The EU is an important funder for the University of Oulu
The University of Oulu currently receives a good amount of research and innovation funding from the European Union. In the multilateral Horizon Europe cooperation projects, the University of Oulu is ahead of all other Finnish universities. The funding received during the Horizon programme period already totals EUR 37 million, and the sum is, happily, distributed widely among different faculties and other units.
One of the recipients of the funding is Henri Pauna who works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Technology. The project aims to develop a green steel manufacture route that is based on hydrogen plasma technology and, at the same time, promote the circular economy by utilising industrial side streams.
“Our goal is to implement a reduction process that is virtually free of carbon dioxide emissions. This is to achieve the Paris Agreement’s objective of reducing the carbon intensity of steel production by 90 per cent by 2050,” Pauna says.
Carbon dioxide emissions from global metal processing can be significantly reduced with the help of hydrogen plasma reduction. It can play a crucial role in modernising steel mills and cutting emissions.
The University of Oulu has intensified its support for young researchers, such as Henri Pauna, who aim to coordinate an EU project. Support for first-timers has led to successes. People can apply for the university’s internal support process twice a year. Information on the Horizon Europe consortium projects is available on the Patio instruction page.
Topics from various fields
In recent years, people who have been recruited into the university’s multidisciplinary profiling themes have succeeded well in obtaining funding. For example, Professor Thora Herrmann researches how climate change affects animal and plant species as well as the way of life, cultures and traditions of indigenous people in Arctic areas. The access to EU funding was facilitated by her truly extensive international networks.
Professor Ali Mobasheri, on the other hand, studies osteoarthritis. His current research focuses on cartilage biology, cellular metabolism, ion channel physiology and osteoarthritis biomarkers, in particular.
Associate Professor Marianne Kinnula and her team aim to create a new learning concept that will improve young people’s understanding of democracy. Among other things, the project will survey the trends of democracy education in different European countries.
Four MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship funds will bring to the University of Oulu skilled foreign postdoctoral researchers whose fields include material development and hydrology.
Partnerships are important
The current seven-year period of the Horizon Europe funding programme started in 2021. The application themes are largely the same as before, but today’s topics are also visible in the emphases, which include things such as microchips, energy crisis, critical raw materials and component shortages.
“As a university, we have learned to build better project consortia, that is, to look for partners diversely,” says Research Funding Specialist Kirsi Ojutkangas .
“Our partners in the technology sector have traditionally been industrial, but we have now also found excellent partners in the humanities and natural sciences. For example, Professor Sylvain Sebert’s new project involves hospitals and the European Association for the Study of Obesity.”
For the university, EU funding is increasingly important because the funding model of the Ministry of Education and Culture rewards it even better than funding granted by the Academy of Finland. However, the financing model will be renewed at the beginning of 2025.
“The Finnish government programme also sets the objective of doubling the EU research and development funding coming to Finland. We are very proud of our researchers who have gone through the application process and are now able to explore their interesting topics,” says Vice Rector for Research Taina Pihlajaniemi.
“Success in application processes increases credibility in other EU countries. Researchers will find it easier to participate in new, high-quality consortia, and the University of Oulu will be regarded as a valuable partner,” says Emma Pirilä, Director of Research and Project Services.
Horizon Europe, the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation, will support research and innovation in Europe with a total of EUR 95 billion between 2021 and 2027. The programme aims to combat climate change, help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals and improve the EU’s competitiveness and growth.
Photo: Researcher Henri Pauna working on an electric-arc furnace simulator.