Aalto University: Nokia Foundation grants professor Yrjö Neuvo a recognition award for achievements in development of postgraduate education

Nokia Foundation has granted its 2021 recognition award to professor Yrjö Neuvo for achievements in developing postgraduate education and helping the newly graduated doctors become employed in the Finnish companies and corporations.

Each year more than 1800 doctors graduate from the Finnish universities. Compared to countries like Sweden, Germany and USA, the employment of doctors in industry is low in Finland. Promoting the postdoc employment in companies is crucial to the long-term competitiveness and strategic renewal of Finnish companies.

Nokia Foundation granted Yrjö Neuvo a recognition award in its annual award event that was organized virtually also this year.

Hannu Kauppinen, Chairman of the board of Nokia Foundation, said: “There’s in increasing need to employ doctors in the companies. Especially the Finnish technology companies, Nokia among others, are in need of highly skilled experts who can help the companies to innovate and renew its products and services. Strong relationships between the universities and companies and making the latest research results available are crucial for developing the Finnish society. With this award we want to demonstrate our appreciation for the important work that Yrjö Neuvo is doing to help the doctors become employed in the Finnish companies but also help the postgraduates develop the needed working-life skills.”

Yrjö Neuvo is seen to have pursued three career paths. He worked as professor for digital signal processing at Tampere University of Technology. He has also had leadership position at Nokia corporation. Nokia Foundation now recognizes his outstanding achievements in the development of doctoral education and collaboration with Finnish companies. Of special merit we wish to note the establishment of the PoDoCo (PostDocs for Companies) program for postdoctoral researchers and Bit Bang course for the doctoral students.

The Bit Bang course was arranged for the first time in academic year 2008-2009. Since then the course has been organized altogether nine times as a multidisciplinary program for postgraduate students from universities around Finland. Yrjö Neuvo designed and implemented the multidisciplinary education program combining technology and business sciences, and fields of art, already before the multidisciplinary Aalto University was established. During every Bit Bang course the group of students attended a field trip abroad to visit a technology hub with leading companies and research centers to understand the research, development and innovation strategies of the country. As part of the course the students published their own Bit Bang related books that are freely available in the Internet.

PoDoCo program was established to support the employment possibilities of doctors in the companies and corporations. The first projects started in 2016. A project is a joint effort of the postdoc, the company and the funding foundation. A PoDoCo project is usually a two-year project consisting of two phases, research and targeted development phase.

In cooperation with the postdoc, a PoDoCo project aims to generate the company new information on how to develop and grow its business. The projects have managed to investigate and develop i.e. new technologies, new ways of working, business concepts as well as new market trends and demands. The PoDoCo program currently cooperates with 11 foundations.

During its existence the PoDoCo program has witnessed successful projects in several companies. The projects represent all areas of sciences, although 35 % of the projects are in the field of nature or engineering sciences. The program has been quite impactful as in 90% of the PoDoCo projects, the postdoc has eventually been employed by the company.

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