A successful year for MUOVA – strong business cooperation and project activities

A successful year for MUOVA – strong business cooperation and project activities

Vaasa University of Applied Sciences’ Design Centre MUOVA had many successes in 2021. Business cooperation remained strong, several new projects were funded and publication activity was busy.

Vaasa University of Applied Sciences’ Design Centre MUOVA had many successes in 2021. Business cooperation remained strong, several new projects were funded and publication activity was busy.

The market-oriented design expert MUOVA is VAMK’s one-of-a-kind innovation unit, which acts as a link between the research world and SMEs. The activities of the Design Centre are based on close business cooperation – its mission is to strengthen the international competitiveness of SMEs through design.

“Our business services focus on producing innovative products, services, concepts and processes and building attractive brands,” says Annika Hissa, Director of MUOVA.

“In 2021, we completed a cooperation project with Geyser Batteries, which manufactures batteries with a low carbon footprint. The project involved building a brand for the company and designing user-oriented products in line with the brand’s modern approach,” she continues.

In addition to providing a wide range of business services, MUOVA organises design training for businesses. For example, the West Coast Startup business incubator of VAMK and the University of Vaasa organised 60 coaching sessions for 17 pre-startup companies during 2021. MUOVA also engages in large-scale publishing and RDI (research, development and innovation) activities.

Funding and publication targets met

MUOVA’s RDI activities aim to develop the region’s competence and innovative design solutions of the future.

“The challenges faced by companies and their views on viable research topics have a significant impact on what kinds of projects we choose to seek funding for,” says Hissa.

In 2021, MUOVA reached its external funding target and was able to continue its busy project activities. According to Hissa, new recruitments have also been made.

“Thanks to the funding we have received for our RDI projects, we have recruited five new design and business experts to our international, interdisciplinary team.”

MUOVA published a total of 65 new articles in 2021, exceeding the targets set. Publication platforms included MUOVA’s own Muovaaja online magazine, VAMK’s Energiaa online magazine and scientific journals, among others.

“The number of publications reflects the good progress made on the projects and the strong motivation of our people. According to a survey we carried out, job satisfaction and work energy were at an excellent level last year,” says Hissa.

Increasing role of service design

In 2021, MUOVA identified industrial service design, sustainable product and service solutions and business and design thinking, which refers to the provision of various design training courses for businesses, as its key themes. According to Hissa, industrial service design, in particular, is still very new in the business world.

“Services have increasingly become a focus for design. In the future, industrial companies will also be service organisations, so the development of industrial services will play a key role.”

MUOVA’s Development Manager Miia Lammi stresses the importance of testing in the development of services.

“Together with the University of Vaasa, MUOVA created CoProtoLab, an industrial service development environment where services are prototyped in the VR world.”

New projects to boost business resilience

Several new projects were launched during 2021. For several years now, the projects have focused on the green transition and digitalisation. For example, last year saw the launch of Eco-Boat, which focuses on creating sustainable deck solutions for boats, and DIGI-MODE, joka toteutetaan yhteistyössä Vaasan muiden korkeakoulujen sekä Technobothnian kanssa.

which promotes the use of digital twins in a virtual environment in Ostrobothnian businesses, in cooperation with Technobothnia and the other higher education institutions of Vaasa.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted new areas for development, which MUOVA has addressed with two new projects  – Digimagian and React2Marketin Digimagia is a joint project of MUOVA and Humak University of Applied Sciences.

“The fields of culture and arts faced many challenges when the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Launched in September 2021, Digimagia supports innovation in these sectors through service design. The aim is to make businesses better equipped to cope with change. Training courses are organised for companies to teach them how to convert their products into digital services,” Hissa explains.

React2Market was launched shortly after Digimagia.

“The aim of React2Market is to strengthen the ability of industrial micro-enterprises and SMEs in Ostrobothnia to respond to rapid changes in their operating environment through agile and market-oriented approaches,” says Hissa.

Major ECOLABNET project successfully completed

The ECOLABNET-project which started in 2019 and received €1.8 million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund, ended in 2021. This project was led by MUOVA and involved 12 partners from six different countries in the Baltic Sea region.

“The aim was to support SMEs in developing ecological innovations.
The project involved the development of eco-innovations by using bio-based materials and 3D printing. The products being innovated included a box for chocolates and dental bite guards, among others,” says Hissa.

The ECOLABNET project also highlighted networking, which Hissa considers to be an emerging theme for the future.

“In the future, we will increasingly need to work in networks and ecosystems. This also means developing ecosystems through design to make networks work together smoothly.”

Tutustu MUOVAn toimintaan tarkemmin