Infotech Oulu Annual Report 2016 - Foreword

Scientific Director Matti Pietikäinen, Doctoral Program Director Timo Rahkonen and Coordinator Tapio Repo
matti.pietikainen(at) oulu.fi, timo.rahkonen(at) oulu.fi, tapio.repo(at) oulu.fi

The principal goal of Infotech Oulu is to create an environment for the development of world-class research groups by promoting long-term research, researcher training, and international cooperation. An independent international panel evaluates the research groups that apply for membership of Infotech Oulu, using criteria similar to those used by the Academy of Finland. With such regular external evaluation, we can help our research groups succeed and give them the valuable Infotech label. Nine research groups were selected to Infotech Oulu for years 2014–2017.

Our research is held in high esteem by external funders. The total external annual research funding remained about the same as in the previous year well over EUR 15 million. Funding from the Academy of Finland – that we value most – is over a quarter of it. Less than half of our funding comes from Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation).

The funding from the University changed significantly for 2016. Previously, we got annually about EUR 400 000 which we were allowed to use according to our own will, mainly directed to our research groups. However, this funding ceased in 2016, but we still got funding for salaries of the coordinator, and first time also the scientific director (part of the whole salary). Instead of direct support from Infotech Oulu, the research groups got post-doctoral position; six best groups based on our external evaluation got one position each and three other groups got half a position for 2016–2017. In addition, Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program received EUR 864 Million in form of doctoral student positions, and EUR 120 000 for operational costs and coordination.  

One milestone in achieving the highest level in research is the Finnish Centres of Excellence (CoE) research program by the Academy of Finland. In the current call for 2018–2025, several Infotech Oulu research groups were involved none of them got into the second application round. However, Academy Professor Juha Kostamovaara’s group, as a part of a joint unit Centre of Excellence in Laser Scanning Research, continues to have the CoE status for 2014–2019.

One of the principal goals of Infotech Oulu is to promote international collaboration. Both bilateral cooperation between research groups, and participation in EU and other international research programs are important. We have promoted international activities by providing financial support for organizing workshops and arranging courses and lectures given by visiting experts. The main funding for these activities came from our doctoral program.  About 35% of our whole staff was from abroad. With the doctoral students, the number is slightly higher. Based on these figures, our research is more international than ever.

The number of doctoral dissertations within Infotech has grown during the past few years. In 2016, the output was 22 dissertations from the research groups of Infotech Oulu. Some of these dissertations came from other doctoral program than ours. The total number of dissertations from the Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program was 31. The latter figure includes also those dissertations where the doctoral student did not work in the group. In addition to the nine groups of Infotech Oulu, additional seven groups belonged to the Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program.

The doctoral student positions are extremely important to Infotech Oulu, because this funding supports most efficiently the current and future long term research that we value most. In addition to the 20 positions for years 2014–2017, we were granted 12 four-year positions for 2016–2019 with glowing comments. According to the feedback from the evaluators, Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program is strategically significant, excellent program; large, well organized and internationally competitive research community that has notable external funding, remarkable impact on society, excellent co-operation (i.e. VTT), origin for new startups, very good supervision arrangements, numerically good results in doctoral training, good employment rate for doctors, especially to enterprises and abroad, great number of foreign doctoral students, excellent operatives (Academy Professor, several FidiPro-vacancies, ERC-researchers, involvement in a group with Centres of Excellence status by the Academy of Finland, good results by the research groups in Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2013).  In addition to doctoral student positions funded by the University of Oulu, many of our research groups are involved in I4Future Doctoral Programme that received EU funding for 20 doctoral student positions for four years starting in 2017.

Large organizational changes in the University of Oulu continue. Now we have new Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering and quite new University of Oulu Graduate School that will still make substantial changes to our doctoral education. There is still more to come through renewal of the service structure in 2017. In any case, it is important to find the most efficient way to support our world-class top research in the University of Oulu.

Last updated: 24.5.2017