IHMEC - Opening indoor hygiene SME’s exports to Middle East construction markets

IHMEC project creates and exports joint indoor hygiene solution of Central Baltic area small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs) into Middle East construction markets using indoor hygiene (IH) as a competitive edge. The project brings together relevant clusters from Sweden, Estonia and Finland into a meta-cluster which aims to enter into the Middle East construction market with new and tailor-made IH solutions. One of the partners in the project is the HygTech Alliance.

The Middle East climate forces people to remain indoors and hence, large crowds, who are meeting daily at e.g. shopping centres, airports, schools and hospitals, are at risk of catching infections. New solutions are desperately needed to prevent the global spreading of serious infections.

Although Middle East market holds lucrative business opportunities, they cannot be utilized by a single company or cluster. All actors involved in planning, designing, building and furnishing indoor spaces are needed to reach effective IH results. However, most of the business actors in IH field are small or medium sized (SME’s) and lack the necessary knowledge and resources to export to host markets of considerable culture physical distance. IHMEC has the needed combination of local, indoor hygiene and marketing capability.

IHMEC has the needed combination of local, indoor hygiene and marketing capability.

"Finns are pioneers in indoor hygiene technology. Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and Pori Unit of the Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku, in co-operation with a large corporate network, have been researching solutions for improving indoor hygiene since 2012," says project manager Tiina Mäkitalo-Keinonen from the University of Turku School of Economics, who is coordinating the project.

These Living Lab research results have been processed, together with Building Information Foundation, into series of Indoor Hygiene guidelines. The guidelines cover comprehensively issues related to indoor hygiene. The guidelines provide the foundation for the solutions to be developed in IHMEC project.

"Our interdisciplinary team of researchers has mapped out guidelines and standards for indoor hygiene. Based on the survey it can be stated that these guidelines, made by Building Information Committee, cover the indoor hygiene so thoroughly first time in the world.Guidelines are an essential part of the export know-how that we are offering in the project: they create a qualitative criterion and make indoor hygiene visible," says Senior Researcher Riika Mäkinen from the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences.

Boost for Middle East Exports

In the IHMEC project, national clusters and partners' competences complement each other. The lead partner, the Turku School of Economics of at the University of Turku, is responsible for planning the export programme for the Middle East, together with the Uppsala University. The research and reference data on different technologies and materials are collected into a single data bank by the lead of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

IHMEC project team started the indoor hygiene related collaboration with Saudi Arabia by inviting Mr. Ibrahim Almafdali to Turku Schools of economics Pori unit to share insights about Saudi Arabian business climate.

"Estonians, for their part, are pioneers in module design, which offers the opportunity to integrate different solutions. The project will also create a so-called model space in Saudi Arabia, where customers can see what hygienic construction means in practice," says project manager Mäkitalo-Keinonen.

One of the partners in the project is the HygTech Alliance, an alliance of six Finnish companies that develops and markets hygiene management products and comprehensive solutions. Members of the alliance are Abloy, Isku Interior, Korpinen, Oras, Lojer and Teknos.

"Isku expects the project to boost the Middle East market. The export potential for the Middle East market is tens of millions of euros, and Finnish infectious control expertise is highly valued," says Anne Laitinen, Director of Health Care Area at Isku Interior Ltd.

The project duration is from March 2018 to February 2021. The project is co-funded by the Interreg Central Baltic programme and the total budget of the project is 2,18 M€.

More information: Tiina Mäkitalo-Keinonen, tiina.makitalo-keinonen@utu.fi

HygTech Alliance

HygTech Alliance is the alliance of six Finnish companies that develops and introduces comprehensive indoor hygiene management solutions and products.

ABLOY - automatic doors and hygienic Active products including door buttons, pull-cords, and barriers.

ISKU INTERIOR - Isku Health, the world's first range of furniture for reducing the spread of infections.

KORPINEN - bathroom furniture and products that take strict hygiene requirements into account.

ORAS - contact-free, hygienic, easy-to-use and safe faucets that save water and energy.

LOJER - antimicrobial hospital and care furniture.

TEKNOS - The active antimicrobial component in TIMANTTI CLEAN special acrylate paint and INFRALIT EP/PE 8235 powder coating and clear coat is silver phosphate glass based on BioCote® technology, which makes the paint surface hygienic and is proven to protect from many types of microbes such as bacteria and molds.