Rector Jari Kuusisto at the opening of the academic year of the University of Vaasa: "Science must not be compromised"

Rehtorin avajaispuhe
Rector Jari Kuusisto emphasised the social significance of science and the importance of securing research funding at the opening ceremony of the academic year of the University of Vaasa. In the panel, the Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen and the Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation Mari Kiviniemi discussed the future of universities and science with Kuusisto. Nine founders or core influencers of Jakamo, a growth company, were chosen as the alumni of the year. University Lecturer Anne Mäkiranta received an award from the Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce for her dissertation on asphalt and sediment energy. The opening ceremony was held virtually with video greetings.

The Rector of the University of Vaasa, Jari Kuusisto, highlighted the increasingly important role of universities as producers of research-based knowledge.

– It is important that the funding of science is secured in the future as well. Possible funding cuts are a threat to the quality of Finnish science. We must take all necessary steps so that the importance of science to our society is understood.

According to Kuusisto, the ongoing fundraising campaign is taking on an even more important role.

– We direct the funds raised as donations to the development of research and its impact, as well as education.

The university campus is currently being renovated under the principles of sustainable development.

– It is not just a question of the development of the physical environment but also of the operating methods. The needs of staff and students are at the centre, and that is why they have been involved in the ideation and development of the facilities.

In his speech, Kuusisto also highlighted the challenge that Finland's declining demographic development poses to universities.

– Educational and work-based immigration play an important role in finding solutions to the skills shortage in companies. Universities play a key role in recruiting, educating and integrating immigrants into the labour market. The goal of the University of Vaasa is that in 2030 about 35 per cent of our degree students have a foreign background.

The University of Vaasa is determined to continue to strengthen the impact of research.

– The investments made can be seen in the significant increase in the number of both external funding and publications. Education is also being renewed, both in terms of the content and teaching offerings. The recently announced ranking of the University of Vaasa in the international Times Higher Education rankings nicely demonstrates the positive development of which we can all be proud.

Society is changing, what will universities and science look like in 2030?

The panel was formed by the Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen, the Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation Mari Kiviniemi, and Rector Jari Kuusisto. The discussion was moderated by Hannes Torppa, the student representative on the Board of the University of Vaasa.

Kiviniemi called on universities to be agile, multidisciplinary and network-like.

– It is important that universities too could offer more short, targeted training. I also consider it important that the dialogue with the business community be as open as possible, not only on research but also on the learning content.

Minister Kurvinen emphasised the importance of basic research as acute societal needs are often surprising.

– They are black swans. As the Minister of Science, I would like to defend basic research which does not offer immediate financial gains. Applied research is built on it.

Rector Kuusisto, for his part, reminded us that a prosperous university community is the most important guarantee of success. Universities, he said, also need to make sure that there is a certain safe space where people dare to do things.

– If you cannot take a risk, you cannot achieve anything new.


Jakamo's team awarded as the Alumni of the Year

For the first time at the University of Vaasa, a team has been chosen as the alumni of the year instead of a person. The award-winning team includes nine founders or core influencers of the growth company Jakamo. They are also alumni or doctoral alumni of the University of Vaasa. The team is formed by Jarl Matti Anttila, Timo Rossi, Jukka Vesalainen, Matti Manner, Matti Mäkelä, Anssi Uitto, Tapio Niemi, Tommi Ranta, and Aki Vainio. The choice was made by Vaasan yliopistoseura (Vaasa University Society).

– The growth story and shared journey of Jakamo's team is a case in point of how to inspire students to entrepreneurship. The team is a great example of what the University of Vaasa represents: strong know-how, courage and innovation, says Juha Silander, the chair of the board of the society.

Jakamo has developed a collaboration platform for manufacturing companies. It enables knowledge-sharing and teamwork across organisational boundaries.

– That is why it feels natural to receive the Alumni of the Year award as a team. The University of Vaasa has a significant role in the existence of our entire company. The philosophy and DNA of Jakamo's innovation come from a pioneering organisational study conducted at the University of Vaasa, says Jarl Matti Anttila, Jakamo's chief marketing officer.


Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce Award to Anne Mäkiranta

The Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce has awarded Anne Mäkiranta, a university lecturer of energy technology at the University of Vaasa, EUR 5,000 for her dissertation on asphalt and sediment energy: Renewable thermal energy sources: sediment and asphalt energy applications in an urban northern environment.

– I feel that my research is valued and that I have done meaningful work. I am very grateful for this award, and I feel that it is a recognition for the entire Renewable Energy research group, says Mäkiranta.

– The Vaasa region is known for its expertise in the energy sector, and the industry employs about 13,000 people in the region. It is important that the university also invests in the energy sector and technology. Opportunities for new research and the need for employees will grow strongly in the coming years, encourages Juha Häkkinen, the CEO of the Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce.

Juha Häkkinen and Anne Mäkiranta

Further information:
Rector of the University of Vaasa Jari Kuusisto, tel. +358 29 449 8291,

Jari Kuusisto's speech at the opening ceremony
Greetings from Vice-Rector Martin Meyer
Greetings from Elmo Nikula, the chair of the board of the student union

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