Twenty teams have been chosen to solve the grand challenges of our time in Helsinki Challenge, the science-based idea competition. The teams will tackle the UN’s sustainable development goals and create solutions for, among others, the loneliness of young urban people, aging, malaria and cancer treatment. Eight of these teams are led by Aalto University researchers.
Helsinki Challenge, the science-based idea competition, brings Finnish universities together and advances multidisciplinary collaboration for the benefit of the whole world. Twenty researcher-lead teams were chosen to the competition’s semi-finals. These teams will develop solutions in cooperation with businesses, organisational actors, decision makers and representatives of the media and public sector. Helsinki Challenge culminates in the award ceremony in November 2017 where the winning team will receive a prize of EUR 375 000. It is meant for the implementation of the solution.
'It is great that our teams were so successful. Projects in the fields of Aalto University key research areas bring new solutions for the benefit of the society', says Tuija Pulkkinen Vice President of Aalto University.
Teams tackle global challenges with strong scientific know-how
This year Helsinki Challenge has three main themes based on the UN’s sustainable development goals that the teams took into consideration while coming up with their solution proposals. A total of 110 teams applied for the competition, including 340 experts from Finnish universities and over 160 other organizations. Out of these the pre-qualification stage jury chose 20 semi-finalist teams for the accelerator programme. The ideas had to be science-based, solution-oriented, impactful, novel and creative to proceed to the semi-finals.
'The jury’s task was challenging. We are looking forward to seeing how the solutions will develop in the future. The competition proposals are founded in research and strong scientific expertise. The accelerator process might give rise to business, a new scientific field, a commercialisable idea, entrepreneurship or perhaps a scientific breakthrough. The direction is chosen by the team', the jury’s chairman Pekka Haavisto reminds us.
Professor Herbert Sixta of Aalto University leads one of the semifinalist teams, Ioncell.
'Our new fiber spinning technology has great potential to support the Finnish textile and forest industries. Preparations for this competition have helped us in crystallizing objectives and identifying challenges connected to commercialization', Sixta explains.
Herbert Sixta's team is developing a new type of cellulose fiber made out of Finnish wood. Photo University of Helsinki / Helsinki Challenge.
The accelerator collides experts of the scientific community and society
The semi-finalist teams include over 150 researchers and experts from Finnish universities, companies, organizations and public sector organizations. In addition to the scientific community, among others involved are the nanotechnology company Canatu, the City of Helsinki, the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland, the Natural Resources Institute Finland and Marimekko.
The semi-finalist teams participate in the accelerator programme that begins in January 2017. During the year-long programme the teams will develop their solutions, build networks, receive communication support and get the chance to collaborate.
Helsinki Challenge is a collaborative effort of Finnish universities and is part of the Finland 100 jubilee year’s programme. The University of Helsinki organizes the competition together with the following universities: Aalto University, 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.
Get to know Helsinki Challenge’s semi-finalist teams:
Tatu Pohjola, project manager, Finland 100, Aalto University
[email protected], +358 50 576 0125
Ira Leväaho, project manager, Helsinki Challenge,
Univrsity of Helsinki, [email protected], +358 50 5058152