Sino Finnish 100 Challenge, a joint programme involving top Finnish and Chinese universities which was the largest event in China to mark the Finnish centenary of independence, celebrated its winning participants and the programme’s achievements in a gala finale in Shanghai in December. The programme will continue for the next five years.
‘This programme, which has lasted over a year, has produced long-term results which are significant for future cooperation between Finland and China’, stated Radical Design Week ry Chairman, Professor Yrjö Sotamaa, lead organiser of the programme.
‘The most important thing is the high level network now established, through which long-term cooperation can be built. A total of over 3000 people have participated in the project in its various stages. We have been able to create real encounters between people because the programme created a concrete foundation of working together through its workshops and summer schools’, explains Sotamaa.
The programme’s new kind of operating model, involving cooperation between cities, universities and businesses, provides an opportunity for Finnish businesses in China and those seeking to enter the Chinese market to recruit local talent and make use of product development prototypes.
‘Universities provide a good platform for understanding how a society functions. The way in which businesses fund university activities in China is beneficial to both parties’, explains Programme Director and Professor at Aalto University and Tongji University Jarmo Suominen.
‘Finns have massive opportunities in a competitive China, but here one succeeds only through being on location and creating long-term relationships between people and organisations. We believe that during the last year we have succeeded in this well and have been able also to get local universities to work together in previously unseen ways. Getting competitors to participate in creative cooperation is not an everyday matter in China. We are hoping for more resources and partners.’
Chinese students interested in Finland
In addition to working together, one of the central goals of the Sino Finnish 100 challenge has been to increase the level of interest in Finland among students from top-level Chinese universities and bring more of them to Finland to study or work.
Students Mengfan Chen, Jingming Sun and Dejun Zhang, who all study in Tongji University in Shanghai, were among the top ten participants in the Sino Finnish 100 Challenge idea competition, which received 661 entries in total. For developing language teaching in China, they came up with an Internet-based virtual learning environment in which students from different countries can talk with each other in English, learn from each other and make new friends and contacts.
Chen, Sun and Zhang participated also in the summer school run by Aalto University in July and August, which brought together over 100 students from different universities in China, Korea and Finland.
‘Studying at the summer school was very different from studying in Tongji. Here, teaching means lectures in which students just listen, but in the summer school we worked together in workshops’, Mengfan Chen says.
All of them would like to return at some point to study in Finland.
‘I would like to come to Finland as an exchange student’, says doctoral student Dejun Zhang.
Programme set to continue
The programme has been given a five-year term from 2018 to 2022. The theme for next year is ‘life in future cities’. Events related to this theme will include an idea competition in spring 2018, a summer school in August, and development projects in the autumn. Multi-year projects will involve implementing design solutions in different cities. The goal is to gain the participation of more and more educational institutions and cities in both China and Finland.
‘In the spring, the aim is to bring Aalto students to Shanghai and participate in May in the city development seminar, which will bring together mayors from around 100 innovation cities in different countries’, Yrjö Sotamaa explains.
The winning competition entrants from the gala finale. Chosen for their content, the ideas comprise projects related to different city development themes:
Unfinished Life Expectation, Guangdong Technical University, Guangzhou
New Sustainable Community, Tsinghua University, Peking
Beijing Sharing Fuel Cell Bike Design, Tsinghua University, Peking
An online to offline learning bridge, Tongji University, Shanghai
Sino Finnish 100 Challenge’s first year was coordinated by Radical Design Week Association ry (RDWA) with support from the Suomi 100 programme and in cooperation with Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, the City of Espoo, the Finnish Embassy, Shanghai Consulate General and leading Chinese universities.