by the technology and rapid penetration of mobile Internet include a variety of demand responsive services in traffic and other areas. Thus, in the Internet Economy era, innovation is very much about business models and service experiences instead of being just technology-driven. Many such services are already provided both by public actors (e.g. Kutsuplus.fi by Ajelo offered by HSL, Helsinki Region Transport) and by rapidly growing private companies. The Uber taxi service that originated from the US and since grown to a globally operating Internet company and similar services supported by the Internet giants, Alibaba and Tencent, in China, are among the prominent examples already in wide use. When combined with better understanding of users everyday activities, contexts, behaviours and needs we can expect the future demand driven and “resource optimal” services to emerge.
Smart cities – and innovative cities – are also about enabling the communities and citizens to become activelyinvolved in services creation and in contributing to the development of the urban environment and the quality of life. Thus solutions that support participative development as well as open innovation are relevant in the future. In particular, the Open Data movement that makes public data sources, such as the data from various city services, available via open APIs for third parties to innovate new services are under active development and may form one element for joint projects. Social media analysis and creating of new solutions that leverage social media and chat services for communication with the “smart devices” are among recent trends and already included in some of the ICT Alliance projects.
Smart cities – being smart in developing neighbourhoods, building and homes
The work on smart cities in ICT Alliance can be described in a multi-layered view: smart cities consist of smart neighbourhoods with smart building and smart homes in a setting where users and communities are key actors. The related service architectures and platforms are being studied involving approaches that may provide guiding principles for the work. A good example, being jointly developed in international cooperation, is the “city-on- demand” concept that has been developed in the cooperative of led by Prof. Jarmo Suominen, Aalto University and MIT, and Dr. Su Yunsheng, Tongji University.
A sustainable city is developed by optimising the use of existing and emerging resources, supporting resource sharing, and by involving the citizens and communities in active role. For example, energy efficiency results from efficient on-demand usage of resources in mobility and housing. Work environments will be increasingly rented as a services that adapt according to the intended use by employing configurable spaces and related services, transportation will be based on combination of on-demand solutions and user optimised travel chains where environmentally sound solutions can be prioritized by users, and services for living at home support our changing habits and over time changing needs of living by providing situationally relevant configurations of spaces and services – in the best case automatically created based on observed rhythms and needs.
Such solutions range from home level, to buildings, neighbourhoods, city districts and eventually to city levels. For future cities it will be important to make the top-down City-driven initiatives and the bottom-up user and community-driven initiatives “meet-in-the-middle” and to leverage the synergies. In particular, the development of solutions for the public sector, private sector and consumer markets should be supported the variety of services in a city ranging from transport, to environmental solutions, and to health, wellbeing and senior care.
In smart city the “Service Architecture (in the city context) refers to the linking of the physical and digital environments, circumstances and people’s action. It aims at supporting people’s and organisations goals with regards to actions, habits and daily routines based on analysing the environments, circumstances, and service capability, and by linking the technical, economical and operational value to the emotional value and the customer experience. A socially dense city can also be a truly human city based on local neighbourhoods connected together in most efficient ways and energising and inspiring its users. Neighbourhoods that support flexible and multifaceted services are desirable areas – and create editable cities – where the services support their users’ everyday life and bring added value to it.
ICT enablers, in addition to the above mentioned sensing, connectivity, cloud and other technologies, include e-identity, authentication and easy to use payment solutions that make the efficient service use as easy and attractive as possible. Specific technologies currently studied in China-Finland cooperation as enablers for enabling easy access flow with automatically configurable spaces and payments is NFC. However, more advanced biometric solutions that would enable “Me as my signature” approach will also be studied. With personal data being collected from almost every aspect of people’s online activities and their physical life it will become a major asset and basis for future services.
Consequently the research and development of solutions for Personal Data Ecosystem is actively ongoing. Importantly, trust is required among the personal data ecosystem parties to allow data to flow and to be leveraged and enriched. For example, in the above outlined sharing economy services establishing trust among the parties is a necessity for their growth (examples such as Airbnb apartment rental service and Uber and other transportation network companies are well known examples). Finland as a globally recognised gateway for trusted digital services, and China as a prime mover in new digital and Internet services innovation and adoption, are well positioned to leverage their complementary capabilities and expertise in this area for the global markets.
