During the strategic period 2017–2020, the University seeks to meet four major challenges. The digital world, ageing and health, globalisation and sustainable development. Its three strategic research areas include the life sciences, the human mind in a changing world as well as the structure of matter and materials science.

Life sciences are approached through the Helsinki Institute of Life Science. The human mind in a changing world consists of three thematic sub-areas: the digital humanities, the mind and change as well as the world order and global interaction. The structure of matter and materials science are a particular focus at the Faculty of Science.

Through these strategic research areas, the University seeks to focus its research profile and to guide research in a more multidisciplinary, solution-focused direction to generate competence clusters that transcend organisational boundaries. The strategic focus areas steer strategic research and investments at the unit and University levels. They will also boost the visibility of the research conducted at the University.