The University of Helsinki to establish an AI research centre in Hong Kong 

The University of Helsinki is planning to open the Hong Kong–Helsinki Oasis for Innovation and Technology (H2O), focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for smart and sustainable cities in Hong Kong together with local and international partners.

Vice-Rector Hanna Snellman has kicked off the H2O initiative at the Finland–Hong Kong Smart Mobility & Communication Day in Hong Kong. H2O will pave the way for unprecedented opportunities in innovation and cultural exposure across the two regions for professionals and students alike. 

Chancellor Kaarle Hämeri from the University of Helsinki says the H2O centre is a great opportunity for the university to address global challenges such as urbanisation, climate change and sustainable development. 

“All of these challenges can be addressed with the help of digitalisation and AI. This work needs wide networks and partnership actions, which we will develop in global research and innovation platforms. The H2O initiative is clearly our spearhead in advancing our global impact," says Hämeri.

H2O will enter the bidding for the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission’s AIR@InnoHK cluster, which is to fund 10 AI/Robotics research centres connected to top universities from all over the world. 

The first  fully integrated Augmented Reality city

H2O will focus on AI for smart and sustainable cities by leveraging two unique strengths of Finland: AI and mobile communications. H2O’s objective for Hong Kong is to be among the first cities connected to 5G and to showcase these technologies and applications by becoming the first fully integrated Augmented Reality (AR) city. AR acts as an immersive human–technology interface and provides seamless interaction with data science and AI applications, enabled by the power of 5G. 

Beyond 5G, Finland has funded the first 6G research initiative in the world. H2O aims to connect the two regions in high tech to establish leadership in taking research beyond 5G for smart cities by developing real-life pilots and showcase environments for new technologies. 

With its growing multiplicity of data sources, AI is playing more and more of a crucial role in our understanding of the world. The University of Helsinki has successfully unleashed the power of AI for environmental sustainability by combining data from thousands of connected sensors to predict and evaluate air quality. At the forefront of cloud- and edge-based future computational systems, 5G mobile communication is currently under active development, and several operators around the world are planning to deploy the first commercial networks by 2020. 

Strong research cooperation

In strong partnership with local academia in Hong Kong, research centres and industry, H2O will benefit from a strong local involvement and establish itself as a natural hub for innovation in Hong Kong made possible through nationwide support from Finland, including Nokia, Nokia Bell Labs, Business Finland (Tekes), the City of Helsinki, team Finland in China as well as the Finnish network of companies and startups. 

The University of Helsinki is a Distinguished Academic Partner of Nokia Bell Labs. Nokia has expressed strong support for the H2O initiative in Hong Kong. 

“The University of Helsinki has been a strong partner in RDI for Nokia. We highly endorse their proposal to establish an international hub for technology and innovation at the H2O centre in Hong Kong,” says Lauri Oksanen, Nokia’s Vice President for Research and Technology.

The University of Helsinki and  the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for research collaboration and researcher exchange. The aim of the Memorandum of Understanding is to further consolidate the local engagement of the University of Helsinki in Hong Kong. The document was signed by University of Helsinki Vice Rector Hanna Snellman and HKUST Dean of Engineering Tim Cheng and witnessed by Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland Anne Berner. For international cooperation, the University of Cambridge will collaborate in H2O’s research programmes. 


Professor, Nokia Chair in Data Science

Pan Hui

Phone: +358-50-3119738

Professor, Head of the Computer Science Department

Sasu Tarkoma

Phone: +358-40-5062163