Smart City – basis for international multi-sectoral R&D&I collaboration
The solutions for smart cities are of systemic nature and need to involve a variety of stakeholders, disciplines and technologies as well as several administrative and industry sectors. Thus, they form a natural context for cross-sectoral cooperation. For facilitation of international R&D&I and piloting activities in this area it is important to establish cooperative links among entities that represent the relevant government sectors both at national and at city level as well as close cooperation among the industry specific research entities. In Finland, the Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation, SHOKs, being prime actors in their respective industry sectors and there are several who are already involved, or becoming active in China cooperation such as CLEEN – Cluster for Energy and Environment, RYM – Built Environment Innovations, and SalWe – Health and Well-being.
Contributing to Beautiful Beijing
In ICT Alliance the current activities can be categorised by a few thematic areas including intelligent traffic and urban mobility services, environmental monitoring services, and smart home and smart building solutions. These all contribute to sustainability, in particular in resource use, and to the improved quality of living environments and services in the city and at home. And, all these areas are such that they contribute to Beautiful Beijing cooperation.
In traffic and urban mobility services ICT Alliance has launched the International Research Forum on Intelligent Sensing and Services in Urban Environment for Traffic and Mobility (ISSUE-TM) to bring the active research teams and other involved actors together in China – Finland cooperation and in wider international cooperation involving e.g. team from the US. This is the first thematic Research Forum launched under the ICT alliance and thus it will be described in more detail below. Learning from the experiences other such Research Forums are being planned in areas where active multiparty China-Finland cooperation is ongoing and there is call for such as facilitating forum that goes beyond individual projects and organisations. The ISSUE-TM involves pilots in Finland (e.g. City of Oulu, City of Tampere and Helsinki region), with University of Oulu, University of Tampere, and Aalto among key research partners. The work involves companies that are in current ICT Alliance projects and DIGILE’s Data-to-intelligence (D2I) programme and new are being invited. In China there are corresponding ICT Alliance projects e.g. in Shanghai and Hangzhou, and active teams in Fuzhou and in Beijing.
In environmental monitoring services the focus has been on air quality monitoring and analysis services where there has been already several years of activity towards China in the CLEEN MMEA China Testbed project. It has involved several companies such as Pegasor and Vaisala, research centers and sectoral research institutions such as VTT and FMI, and universities such as Aalto and Tampere University of Technology. This area has become particularly timely and urgent as the air quality situation has become very challenging in cities such as Beijing, and others. Among the other smart city topics related to traffic and to buildings, this is a priority in the Beautiful Beijing cooperation between China and Finland.
To facilitate joint research in digitally enabled new solutions in air quality monitoring ICT Alliance organised meetings in March 2014, leveraging also the synergies with CLEEN, for bringing together companies such as GeoStar and NavInfo in China and Pegasor, Vaisala, FMI, Active Life Village, in Finland. The concrete aim was to create cooperation in developing and testing new services to extend the already existing AirQuality Platform for Beijing provided by GeoStar and its partners. This resulted also to the submission of a joint proposal to the joint call of Tekes and MOST submitted by May 2014. In addition to fine particle monitoring and analysis, linking user generated observations as well as health advice and alerts are planned to be included. This will be important in particular for people at risk due to age or health conditions.
While the outdoor air quality will take time to improve even if strict measures would be immediately taken there are immediate opportunities to improve the quality of air – and the quality of life – indoors. This area is included in the work of some of the ICT Alliance projects, like the Finnish-Chinese Green ICT R&D&I Living Lab for Energy Efficient, Clean and Safe Environments, led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. It will also be one of the areas to be promoted in the smart home and smart appliances cooperation aiming at wellbeing for at home. For example, the ”Home-as-a-Service Platform” concept will be adopted and demonstrated in the new Joint Lab on Intelligent Services Embedded in Everyday Life (ISEEL) in Shanghai at Sino-Finnish Centre, Tongji University, to be set up in 2014. It will initially focus on the wellbeing of seniors and will provide a base for more generic smart home services and elements in creating more comprehensive smart neighbourhood and smart city solutions. This area is discussed in more detail in Focus Area: Elderly Services and Smart Home.
