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Celebrating 100 years of innovation

The Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) will celebrate 100 years of university-level education and research in technology in 2008. As Finland’s oldest and largest university of technology and architecture, TKK has played a prominent role in building Finland’s industrial and economic competitiveness – and will continue to do so as part of Finland’s new ‘university of innovation’ to become operational in 2009.

The roots of the Helsinki University of Technology stretch back to 1849, when the Technical School of Helsinki began the systematic teaching of technology in Finland, as part of efforts to increase the competitiveness of local industry. After being awarded university status in 1908, TKK has awarded doctoral and master’s degrees in technology and architecture and has become the leading Finnish university in science, technology, and architecture, with a solid international reputation.

While 102 new students were admitted in 1908, the number totalled more than 1,000 in 2007. From 20 first degrees awarded in 1908, today’s TKK awards over a thousand annually. During its hundred-year history, TKK has awarded more than 35,000 first degrees and more than 2,200 doctorates, of which 168 were awarded in 2006.

Today’s TKK is structured around four faculties, 24 departments, and three separate institutes, which offer 11 degree programmes to around 15,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Seven units at the university currently hold Centre of Excellence status within the national network coordinated by the Academy of Finland. In addition, TKK is also a member of three joint Centres of Excellence.

TKK will also be one of the partners – along with the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design Helsinki – in the new ‘university of innovation’ to become operational in 2009.

The Helsinki University of Technology will celebrate 100 years as a university in 2008.

Over 1,000 R&D projects

TKK takes part in over 1,000 R&D projects annually, in partnership with hundreds of companies, including Nokia and other ICT companies, and businesses in the forest products, mechanical engineering, the chemical sector, and nanotechnology, as well as the Finnish Defence Forces.

Industry is a partner in one project in two; and more than a third of projects are international, with the main emphasis on European cooperation in research and training.

International innovation

The Otaniemi International Innovation Centre (OIIC) has played an important part in the university’s activities since it was founded around 10 years ago, and offers a wide range of professional services – from research liaison on R&D projects and managing TKK’s IPR portfolio to assistance for start-ups.

The OIIC is also responsible for managing TKK’s research contracts, commercialising inventions, assisting students with their careers, and alumni relations.

The OIIC acts as a ‘one-stop shop’ for R&D services in promoting the development and use of competencies, skills, and new technologies; and contributes to innovation activities across the university’s campus at Otaniemi and the Helsinki Metropolitan Region.

Concentrated high-tech

Otaniemi is home to a wide range of scientific and technological activities, and has been the most important centre of high technology in northern Europe for some years.

TKK and several other institutes such as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, together with hundreds of high-tech companies, form a unique and innovative community, and one that has been named the EU’s ‘Most Innovative Region’ a total of three times.

The Helsinki Metropolitan Region, for its part, has been ranked as the EU’s most competitive region in the European Competitiveness Index.

Otaniemi is an excellent example of the close collaboration between public research organisations and industry that is so characteristic of the Finnish innovation system – and TKK itself has a long tradition of successful collaboration with industry.

TKK is one of Europe’s leading technical universities. Photo: Adolfo Vera.

Promoting innovation

Seven units at the Helsinki University of Technology hold Centre of Excellence status within the national network coordinated by the Academy of Finland:

  • Bio- and Nanopolymers Research Group
  • Smart and Novel Radio Research Unit (SMARAD)
  • Adaptive Informatics Research
  • Computational Complex Systems Research
  • Computational Nanoscience (COMP)
  • Low-Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices, and
  • Systems Neuroscience and Neuroimaging Research.

TKK is also a partner in three joint Centres of Excellence:

  • From Data to Knowledge Research Unit (with the University of Helsinki)
  • Helsinki Brain Research Centre (HBRC) (with the University of Helsinki and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa), and
  • Inverse Problems (with the Universities of Helsinki, Kuopio, and Oulu, and the Lappeenranta University of Technology)
> Veijo Ilmavirta
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)