The Finnish Research Impact Foundation has announced the funding recipients under its pilot call for Tandem Industry Academia Professorships, which was opened in autumn 2022. The six professors have been awarded TIA funding for 12-month research periods with their chosen industry partners.
TIA funding provides an opportunity for professors to focus on their research and to take advantage of the practical knowledge and know-how of their industry partners. The combination of world-class research competence with sound industry understanding makes it possible to produce useful information that addresses the needs of both parties.
The Board of the Finnish Research Impact Foundation decided to award TIA Professor funding to the following six professors:
Tero Soukka, Professor of Biotechnology, University of Turku
Ulla Lassi, Professor of Applied Chemistry, University of Oulu
Anne Juppo, Professor in Industrial Pharmacy, University of Helsinki
Hele Savin, Professor of Micro and Nanoelectronics, Aalto University
Clare Strachan, Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, University of Helsinki
Jari Hyväluoma, Research Professor, Natural Resources Institute Finland
More detailed project descriptions are provided here.
“We already have professors of practice who move from businesses to work in academia, but as yet there is no system to support mobility in the opposite direction. Based on our discussions with stakeholder groups and a questionnaire we conducted, there is strong demand for this kind of funding that gives professors from the academic world the opportunity to work more closely with business and industry,” says Leena Otsomaa, FRIF Board member who contributed to the working group that prepared the new funding scheme.
Hele Savin, Professor of Macro and Nanoelectronics from Aalto University, is clear that business companies play a critical role in the development of her field:
“My goal is to help resolve major social challenges as quickly as possible, and the best way to do that is to work closely with a major semiconductor company. They have the clearest picture and understanding of existing bottlenecks in the industry today. Without these insights that come from the business side, it would be difficult to know how the tools I have developed in the project can best serve the needs of an industry that is struggling with a global shortage of microchips.”
During their funding term TIA professors will spend a period equivalent to one full year working in facilities provided by the business company. The funding may be spread out over a maximum of three years. The purpose of TIA Professor funding is to support collaborations between industry and research organizations and to give professors first-hand knowledge about relevant areas of research interest for business companies. Projects may involve precompetitive research and other supportive activities.
The projects funded under the new TIA Professor pilot scheme address a wide range of themes, including the search for substitutes for lithium-ion batteries; the surface structures of pharmaceutical preparations; the use of soil improvement fibres produced from side streams of the pulp and paper industry; and the prospects of therapeutic proteins and peptides.
Professor Clare Strachan from the University of Helsinki says her TIA professorship offers a great opportunity to gain a deeper insight into industry needs. “Although my research comes close to the needs of the pharmaceuticals industry, I’ve never actually worked for industry. I’m very much looking forward to spending time with Orion Pharma and expect it will enrich my research and my teaching, as well as help create new contacts for future research projects.”
Many of the TIA professors feel that the joint projects bring important added value to university tuition and education: “Stronger links with industry and practice should mean that in the future, we pay closer attention to the needs of business companies in developing the university curriculum,” says Tero Soukka, Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Turku.