The University of Vaasa's digital economy research platform secures top women of digital industry as mentors – new advisory board kicked off
Anne Berner, Sari Heinonen, Mervi Airaksinen, Anni Ronkainen and Corinna Schulze (not in the photo) are the new members of the Digital Economy advisory board. Photographer: Matti Remes
The University of Vaasa and its Digital Economy research platform are about to get support for developing their research and operations from influencers of business and society.
Digital industry leaders from different business fields have been invited to the new advisory board of the Digital Economy research platform. The members of the board are Chief Digital Officer Anni Ronkainen from Kesko, Director, EU Government Relations Corinna Schulze from SAP, Managing Director Finland and Baltics Mervi Airaksinen from Cisco, Senior Vice President, Private Customers and Digital Sales Sari Heinonen from OP Group, and member of SEB's Board of Directors and owner of Vallila Interior Anne Berner.
Anni Ronkainen comments that as a University of Vaasa alumni, it was a great delight to receive an invitation to the advisory board.
– Research and the business world must go in the same direction, and the research topics of digital economy are relevant also from the perspective of companies. We can bring forward the needs and challenges that companies are facing.
Corinna Schulze, who works in Brussels, has long-standing experience with European legislation. Her contribution to the advisory board is expertise and current information on EU-level regulation and legal issues.
– A special focus is on matters related to data protection and cyber security. Also legal and ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence and machine learning are topical.
According to Mervi Airaksinen, the definite asset for a small country like Finland must be intelligent research and the resulting world-class expertise in selected industries.
– This is a great opportunity to make an impact and mentor research from business standpoint.
Sari Heinonen says that she brings to the advisory board the perspective of a large player operating in the consumer business.
– I have previously worked in a university, and I believe that companies and universities should cooperate more in Finland.
Anne Berner joined the advisory board because she wanted to offer her expertise and experience to the University.
– The advisory board is also an excellent place to follow how research on digitalisation and its practical application are developing in Finland and beyond.
Jari Kuusisto, the Rector of the University of Vaasa, says that the advisory board promotes a productive interaction of the research platform and the entire University with the surrounding society.
– The goal of the University is to increase both the quality and the amount of research activities. Closer networking with external experts is important.
Professor Heidi Kuusniemi, Director of the Digital Economy research platform points out that the advisory board has leaders of the digital age from different backgrounds: the ICT industry, the finance sector, traffic and communications, commerce, as well as regulation and data protection.
– The advisors help the University and the research platform to select digital economy research disciplines that are most important societally, to network nationally and globally, to open doors to the top organisations of digitalisation, and to vision future research and development needs.
According to Kuusniemi, the expertise of the advisory board will be utilised to also raise visibility and influence.
The Digital Economy research platform of the University of Vaasa is an open research environment for research on innovations that utilise new technologies as well as their impact on individuals, organisations, industry and the whole society from a multidisciplinary perspective. Research subjects include AI, machine learning, regulation in the digital age, and the impact of digitalisation on ways of working and communicating.
At the moment, the University of Vaasa has three multidisciplinary and phenomenon-based research platforms: the VEBIC (Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre) research platform of energy and sustainable development, the Digital Economy research platform, and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab research platform. The two other research platforms also have their own advisory boards with representatives of the University's stakeholders as members. Phenomenon-based research platforms complete the University of Vaasa's faculty-specific research and open up our doors to the surrounding society.