Editorial – President’s spring letter 2017
Dear members of the Aalto community,
As spring approaches, we have been reviewing the results of last year and fine-tuning our plans for this year. We presented the results of Aalto University’s activities in 2016 to the Board at the end of March. Last year saw huge developments in the areas of publishing operations, competitive funding and the amount of degrees, and I would like to thank everyone for their efforts! We rank first in Finland in terms of ERC grants awarded through the Horizon 2020 programme. During the early part of this year, our marine technology researchers received a total of nearly one million euros in EU funding. We are one of the top 13 fashion educators in the world. Our School of Business now ranks second in the Nordic countries. In addition to all this, two Nobel prizes were awarded in 2016 to people in our immediate circle.
The joint strategy dialogues that we will hold in May will set the direction for 2018, and the resources to move forward in that direction will be decided upon in the autumn. Right now we are focusing on building partnerships with the private sector. An inspiring example of this work is the 10-year partnership agreement that we signed with SAAB early this year. To support such collaboration between universities and companies, we have taken a clear position calling for the government to provide Tekes with additional resources in its mid-term review.
We also cooperate closely with companies within the framework of our developing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The recently opened Health Technology House has brought research, teaching and entrepreneurship under the same roof. The Aalto Digi Matchmaking event attracted 80 companies to Otaniemi and Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (Aaltoes), which is led by our students, created the three-step Kiuas programme for founding start-ups.
The schools are working on several projects aimed at improving academic performance, student well-being and the annual accumulation of academic credits. Our digital transition has gotten off to a running start under the leadership of Kati Hagros. This is a big job, with the ambition of becoming one of the world’s best digital universities by the early 2030s. As our short history has demonstrated, we are capable of taking on major changes, so I believe that we will also be successful in this target.
The ‘Finland 100’ centennial is well underway, as are our centennial-related projects. Visit the Undergraduate Centre to see a timeline of Aalto's history and complement it with your own stories. Aalto’s first centennial video presented the life of Gustaf Komppa. Our aim is to produce up to 10 videos showing how Aalto and its predecessors have participated in the building of Finland over the last 100 years and how we intend to continue this work over the next 100!
My work at Aalto is coming to an end, and I will take over as President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) in late autumn. My aim was not to leave Aalto – I simply accepted a new position that allows me to continue working on behalf of a worldview based on science, education, technology, multidisciplinary cooperation and research-based knowledge.
I feel bitter-sweet, but I am certain that Aalto will continue its incredible development into a world-class, multidisciplinary innovation university. I am so proud of what we have accomplished during Aalto’s first nine years of working together. We planned our change with care following the models of our international peers, and the course we set has been enthusiastically and ambitiously carried out since January 2010. Aalto has become a diverse community that shares common values and a vision of the future. There has been an enormous amount of work, but we have overcome the biggest hurdles and produced meaningful results. We have carried out the national mandate given to us with honour. At international forums, we are now described as a model of renewal in the university sector.
I wish everyone a Happy Easter and a very rewarding spring! And, remember to join us at Alvar Square on April 19th to celebrate spring and the achievements of the Aalto community at Aalto Open Air, the event which kicks off the Aalto Festival.
With sincere regards,