OP Group Research Foundation awards 1.2 million euros to a new financial institutions research group formed by the University of Vaasa, University of Jyväskylä and Aalto University

Launched in honour of OP Group Research Foundation’s 50th anniversary, this special initiative will bring together the knowledge and collaborative networks of three university departments researching the financial sector and financial institutions. Spanning several years, it will also promote academic research and postgraduate education in finance in Finland.


Finnish research on the financial sector and financial institutions will take major steps forward when the special initiative kicks off at the beginning of 2023. OP Group Research Foundation will award the distinguished research group a grant of 400,000 euros per year, a total of 1.2 million euros, in the years 2023–2025. The financial institutions research group is formed by researchers from the University of Vaasa’s School of Accounting and Finance, Aalto University’s Department of Finance, and the Economics department at Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics.

– Following this initiative, we would like to see the establishment of a dynamic and academically solid national research group studying financial institutions and their changing business environment from multiple perspectives, says Annukka Nikola, Chair of the Board of OP Group Research Foundation.

Foundation for long-term finance research and doctoral education in finance

Starting in early 2023, the initiative is a major new departure for both OP Group Research Foundation and the universities forming the research group.

Professor of Accounting and Finance Sami Vähämaa of the University of Vaasa believes that the joint project between three universities will lead to new knowledge on financial institutions. He also states that the project will advance research activities related to banks and doctoral education in Finland on a long-term basis.

– Our goal at the University of Vaasa is to examine how banks’ corporate governance mechanisms influence their social responsibility, sustainability-related risks, and the implementation of environmental and social initiatives, sums up Vähämaa.

–  This initiative will enable several research groups at different universities to focus on research instead of fundraising, as acquiring research data and hiring junior researchers is expensive. There can be no high-quality research without research data and people. This is the initial stage of a national research consortium of financial institutions that will enable the creation and growth of a strong research cluster specialising in banks and other financial institutions in Finland, says the delighted Professor Elias Rantapuska of Aalto University.

Kari Heimonen, Professor of Economics at Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, believes that the initiative will advance collaboration between universities and the banking sector. The annual grant will enhance the capacity for research of financial market institutions in Finland.

– OP Group Research Foundation’s support will enable the creation of a framework for long-term and sustained cooperation within which we can produce new, societally important research findings in support of the Finnish economy, summarises Heimonen.

The collaboration resulting from this initiative will produce new research information and expand university-level teaching on finance in Finland.

– I hope that this initiative will increase cooperation between universities and banks. I believe that the work done under this initiative will strengthen doctoral education in this highly important field, concludes Annukka Nikola, Chair of the Board of OP Group Research Foundation.

OP Group Research Foundation also has a long-term commitment to supporting research (and researchers) on financial institutions after awarding this grant.

Media enquiries

Annukka Nikola
Chair of the Board of OP Group Research Foundation

Professor Sami Vähämaa
University of Vaasa, School of Accounting and Finance
029 449 8455

Professor Elias Rantapuska
Aalto University, Department of Finance
+358 40 3538419

Professor Kari Heimonen
Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, Economics department



The purpose of the OP Group Research Foundation is to promote and support economic research, particularly in relation to cooperative banking operations.

The Foundation aims to fulfil its purpose by awarding grants for economic research, rewarding authors of doctoral dissertations in the field of finance, granting recognition and merit awards, arranging topical theme days and through all other legal forms of activity that further the Foundation’s purpose.


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