The Bioscientific Society of Oulu had its annual company visit in May 7th, 2019. This year we visited VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and Finnish Food Authority (formerly known as Evira).
VTT is a research, development and innovation partner, which helps the society and companies to grow through technological innovations. VTT has over 75 years of experience and currently employs over 2000 people in Finland. In Oulu they have almost 300 employees. In VTT, we learned about PrintoCent innovation centre, in which companies can get easy access to new business development and pilot-manufacturing involving printed components, systems and products. Applications can cover i.e. disposable diagnostics, smart flexible lighting and sensors. For example, the research and piloting of Promilless alcohol test strip was conducted at VTT’s PrintoCent together with the original developer and marketer Goodwiller. The Promilless test includes printable biochemical inks developed together with VTT.
Another example is Clean Cardâ PRO, a hygiene test for monitoring the effectiveness of cleaning surfaces that come to contact with food. This test was developed by Orion Diagnostica and VTT, and produced by printing reagents on a textile. In addition, Salofa has commercialized a blue-green algae quick test, originally developed by VTT and the University of Turku. This test enables ordinary consumers to test if the water at their beach is free from cyanobacteria toxins. Unfortunately, during our time at VTT we could not visit the actual labs, since the size of our group was too big for this. However, the presentation gave interesting knowledge about the growing field of printable sensors and their possibilities in the biotech area.
Next, we visited the Finnish Food Authority, which began its operations 1.1.2019 when the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Elintarviketurvallisuusvirasto), the Agency for Rural Affairs (Maaseutuvirasto) and part of the IT services of the National Land Survey of Finland (Maanmittauslaitoksen tietotekniikan palvelukeskus) were merged into one single Authority. The Authority operates under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Maa- ja metsätalousministeriö), and its activities cover the entire Finland. Finnish Food Authority employs almost 1000 employees in nearly 20 locations around Finland, and in Oulu they have around 20 employees.
During our visit we learned about the recently established Finnish Food Authority and the work that is carried out in its offices around Finland. The unit in Oulu conducts animal disease related research and expert services with a focus on the targeted monitoring of wild and aquatic animals and their diseases, including rabies, echinococcosis, trichinellosis and Gyrodactylys salaris. Moreover, livestock disease and post-mortem examinations for the Northern Finland region are carried out in Oulu. In addition, the special parasitology services have been centralized here and the office works as the national reference laboratory for parasitology.
Our visit was completed with a tour in the analysis labs, in which the pathogens are studied. Interesting fact: even though the general animal disease surveillance is based on the animal/tissue samples sent by officials and environmental authorities as well as hunters/fishermen, ordinary citizens can also participate. This means that if you come across a deceased wild animal, you can send it to Finnish Food Authority for post-mortem examination (and will get a report of this too).