Aalto University: Three flagships receive continued funding

The Academy of Finland has granted funding to six competence clusters included in the Finnish Flagship Programme. The funding is for the second flagship term 2022–2026.

Aalto University coordinates FinnCERES, a competence centre developing new biomaterials, and the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence FCAI, and is also involved in the Photonics Research and Innovation platform PREIN focusing on light-based technologies. The funding granted to these three is over EUR 6.8 million, and it is for the funding period from the beginning of September 2022 to the end of 2024.

Research carried out in the flagships creates future know-how and sustainable solutions to society’s challenges, promoting economic growth by, for example, developing new business opportunities. According to the international panel reviewing the flagships, activities of the flagships have been very successful and their plans for the future are promising.

World-leading research on bio-based materials continues in Finland
FinnCERES Competence Centre, a joint effort by Aalto University and VTT, promotes bioeconomy via advanced bio-based materials. The aim of the programme is to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied research and provide a fast track for scientific findings towards real innovations and implementation. The close collaboration between the Flagship and the industry ensures that novel materials solutions can be transformed into successful business and new jobs in the future.

‘During the second 4-year term, FinnCERES will have a stronger emphasis on developing the fundamental findings further towards applications and scale-up. Moreover, the international collaboration via the Boreal Alliance will lead to scientific and educational impacts, accelerate innovation as well as promote science-based decision making,’ says Orlando Rojas, Scientific Leader at FinnCERES.

FCAI strengthens international cooperation in its second term
FCAI, a flagship initiated by Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, and the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT, develops new types of artificial intelligence that can work with humans in complex environments, and helps modernize Finnish industry.

‘We are happy to hear about the continued Academy funding for FCAI operations’, says Samuel Kaski, the director of FCAI.

‘Coming close to the end of our first term, we can proudly say that FCAI is well on its way towards developing the kind of AI-assisted decision making, design and modeling that we originally set out to accomplish,’ Kaski notes. ‘We have also created a broad and active ecosystem of partner companies and organizations, with which we bring the AI to benefit Finnish industry and society.’

During the second term, FCAI will have an additional focus on virtual laboratories, that is, computational environments of a number of fields, and developing AI tools that can help transform research across the fields. Another aim is to strengthen Finland’s contribution to the ELLIS network which brings together top AI researchers in Europe. FCAI hosts ELLIS Unit Helsinki, which is Finland’s link to the network.

PREIN brings together top experts in photonics
PREIN, coordinated by Tampere University, is a light-based technologies competence cluster for multi-disciplinary science, industry, and society. Combining the extensive resources and infrastructures of all its partners, PREIN covers all the value chain from fundamental research to applied research, product development and commercialization.

‘We are very happy in Aalto that the excellent results we achieved together with Tampere University, University of Eastern Finland and VTT during the first flagship phase are well recognised by the Academy of Finland. I thank the whole photonics flagship team for their great efforts and the enormous supports from the institutions. We continue our work, and the second phase will be further open up new lines of research, such as advanced quantum photonics, and of course continuously support more economic growth with various Finnish and international stakeholders’, Aalto University Professor Zhipei Sun says.

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