Aalto participates in Helsinki Challenge

New contacts prompted Tanja Kallio to participate in the competition. Kallio and her team have developed a new type of catalyst.

Helsinki Challenge, the science-based idea competition, has proceeded to its next stage when over 100 teams registered their competition entry by the mid-November deadline. The jury, with Pekka Haavisto as its Chair, will select a maximum of 20 teams for the so called accelerator programme where the teams will further develop their ideas in co-operation with mentors. The teams, chosen for the accelerator programme, will be announced in January 2017.

Helsinki Challenge is part of the Finland 100 celebrations, which also Aalto University takes part in.

We asked Aalto University's Professor Tanja Kallio what prompted her to take part in this competition. 'Helsinki Challenge is a great channel for getting to know new people and perhaps a way to get funding for an innovation we believe to be important and promising. The possible funding we'd use for further research and on how the innovation could be utilised.

Professor Kallio and her team research new type of catalysis where critically classified raw materials are not used, materials, which EU has classified as critical raw materials (CRM) because of their scarcity or geopolitical reasons. 'The aim is to develop catalysis based on generally available raw materials and to optimise them for potential applications, such as for reserving energy and for the manufacture of bio-based materials', Kallio explains.

Tanja Kallio's team comprises expertise from different organisations and areas. Aalto University brings to the team electro catalysis and modelling and the University of Oulu heterogeneous chemical catalysis expertise. Canatu Oy is a SME representative in the team and gives their expertise in the production of CNT materials in the research. The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland (KT ry) communicates the results to the Finnish chemical industry and the general public. KT ry also acts as a link between the team and the industry that utilises catalysis.

The jury will narrow down finalists from a group of semi-finalists after which the winner(s) will be announced in December 2017.


Helsinki Challenge is a science-based idea competition and accelerator programme, which brings different actors of the scientific community and society together to solve the great problems in the world. The challenge themes Sustainable Planet, Urban Future, and People in Change are linked to the UN’s sustainable development goals. The idea competition’s prize is 375,000 euro and it is meant for putting the solution into practice.

The competition organisers are: the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the Hanken School of Economics, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Oulu, the University of the Arts Helsinki, the University of Turku, the University of Vaasa, and Åbo Akademi University.

#finland100  #aalto

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Image: Sini Pennanen

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