University of Vaasa science team chosen to the semi-finals of Helsinki Challenge

Posted on 16/01/17.

Part of the team Energy village 500: Team leader Pekka Peura and Pirkko Vartiainen, Arto Rajala, Kimmo Kauhaniemi and Erkki Hiltunen from the University of Vaasa.

Team Energy Village 500 from the University of Vaasa has been chosen to the semi-finals of Helsinki Challenge, the science-based idea competition. Team Energy Village 500 aims at establishing a countrywide network of energy villages: areas that produce their own renewable energy.

Helsinki Challenge brings Finnish universities together and advances multidisciplinary collaboration for the benefit of the whole world. The teams will tackle the UN’s sustainable development goals and create solutions.

Twenty researcher-lead teams were chosen to the competition’s semi-finals. Helsinki Challenge culminates in the award ceremony in November 2017 where the winning team will receive a prize of 375.000 euros. It is meant for the implementation of the solution.

– The Finnish energy system should be thoroughly renewed. Our solution is a concrete step towards getting rid of fossil fuelled energy and moderating climate change”, says Pekka Peura, director of the Levón institute of the University of Vaasa and team leader of the team Energy Village 500.

Energy villages aim to be completely self-sufficient when it comes to renewable energy. These areas can house dozens or thousands of dwellers and consist of all sorts of actors, from energy consumers to companies. Fields, forests and other parts of nature are a crucial component of the villages since that’s basically where all the renewable energy, such as bioenergy, wind power and solar power, stems from.
According to Peura, the solution is based on years of research, widespread collaboration and previous projects on the same subject.

The team members from the University of Vaasa are: team leader Pekka Peura, director of Levón insitute, professor Kimmo Kauhaniemi, research manager Erkki Hiltunen, professor Pirkko Vartiainen, professor Arto Rajala, project manager Ari Haapanen and researcher Simo Keskinen. The team has also members from the Ruralia Institute (University of Helsinki): professor Hannu Törmä, professor Sami P. Kurki and researcher Susanna Kujala;  from Aalto University: professor Raimo Lovio, professor Ari Ekroos, doctoral student Kanerva Sunila, researcher Aalto University and Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE): professor Antti Asikainen and senior researcher Perttu Anttila. Also Tapio Tuomi from ,  Keijo Siitonen from ProAgria Lapland and Jukka Lokka from Sodankylä municipality are team members.

Changing the world

This year Helsinki Challenge has three main themes based on the UN’s sustainable development goals that the teams took into consideration while coming up with their solution proposals. A total of 110 teams applied for the competition, including 340 experts from Finnish universities and over 160 other organizations. The ideas had to be science-based, solution-oriented, impactful, novel and creative to proceed to the semi-finals.

– The jury’s task was challenging. We are looking forward to seeing how the solutions will develop in the future. The competition proposals are founded in research and strong scientific expertise. The accelerator process might give rise to business, a new scientific field, a commercialisable idea, entrepreneurship or perhaps a scientific breakthrough. The direction is chosen by the team, the jury’s chairman Pekka Haavisto reminds us.

The semi-finalist teams participate in the accelerator programme that begins in January 2017. During the year-long programme the teams will develop their solutions, build networks, receive communication support and get the chance to collaborate.

– Today researchers are expected to engage in multidisciplinary collaboration that benefits society broadly. Helsinki Challenge is a platform for active interaction, cooperation and dialogue between different actors of the scientific community and society. This helps raise the impact of research, explains Helsinki Challenge project manager Ira Leväaho.

Helsinki Challenge is a collaborative effort of Finnish universities and is part of the Finland 100 jubilee year’s programme. The University of Helsinki organizes the competition together with the following universities: Aalto University, Hanken School of Economics, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Oulu, the University of the Arts Helsinki, the University of Turku, the University of Vaasa and Åbo Akademi University.

Get to know Helsinki Challenge’s semi-finalist teams:

challenge.helsinki.fi

More information:

Pekka Peura, leader of Team Energy Village 500, director of the Levón institute, University of Vaasa, tel. +358 449 8206, pekka.peura(at)uva.fi

Ira Leväaho, Helsinki Challenge Project Manager, University of Helsinki ‪ira.levaaho(at)helsinki.fi, ‪tel +358 50 5058152

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