ISSUE-TM Research Forum – Initial experiences from the first ICT Alliance Research Forum
ICT Alliance and its coordinators, DIGILE and WiCO, are well positioned to act as facilitators of such Research Forums where activities involve research combined with pilots for large-scale real-life experimentation that provide experiences and data to understand better the underlying phenomena and the proposed solutions. Pilots also provide context for studying viable business models and opportunities to explore commercial cooperation, thus bringing universities and companies together in business oriented R&D&I. The ISSUE-TM Forum has concrete and practical aims, including:
- Devising jointly agreed common “core” principles, data items and formats for data collection and data sharing, and agreeing on sharing of experiences from different experimentation approaches for making best use of the complementary data available in Finland /Europe and in China respectively.
- Sharing access to data sets and/or analysis results of pilots in Finland and in China, such as City of Oulu and City of Tampere, and the data sets being collected by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and in Fuzhou and Beijing.
- Preparing for applying for a cooperative national projects in Finland and in China, bi-lateral Sino-Finnish projects, and EU projects creating first proposals in 2014 (e.g. Horizon 2020)
- Arranging co-located ISSUE-TM Forum events in Finland and in China and setting up online collaboration. The events will be organized both in the context ICT Alliance events and in the relevant conferences and exhibitions in ITS and Smart City area.
- Arranging visiting expert talks as well as involving PhD level exchange researchers in the Forum activities and in related Doctoral Summer Schools.
ISSUE-TM is planning a joint application to develop a sensor network for the some of the most central urban areas in Finland (Prof. Jukka Riekki, University of Oulu, will coordinate this application). Discussions with Chinese partners regarding parallel projects are conducted. Linking already ongoing platforms and is planned to be followed by new joint projects. These may be initially funded by separate calls and later provide basis for joint calls e.g. by NSFC and Academy of Finland (for university driven research) and MOST and provincial / municipal S&T Committees and Tekes (for industry driven research). ISSUE-TM also forms a good basis for developing joint proposals for international calls, such as EU H2020.
Open Data – an opportunity for linking research teams and cities
In Finland the six biggest cities (Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Turku and Oulu) have a common program for work on open data and related issues and to open up more municipal data. There are expected to be pilot applications on open data and traffic, in particular, is one of the key areas. City of Tampere is coordinating the projects for that part, involving actors from at least two of the participating cities. Since ISSUE-TM includes active and experienced teams from the major Finnish universities it is in a good position for a strong application. For example, focusing on Traffic Situation Displays (snapshots of the actual or partly predicted situation of the traffic) the aim is to create methods for data analysis to improve traffic and environment situation displays, working on open data and/or producing open data. The sources include data from traffic, such as public transportation and traffic lights, and from sensors, including static city sensors, sensors in cars, and wearable user sensors, including mobile phones. The user or vehicle specific raw data cannot be opened, but the analysis results, if properly produced, can be. Also non-open data such as taxi traffic data can similarly be used. Infrastructure data on road conditions, and environmental data containing e.g. information on weather, should also be included, as well as social data. Prof. Jyrki Nummenmaa, University of Tampere, will lead the preparatory work for joint proposal in this area aiming at submission by the participating Finnish partners by September 2014.
Data and computation platform
The universities themselves have their own facilities, which differ, however it is not easy to open up the universities’ own platforms for external use. One preferred option is to use FORGE Service Laboratory launched by DIGILE. Other options are contacting CSC directly and using commercial cloud services. Prof. Jyrki Nummenmaa will continue the discussion with DIGILE on the platform. Such a platform could be set-up by partners in China to be gradually linked with the Finnish platform for joint research and development.
The events during summer 2014 involving ICT Alliance / ISSUE-TM include:
- The 10th ITS European Congress, Jun 16-19, Helsinki, where meetings of the Finnish teams was held.
- August 6th – August 13th University of Tampere will host a Finnish – Chinese event on analysis of Social Media. The Programme will involve a specific session in ISSUE-TM including both Chinese and Finnish experts.
- 2014 International Conference on Management Science and Engineering (21th) (ICMSE2014),
- Organised by Harbin Institute of Technology and Aalto University, in cooperation with the eBEREA network and China-Finland ICT Alliance. Theme: Management of Innovation in Big Data Era, August 17-18, 2014 Helsinki, Finland. There will be a specific invitational workshop involving Chinese and Finnish partners.
Cooperation discussion on Cloud and EduTech with China Information Technology
China Information Technology (CNIT) is a leading provider of integrated cloud-based solutions in digital education, smart family and business, public information release, and other information technology solutions in China.
