20 years of HIIT: "Information technology research is now more important than ever"

The Helsinki Institute for Information Technology celebrated its 20 years anniversary in November. Dive into the celebrations and see how information technology research has evolved during the past 20 years.

In November 2019, the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology celebrated its 20 years anniversary. The Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT is a joint research institute of Aalto University and the University of Helsinki for basic and applied research on information technology.

In the celebrations, the past and present HIIT directors gave a retrospect of information technology research during the past 20 years and envisioned what the future will bring.

Dive into the celebrations and see how both HIIT and information technology research have evolved during the past 20 years.

The rector of Aalto University Ilkka Niemelä reminded that HIIT is an important link between IT industry and universities. He emphasized that HIIT has always had a multidisciplinary take on research and mentioned, that many research projects have been carried out together with e.g. sociologists and lawyers.
“HIIT has a track record of outstanding research and success in project funding, and I hope to see equally impressive results during its next 20 years.”

The rector of the University of Helsinki Jari Niemelä emphasized the importance of collaboration of the two universities, for which HIIT was founded in the first place. “Aalto University is our main partner in cooperation. Together we are stronger in international competition.”

Professor Martti Mäntylä, the first director of HIIT reminded the audience that HIIT was founded at a time when ICT sector started to rapidly grow. “We needed to create bigger units in order to attract international talents. Those were fun times!”

During the early years, HIIT wanted to strengthen the computer science research carried out at the University of Helsinki and enhance linking theory with practice. “HIIT also increased mobility between the two collaborating universities”, said Heikki Mannila, President of the Academy of Finland.  

Professor emeritus Esko Ukkonen led HIIT from 2004 to 2008. “HIIT has been an intensive research environment and acted as a professor school of a kind. Now it is a platform for independent research programmes. During the past 20 years, we have experienced changes both in universities and their funding and also in the industry. The research carried out in our field is now more important than ever.”

”If we put our resources together we will do better in the international competition” was the idea behind HIIT, according to Professor Petri Myllymäki, current HIIT director. He pointed out that organisations do not produce results, people do. “HIIT is a competence centre but it is also a community in the metropolitan area, and its success has been brought on by its people.”

In the event, also HIIT’s current researchers and alumni reflected on the influence HIIT has had on their careers: