University campuses are currently considering how research results could be better refined for the benefit of society as a whole. To this end, the Vice-President-deans responsible for innovationhas been appointed to several faculties in early 2022.
According to Sasu Tarkoma, who will be appointed by the Faculty of Science, the vice deans on different campuses have already gathered to exchange ideas about their new role.
– We are excited to be able to take such an important issue forward.
Vice Deans collaborate with the Inno team, which was established in the fall to combine partnership services and help faculties a new level of innovation and business cooperation.
On the central campus, the greatest potential is seen in interdisciplinary collaboration
Johanna Mäkelä, Dean of the Faculty of Education, considers the multidisciplinary nature of innovations to be one of the strengths of the University of Helsinki. When research teams from different disciplines collide, something new and unexpected can emerge.
– I believe that interdisciplinary cooperation can increase the relevance, effectiveness and, above all, efficiency of innovation.
According to Mäkelä, the downtown campus has a lot to offer: it can help researchers in other fields understand how people use inventions. And there is also potential, for example, in researching compassion and improving basic services through language technology. Thus, Mäkelä emphasizes the importance of social innovations. Among other things, they can support society in implementing social and health reform.
– Innovation does not always automatically create business.
According to Mäkelä, long-term basic research is a prerequisite for inventions. In addition, it is important that information about innovation opportunities also reaches people who have not been interested in the topic before.
– The operating culture must be participatory.
The initial incubators, coordinated by the University and the City of Helsinki, will start offering innovation support on the Central Campus this year. Mäkelä himself also considers it important that the new services are now brought to all members of the university community.
In Meilahti, innovations and companies are based on the principles developed at Stanford University
New anticancer drugs that analyze data sets and demonstrate the social impact of treatments. Pioneering inventions may emerge in these areas in the coming years.
According to Risto Renkonen, who leads the innovation activities of the Faculty of Medicine, the Meilahti campus has been systematically investing in innovation for about five years. Now, the university’s latest investments are bringing new impetus to operations.
– You may soon ask what we have gained from this additional inspiration.
The campus features several innovation tools developed at Stanford Universityincluding interdisciplinary Biodesign teams visiting operating theaters and hospital wards to see what could be done smarter.
In Spark Finland early stage incubatorsresearchers can bark at their business ideas with the support of mentors, try them out in international networks and continue their journey Health incubator Helsinki accelerator program. Renkonen considers it important that researchers have the opportunity to present their ideas to international investors from the very beginning.
– There is no hope of targeting the Finnish market alone.
Meilahti also hosts Helsinki, the capital of health innovation platform and Terkko Health Hub entrepreneurial community. This activity is supported by Renkonen’s view that the most important thing now is to organize Meilahti’s innovation services into a clear entity and join forces with other campuses.
– Scientifically, we are well equipped to generate more business.
Artificial intelligence and climate inventions to put the Kumpula campus on the map
On Sasu Tarkoma’s home campus in Kumpula, the starting point is promising: several startups are established every year, including successes e.g. Nanoform. Below Kumpula Business Labs solution, companies have also found their place as part of the campus community.
The next goal is to make Kumpula known for its innovations both in the Nordic countries and in the rest of the world.
– We are working to raise our profile considerably, Tarkoma says.
Kumpula could rise to the top of the world map through, for example, groundbreaking atmospheric research or artificial intelligence startups. They will also play an important role this spring in building the first drafts of the innovation platform on campus.
In order to bring about innovation, Tarkoma believes that it is necessary to invest in the flow of information and services. Researchers must be provided with clear pathways for the processing of inventions, while companies must be provided with information about what is being researched on campus.
– Not everyone knows that we have such great activities.
Tarkoma believes that investing in business collaboration and innovation will bring interesting data and funding opportunities to the academic community. And what does the vice dean himself consider best in his new role?
– I look forward to the opportunity to have an excellent collaboration with our researchers and teachers.
Building a sustainable food system inspires the Viikki community
Mari Sandell, newly appointed Dean of Innovation at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, says that the faculty has a good productive spirit. In fact, his primary goal is to get researchers, teachers, and students to keep their enthusiasm.
– The people in our faculty have a lot to offer, Sandell says.
The Viikin Food Design FactoryThe recent addition of a campus established in cooperation with the City of Helsinki aims to make the food system sustainable. The design of a similar innovation platform for the forest sector will start in 2022. There is no shortage of suitable themes, as forests are related to almost everything.
– You can combine them with well-being, health, eating, construction and climate change.
According to Sandell, the faculty’s strengths are its long tradition of cooperating with companies and other social actors. Former members of Viikki have also set up their own companies, ranging from ice cream to antibiotic resistance-related land surveying and analysis services.
Sandell now has a key role to play in ensuring that well-off innovation activities take root in everyday life. This requires collaboration with other vice deans, the ecosystem team, the Inno team, and all members of the university community.
– The future of innovation looks really good here, Sandell concludes.