CNIT has successfully secured contracts of its core product CNIT InfoCloud with customers in multiple industries including financial, property, weather forecast, media, jewelry retail, education, entertainment, hospitality, train business, healthcare and ecommerce. It especially focuses on InfoCloud, EduCloud, security of cloud, cyber security, Internet of Things, WeMedia platform and Smart City sectors. In 2013, CNIT’s revenue was $76.1 million. It is listed in Nasdaq and it is also the mother company of e.g. GeoStar that will open up an office in Espoo in August 2014 to boost cooperation primarily in geoservices and Smart City. In January 2014, iASPEC Geo Information Technology Co., Ltd., one of CNIT’s entities, was elected as the Chairman of the Shenzhen City Big Data Industry and Innovation Alliance, members of which also include Tencent, Huawei, CCID Consulting, Shenzhen University, National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen and Audaque. The Alliance is sponsored by the Technology Innovation Committee of Shenzhen Government comprising numerous key enterprises of the Big Data industry in Shenzhen City. It promotes industry collaborations and Big Data technology developments and applications in an effort to promote Shenzhen City’s pioneering position in China’s Big Data industry.
ICT Alliance & Tencent cooperation meeting on Internet and mobile based services
Internet and mobile business grows fast in China. Tencent is one of the market leaders in China and was listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. With its well-known products, such as WeChat and QQ, Tencent has more than a billion users and it functions like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon and others. For example, WeChat has 355 million monthly active users. In 2013 Tencent had US$9.91 billion in revenue for the whole of 2013, up 38 percent on the 2012 figure. Forbes announced in 2012 the list of the world’s most innovative companies and Tencent was at number 11. With Tencent it is possible to initiate discussions for developing active cooperation that would include not only technology but also services regarding the access to and base for serving international markets – one of the starting points could be games and especially educational games. The benefits that Finland still has are among other things is the innovative technology environment and an actively growing game business start-up community.
China-Finland ICT Alliance & MOST meeting on next steps in R&D&I cooperation
Digile’s China Coordination Working Group
On 20 May the China Coordination Working Group meeting was organised at DIGILE. The theme of the meeting, international cooperation in digital technologies and Internet based services, was highlighted by invited presentations that informed about recent developments in these areas where China is becoming a globally leading actor and already is a key strategic partner for Finland. These topics are thus at the core of China-Finland ICT Alliance where the coordination work has actively continued to extend the scope of cooperation from initial telecom and networks focus to cover also relevant new services and innovation enabling technologies as well as the jointly identified key application areas in society and business. These include areas where China and Finland are well positioned for together creating breakthroughs by joint development and scaling of solutions (e.g. urbanisation, ageing society, health and wellbeing, environment, and education).
The presentations provided up-to-date information about activities that aim at building Finland’s position as an internationally prominent and attractive partner in the forthcoming Era of Internet Economy. In particular, the decisive steps for building Finland as an exceptionally well connected digital hub between the East and the West were described by Mr. Juhapekka Ristola, Director-General of the Communications Policy Department, Ministry of Transport and Communications. The timeliness and relevance of his presentation was indeed very high: right after his talk Mr. Ristola moved to the Ministry for the announcement of the decision that the Finnish Government has granted funding for a new undersea data communication cable to run from Finland to Germany. It was made public the same day with Minister Krista Kiuru stating “… the new connection will lure investments into Finland and will make the country an important concentration of international cloud business activity and a location of data centres.” Along these lines, the following presentation on Growth from Digital Services by Mr. Reijo Paajanen, CEO of DIGILE, described the recent and intensifying activities for digital services competence development in Finland. In particular, the portfolio of DIGILE’s Research Programmes, Business Ecosystem activities and FORGE Service Lab were described, and the role of the international coordination activities – the ICT Alliance in particular – was highlighted in building business-oriented R&D&I cooperation with key Chinese partners in R&D&I projects and business pilots. This competence creation and integration contributes to building the position as a relevant partner for China as well as for the US who are at the forefront in defining the Internet Economy.
The following presentation on how concrete industry cooperation is being developed was given by Mr. Tom Zhu, Head, Finland Representative Office, Zhongguancun Software Park. He described the already established business and technology cooperation of ZPark with Finland, with Golden Bridge and DIGILE, including DIGILE’s portfolio activities and the China-Finland ICT Alliance that it coordinates. ZPark is the most important and dynamic among the science parks in China and serves as the platform for Chinese and Finnish ICT and digital services companies to scout suitable and competent partners for both parties and to facilitate research, development and innovation (R&D&I) cooperation. Again, the timeliness of the talk was high as in less than two weeks later, on 5 June the MoU Signing Ceremony was held in Otaniemi between ZPark, DIGILE and GHP/Golden Bridge.
