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From the Dean: From ideas to innovations

The high quality of basic research carried out in Aalto School of Science has again been recognized by external funders during this semester.
Researchers experimentally demonstrated that patterning of magnetic materials into arrays of nanoscale dots can lead to a very strong and highly controllable modification of the polarization of light when the beam reflects from the array. The picture is taken from the news "Putting a new spin on plasmonics".

Congratulations to Prof Sami Kaski for the prestigious Academy Professor Grant,  to Prof. Pertti Hakonen for  the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant, and to Dr. Jani Oksanen for the ERC Starting Grant!  

Aalto SCI is proud to host five new Academy Fellows and six new Academy post-docs.  Our researchers also won eight new four-year research contracts from the Academy of Finland. In addition, several major contracts have been won in the European Union Horizon2020 programme. In total, the value of these highly competitive research grants exceeds 17 M euro. 

I want to thank all involved for the hard work and commitment needed for such an excellent achievement. The winning formula for a strong research environment consists of talented and motivated researchers, strong service and support teams, and cutting-edge infrastructure.  We will apply this formula also in the future.

Excelling in basic science is not our only goal. The knowledge and ideas arising from research must be translated into applications, solutions and innovations for the society at large. Contrary to some opinions, excellence in basic research and relevance for society are not in conflict but rather strengthen each other. There are many examples showing that the academically strongest units also have the greatest societal impact.

However, the translation does not happen by itself. We need to scan systematically for ideas with exploitation potential arising from the work in research laboratories.  Thinking about the application potential, often in a different area, should be an equally important part of the research process as publication of the results in prestigious journals, and a natural function of a strong research environment.

There are many hurdles in the path from an idea to an innovation, and many kinds of support action are needed in the path.  However, it is critically important that there are many radically new ideas that are fed into the innovation pipeline in order for at least a few to succeed.  This is one of the responsibilities of a research university.

Risto Nieminen
Dean, School of Science

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