Foresight process for the future identifies new research topics

A foresight process was launched at the University of Oulu last year. The aim is to identify new key research topics for the future and to promote related multidisciplinary research.
Jussi Paakkari metsässä.
Jussi Paakkari heads the foresight process at the University of Oulu.

The foresight process was launched with researchers at the University of Oulu and external experts in 2022. "The aim of the foresight process is to identify key research topics for the future and to promote related multidisciplinary research. In the foresight work, multidisciplinary research projects have been planned and funding has been successfully provided for a wide range of topics. New projects include, for example, the programming and applications of a quantum computer, local production and use of hydrogen energy and nature positiveness,” says Jussi Paakkari, Research Director at the Kvantum Institute. He is the head of the vision and foresight process and the preparatory work for the resulting multidisciplinary projects at the University of Oulu.

“One of the results of the foresight work was the subject of quantum computer technologies and applications. We wonder what schedule the quantum computers will be available to us, how they will be programmed and what they will be used for?” says Paakkari. As a result, Business Finland’s new Quantum Computing Campaign programme was built with other stakeholders and a project called Towards Reliable Quantum Software Development was launched together with the University of Jyväskylä. The project is led by physicist Matti Silveri and involves ICT researchers and application experts from the pharmaceutical industry and the banking sector, for example.

Kvantum Insitute’s foresight workshops bring scientists together

The Kvantum Institute organised a foresight workshop last October and raised the issue of a sustainable self-sufficient energy community. The subject created by the vision has been taken forward and a successful preparation process resulted a project called “The production and use of hydrogen as part of a local energy solution”. The project includes solar hydrogen research, material research and logistics and financial research at the Oulu Business School.

The production and use of green hydrogen as a locally self-sufficient energy solution supports the University of Oulu's profiling of hydrogen research and the University's renewed Arctic research strategy. A hydrogen valley project called the "Green Arctic Hydrogen Valley" was prepared for Horizon Europe, which includes 21 participants from the University of Oulu in addition to six research units and has a total budget of €19.2 million.

“The progress of human and climate change-induced biodiversity loss and its effects are becoming more and more of a concern to us. The subject was also clearly raised in the foresight work. Biodiversity loss means a reduction in habitats, species of organisms and their genetic diversity. Nature positive action slows down the loss of biodiversity and may also involve active measures to promote biodiversity. Nature positiveness is an increasingly visible and topical term, and its global significance is reflected, for example, by a recent network of nature-positive universities. To understand the subject better, we prepared a project called “Nature Positive Northern Ostrobothnia”, says Research Director Paakkari.

The foresight work will continue and will certainly lead to further interesting research openings. “The new Arctic strategy of the University of Oulu has just been published and initiatives related to its implementation are welcome. A new opening could be the environmental and biodiversity measurement data and data collected by citizens combined with advanced data analytics (=Arctic data hub). The expansion of research into sustainable energy solutions and natural resources in the Arctic is also an option on the agenda.”, Jussi Paakkari estimates the continuation of foresight work.

Last updated: 29.5.2023