The two focus areas that were presented next, 1) education and 2) health, wellbeing and senior care, are both now actively developed with a broad based approach in China-Finland cooperation, and in the ICT Alliance context. The initiatives bring together the corresponding Ministries, the related SHOKs, the programmes of Tekes and Academy of Finland, the cities who are key actors in offering these services, and naturally the companies and universities developing the new solutions in these areas. Again it has proven to be that China cooperation is an excellent way and forum for bringing the variety of Finnish actors to work together under a shared vision – and in close cooperation with their Chinese partners. Ms. Saara Hassinen, CEO of SalWe, reported the experiences from the May visit of Ms. Paula Risikko, Minister of Social Affairs and Health, and her official and business delegation. The business delegation had several meetings with Chinese public entities, researchers and companies involved in or interested in coperation. Particular focus was in senior care and in community and home based solutions. Some of the workshops and meetings were co-organised by DIGILE / China-Finland ICT Alliance. Another active Focus area in year 2014 is education, and Mr. Jaakko Talvitie, Director, Business Ecosystem Creation, presented the EduTech Ecosystem. It is a recently approved Business Ecosystem Program of DIGILE and also an important contributor to the Learning Solutions part of the Sino-Finnish Learning Garden initiative launched by the Finnish MoE. The Ecosystem will cover the whole range of education starting from Kindergarten to University level and to vocational and professional education. The interest in EduTech has been high among companies in Finland as it aims at creating concrete pre-commercial business pilots thus enabling even smaller companies to gain experience from and access to the Chinese markets.
As digital services and Internet business are one of the key future growth areas and a focal area in the cooperation, the research and education in eBusiness and eServices will be highly relevant to be included in addition to the technology aspects. For example, systematic comparative studies of the Chinese and Western environments and business approaches help to gain better visibility to the markets both ways and pave the way to joint business and innovation activities. There is already a long term cooperation developed by academic entities in this area, and the eBEREA network (the eBusiness Education and Research Network for Euro-Asian Collaboration) in particular has proved to be an important partner and a forum that can provide links to the key research entities in e-commerce and in other IS areas in China. The experiences from the development the recent eBEREA/IRSES EU FP7 Marie Curie exchange program were presented by Ms. Marika Heikkilä, University of Jyväskylä and University of Turku.
Metropolitan Area Public Actor China Working Group
On 20 May the Metropolitan Area Public Actor China Working Group meeting was also organised at DIGILE. The theme of the meeting was also international cooperation in digital technologies and Internet based services but more highlighting the role of Metropolitan area Cities as key actors. In particular, as they have established relevant relations with sister Cities and Provinces. The discussion focused on services that are relevant in city context, such as education as well as intelligent solutions for traffic and mobility of people in urban environment. The opening presentation was again given by by Mr. Reijo Paajanen, CEO of DIGILE, as above. It was followed by a Keynote by Mr. Lars Backström, Former Ambassador to China, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, describing the recent experiences and developments in China, providing perspectives to the Chinese environment in business and to China as a partner. His talk represented a deep and versatile experience of the environment and was important for putting the various initiatives discussed later into the “big picture” for assessing their potential impact.
Mr. Mika Tirronen, Counsellor (Education and Science), Embassy of Finland, Beijing, presented the Sino-Finnish Learning Garden (SFLG) that is being developed as an “umbrella” or better, a joint “garden”, where the different education focused actors and initiatives from Finland and China can work together in the development of approaches and solutions for fostering the 21st century learning skills. The SFLG is an important and welcome initiative for collecting the Finnish and Chinese actors together to work in a synchronized but independent manner, making best use of synergies. Prof. Jyrki Nummenmaa, University of Tampere, described the recent developments in intelligent traffic and mobility area that is among the focus areas where the role of Cities as providers of transport services as well as providers of relevant information sources is essential. He described the Research Forum on Intelligent Sensing and Services in Urban Environment for Traffic and Mobility (ISSUE-TM) initiated by the ICT Alliance during spring 2014. It involves universities and companies working on pilots in Tampere, Oulu and the Metropolitan Helsinki region and will be a way to bring the separate activities together to work with corresponding teams in China, and internationally.
