University of Helsinki, KU Leuven and Aalto University join forces to boost innovative research

Through a five-year partnership, the three universities will further seek to promote innovative research which is ingrained in the DNA of each university.

On 14 March 2022, Aalto University, University of Helsinki and KU Leuven proudly announce their strategic partnership during a visit of KU Leuven to Finland. The research conducted at the three universities and the unique ecosystems in which they are the beating heart has allowed Leuven, Espoo – where Aalto University is located – and Helsinki to take flight on the international innovation stage.

Establishing a closer link between these centers for research innovation is the logical next step as both Espoo and Leuven were among those cities nominated for European Capital for Innovation in 2020 with the last one being awarded with the title. The University of Helsinki and City of Helsinki have longstanding partnership in developing innovation ecosystems together.

Together with the ambition of Helsinki to become the learning capital of the world, this trilateral partnership between the three universities underscores an already fruitful and active academic collaboration. The partners have acknowledged a shared interest and ambitions to establish further joint research initiatives.

– This new research collaboration builds on a solid relationship of trust between KU Leuven, University of Helsinki and Aalto University, indicates rector Luc Sels from KU Leuven.

– The University of Helsinki has been a loyal partner in the LERU and Una Europa networks for a very long time and is very much related to KU Leuven in terms of culture, governance style and research tradition. Aalto University is a close partner in CESAER and CLUSTER and is for many universities a model of how technology, entrepreneurship and creativity together can underpin the curricula of the future.

Focusing on digital humanities and sustainability

In a first step, the collaboration will be furthered through an exploratory seed fund focusing on creating research linkages in two fields, which were already identified as particularly strong in gaining added value through collaboration: the fields of digital humanities and sustainability. To this end, a unique opportunity is offered to researchers from all partner institutions with a thematical call being launched on 15 March 2022.

– We have excellent research in digital humanities and sustainability in all three universities. I hope our researchers will find this seed funding an exciting opportunity to plan new collaboration. I am really keen to see what kind of new innovative approaches and complementarities will arise when researchers from the partner universities join forces, says rector Sari Lindblom from the University of Helsinki.

In order to achieve this ambition, a total funding of €150,000 is awarded jointly to fund up to five exploratory projects, to be shared equally by all partners and serves as a steppingstone for further academic collaboration.

– Growing the already existing bilateral collaborations into this trilateral partnership is an exciting new opportunity. The partnership combines complementary strengths of the three universities in a unique way and boosts the excellence and impact of our research, education and innovation activities, president Ilkka Niemelä from Aalto University concludes.

More information about the new strategic partnership: Vice-rector Hanna Snellman and Head of Development Anna-Maria Salmi.