Young at heart
A new era is beginning at the 50-year-old University of Vaasa. This youthful 50-year-old has been keeping in shape: the research activity is of high quality, the amount of degrees attained is growing, and the financial structure is solid. The people at the university believe that the process of renewal and opening up more to the outside world will keep the University fresh and vibrant long into the future.
“This is the most significant transition in the University’s history. We are modernizing our structures and creating new ways of doing high quality, and impactful scientific research,” says Jari Kuusisto, Rector at the University of Vaasa.
A major part of the reform has to do with three newly-founded research platforms that allow for an increasingly innovative and faster way to do research in cooperation with various parties. The platforms are related to energy industry innovations, digital economy, and researching innovation coupled with entrepreneurship. An indication of the important role that the research platforms play in the reform is that 10 percent of the University budget for 2018 is being used in their development.
The purpose of open research platforms is to connect the University’s activities more closely to society, and to produce increasingly relevant knowledge applicable for various uses. According to Jari Kuusisto, there has been a significant change in the availability of knowledge within a short period of time.
“It is no longer a matter of not having easy access to information. Now there is a need for those with the know-how to utilise that information.”
Kuusisto says that as a result of the reform, the University is recruiting plenty of new staff, but the new practices also apply to existing staff.
“There will be a lot of changes, but our employees have adopted an enthusiastic approach towards the matter,” says Kuusisto.
Anne Korkiakoski, a University of Vaasa board member since 2014, is a top influencer on the field of marketing in Finland. She has witnessed the activities of many Finnish companies first hand and says that otherwise-competitive companies often lack commercialisation expertise. Korkiakoski believes that the research done through the new research platforms will create solutions to the challenges of commercialisation.
“The University of Vaasa is in an ideal location, in the most export-driven region in Finland. There are a lot of interesting partners here for the University, and the new research platforms allow us to provide companies with knowledge that is relevant to them,” says Korkiakoski.