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Aalto University – the driver of the multidisciplinary bioeconomy

Professors, researchers, representatives from industry and other interested stakeholders met at Dean's Circle event.

In Aalto University, bioeconomy covers a large spectrum, from top research and teaching on the molecular level to process development and new technological solutions. The importance of sustainable development, new business models, entrepreneurship and design has significantly increased recently. Students and co-operation with industry are at the strategic core of bioeconomy at Aalto University.  The aim is to create improved well-being and new work in Finland.

Dean Janne Laine hosted a Dean's Circle event at the School of Chemical Technology on 16 April. The Dean's Circle events function as a means of cultivating dialogue between the university, partners and benefactors.

Multidisciplinary bioeconomy meets Aalto University's strategic focus areas and is one of the nine significant infrastructures for research and teaching in the university. At the School of Chemical Technology, teaching and research in the field of bioeconomy is focused on process technology, industrial biotechnology and material science research. The aim is to refine renewable biomass into high-tech products, such as chemicals, fuels, and novel biomaterials. Increasing cooperation with experts in design and economics provides an extensive foundation for the creation of a new  bioeconomy ecosystem.

Twelve new professors have been appointed to the field of bioeconomy at Aalto University in recent years. The modern Bachelor's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering has already commenced, and a new master's degree programme will start next autumn. During the past five years, over 350 have graduated from the field as Masters of Science (Technology) and 70 as Doctors of Science (Technology). Moreover, in the field of bioeconomy, there are two currently active strategic TEKES projects, a Centre of Excellence of the Academy of Finland and a bioeconomy infrastructure project selected to the national roadmap. The research activities are very extensive and include EU, Academy of Finland, TEKES, SHOK and  industry cooperation projects.

From the cradle to the grave, cellulose for the skin and to the breakfast table

The programme for the event consisted of short presentations from different areas of research at the School of Chemical Technology and projects conducted together with other schools and partners at Aalto University. Professors Tapani Vuorinen, Herbert Sixta and Orlando Rojas presented cellulose as the material of the future. Executive in Residence Ainomaija Haarla and Designer in Residence Pirjo Kääriäinen spoke about biomaterials at the interface between design and business. Professor Markus Linder and students who participated in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, Minnamari Salmela and Martina Ikonen, expanded on the possibilities offered by synthetic biology. Finally, Academy Professor Jukka Seppälä described the potential of the  joint national bioeconomy infrastructure of Aalto University and VTT.

Academy Professor Jukka Seppälä and Postdoctoral Researcher Raili Pönni acted as moderators of the programme.

Executive in Residence Ainomaija Haarla and Designer in Residence Pirjo Kääriäinen.

Demos by researchers and students were also showcased at the Learning Hub AEREA Forum and in the hall of the Department of Forest Products Technology, and included research projects such as Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose (DWoC), Multidisciplinary Bioeconomy Reserach Platform through Digitalization and the PackAge (Interdiciplinary Packaging Design Project) teaching module.

The aims of a new fundraising campaign

Dean Janne Laine also mentioned the new fundraising campaign of 2015–2017 of universities.  Benefactors may choose to allocate donations of over €10,000 to the field of research of arts, economics or technology.  The aim of Aalto University is to strengthen the competitiveness of Finland and to build new competence.

Next Dean’s Circle will be organized November 2015 at Aalto University School of Business.

Photos: Lasse Lecklin

Read more:

Tekes: DWoC ja LiF
Academy of Finland: CoE HYBER (hyber.aalto.fi/en/)

BIOECONOMY infrastructure (www.bioeconomyinfra.fi/facilities)
Biotalouden tutkimusympäristö kansalliselle tiekartalle (aalto.fi)
National Infrastructure Roadmap for 2014-20 (aka.fi)

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