In the City specific topics it was the turn of City of Vantaa to update on China activities, where this year the Uusimaa-Shandong Business & Cultural Forum is among the main events, as presented by Ms. Ritva Alatalo. Cities of Espoo and Helsinki have also relevant of China activities later this year as described at the end of this newsletter in forthcoming events section.
These presentations in both the China Coordination Working Group and Metropolitan Area Public Actor China Working Group stimulated active discussion and concrete suggestions on how to move forward in the cooperation. It was noted that year 2014 will be a very active year in the China-Finland R&D&I cooperation and business development in the area of digital services and applications. Thus, the next meetings were suggested to be held already in September at the end of “China-Finland Co-Creating the Future” week that will be organised in Espoo and Helsinki on 1-5 September 2014.
Next Activities and Actions
- Kick-off meeting for the International Joint Lab on Intelligent Services Embedded in Everyday Life, ISEEL, based at the Sino-Finnish Centre (SFC) at Tongji University, focusing on “Smart Home” / “Smart Life” lab, a special focus will be for the Wellbeing of Elderly, 6-7 August, Shanghai
- Shanghai key media business actors (Shanghai Municipal Culture Management Division and BesTV) visit to DIGILE, 26 June, Espoo
- Finnish-Chinese Workshop on Analysis of Social Media (ICT Alliance Research Forum ISSUE-TM – intelligent sensing and services for traffic and urban mobility as a case), University of Tampere, 6-13 August, Tampere
- International Conference on Management Science and Engineering (21th) (ICMSE2014) in cooperation with Harbin Institute of Technology, Aalto, eBEREA network and ICT Alliance, 17-18 August, Helsinki
- GeoStar visits City of Espoo and DIGILE/China-Finland ICT Alliance and partners, Sino-Finnish GeoSpatial Industrial Cooperation Conference, 24-25 August, Espoo
- “China-Finland Co-Creating the Future” Week – Solutions for the Era of Internet Economy, 1-5 September, Helsinki & Espoo, consisting of:
- 7th International China-Finland ICT Alliance Workshop, 1 September, Espoo
- Forums on 5G & Future Networks, Cyber Security & Trust, Smart City & Community, 2 September, Espoo
- Forum on Smart Life: Intelligent Sensing & Services for Home, Smart Industry / Industrial Internet, 3 September, Espoo
- Forum on Education solutions for Sino-Finnish Learning Garden, co-organised with MoEC, 4 September, Helsinki
- B-2-B and research team meetings, China Coordination Steering Group meeting and Metropolitan area China actors Steering Group 5 September, Espoo
- Pure Finland, “Coolest brands from Finland”, September, Beijing
- China-Finland ICT Alliance Company & Digile Programme partner business and technology forums, 18-26 October, Beijing and Shanghai
- Shanghai Design Week, 13.-17.10.2014, Shanghai
- Radical Design Week, 16.-25.10.2014, Shanghai
- Pure Finland, “Destination Finland”, 23-25 October, Beijing
- Representatives of the Government of Hong Kong discuss China-Finland ICT Alliance, 31 October 2014
- City level cooperation initiatives in Beijing with the Mayor of Helsinki, Jussi Pajunen, November 2014
- City level cooperation initiatives in Shanghai with the Mayor of Espoo, Jukka Mäkelä, November 2014
- Business Forum and Research Workshop on Education / Learning Solutions and on Services for Elderly Citizens, November 2014, Shanghai
- Pure Finland, “Innovation Finland”, 25-27 November, Beijing
- Pure Finland, “Creative Finland”, December, Beijing
More Information on China-Finland ICT Alliance and DIGILE
DIGILE is the Finnish Strategic Center for Science, Technology and Innovation in Internet Economy. And, DIGILE is the Finnish side coordinator of China-Finland ICT Alliance that was initiated by Mr. Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology of China, and Mr. Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Finland in 2009. Its key objective is to increase R&D&I and business cooperation between Chinese and Finnish partners. China-Finland ICT Alliance focuses on integrated and multi-sectorial solutions in areas, such as digital services, next media, education technology, e-commerce, environmental sensing and monitoring, health and wellbeing, smart city and traffic, smart home, and 5G networks, and cloud computing and security. For more information, please visit the websites of China-Finland ICT Alliance www.ictalliance.org, DIGILE www.digile.fi and http://www.digile.fi/DIGILEintro or contact Dr. Matti Hämäläinen and Dr. Jani Kaarlejärvi (email@example.com).