Helsinki Metropolitan Area cities contribute with €2.7M for urban research

The mayors of the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa and the Presidents of University of Helsinki and Aalto University have signed a contract for cooperation in urban studies and for funding a postdoctoral researcher posts at both universities for the period 2018-2023. The contributions of the cities to this research, which is designed to support development in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, total €2.72 million for the contract period.

The aim of the contract is to stimulate interaction between the universities and cities, support the high quality and social impact of the urban research conducted in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, and to upgrade the use of research findings in urban development. The idea is also to enable the birth and success of a strong urban research community in the metropolitan area.

”Successful cities need the kind of knowledge that is based on high-quality research. Big cities, especially, have challenges – but opportunities as well. In future, we will be needing more robust tools to solve the problems and grab the opportunities,” says Helsinki’s Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

The funds earmarked by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa are channelled to University of Helsinki’s Institute of Urban and Regional Studies beginning operation in 2018 and cooperating with the Aalto University’s multi-disciplinary Living+ collaboration platform. The postdoctoral researchers funded by the cities will be located in both universities.

Research themes directly from strategy programmes

The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa will participate in the recruitment of the postdoctoral researchers. The themes to be studied this year were selected directly from the strategy programmes of the cities.

The themes selected are crucial to development in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area: social inequality in cities, competitiveness of urban neighbourhoods, a carbon-neutral city, and how digitalisation changes urban life. To ensure continuous interaction, the researchers will also partly work in the premises of the cities.

Furthermore, University of Helsinki and Aalto University will allocate resources of their own, too, for the urban research cooperation by either establishing new researcher posts or directing the content of existing tasks towards university-city cooperation. The universities will also implement a common multi-disciplinary master’s programme in urban research and urban design (Urban Studies & Planning), where students will be involved in solving challenges that cities face.

"I’m very glad Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa want to deepen their cooperation with Helsinki University and Aalto University and to invest in urban studies. Besides promoting research and teaching, this kind of intimate interaction between cities and universities will stimulate the use of research findings in the cities’ own work”, says Jukka Kola, Rector of the University of Helsinki.

”Themes relating to cities are important and topical both in Finland and the rest of the world. Research helps understand developments and find new solutions to the challenges that cities are facing today. We at Aalto University are ready to contribute with high-level knowledge on, for example, architecture, traffic systems and urban design”, says Ilkka Niemelä, Aalto University President.

More about the subject:

Annina Ala-Outinen, Coordinator, Helsinki City Executive Office, +358 9 310 36588

Jari Niemelä, Professor, University of Helsinki