Tekes funds 11 new international FiDiPro research projects

Tekes is providing funding for 11 new FiDiPro research projects in the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme. With the help of FiDiPro Programme Finnish universities and research institutions will be able to recruit an internationally distinguished professor or promising young researcher to their research groups.

“We received a lot of high-quality proposals, many of which promote the sustainable use of natural resources and the utilization of sustainable solutions in the business operations of various fields,” relates director Kimmo Kanto from Tekes.

In these new FiDiPro projects, the scientists resolve, for example, bottlenecks in organic food production, improve the management of mine water treatment, and develop sustainable energy technologies.

The FiDiPro programme, implemented by Tekes and the Academy of Finland, has functioned since 2006 funding over 100 research projects up to this point. FiDiPro researchers work in Finland for a period of 2 – 5 years. The purpose is to help Finnish research groups build sustainable international partnerships with global experts.

“The FiDiPro programme has brought about extensive international cooperation in many research projects. In assessing new projects, we look for expertise and fields that Finnish enterprises need in order to succeed in the future,” Hanna Rantala, who is in charge of the coordination of the programme at Tekes,explains.

Currently, the funded FiDiPro professors and FiDiPro fellows are located at Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, ETLA Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the University of Eastern Finland, Lappeenranta University of Technology, the University of Oulu and Tampere University of Technology. Tekes is funding the projects to a total of 12 million euros.

Additional information

Hanna Rantala
Senior Adviser
Tel. +358 (0)50 5577 797

Kimmo Kanto
Tel. +358 (0)50 5577 852

More information about the FiDiPro programme: www.tekes.fi/en/fidipro

List of funded FiDiPro research projects

FiDiPro Professors

FiDiPro Professor Peter Adriaens, The University of Michigan, United States
Finnish host organization:  ETLA, the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, Research Director  Petri Rouvinen
Research project:  Towards Sustainable Positioning for Value Capture and Investability - A Roadmap for Finnish CleanTech
The project lays out an implementable roadmap for strengthening the competitiveness of the Finnish CleanTech sector. The map marks a path of concrete milestones away from the linear, rigid and cost-driven value chain model that is still characteristic of Finnish CleanTech, and towards an adaptive, value generation- and renewal- driven business ecosystem model. In a joint collaborative effort with CLEEN Ltd., RYM Ltd., the Finnish Cleantech Cluster (coordinated by LADEC Ltd.), and the Global CleanTech Cluster Association, ETLA and Professor Adriaens will (1) analyze the value generation potential of the Finnish CleanTech sector in its current form, (2) determine its current value capture capabilities that dictate how much of the generated value is actually retained in Finland, (3) analyze how these capabilities would be improved by a transition from the conventional chain-based model to an ecosystembased portfolio model, and (4) draw a policy roadmap that will guide and facilitate the transition


FiDiPro Professor Rauf Hürman Eric, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Finnish host organization: Aalto University, professor Pekka Taskinen and University of Oulu, Professor Timo Fabritius
Research project:  Sustainable Production of Ferroalloys

The outcome of ProFe project will emphasise the role scientific fundamentals in the ferroalloy making as well as in its technology development, leading to more sustainable ways of metal making with higher utilization of resources. It will create a firm basis for the development of the ferroalloys production and end-use for the Finnish Base Metal cluster over the entire process chain, from the raw materials to the ferroalloy.

Ferroalloys are an important group of raw materials for the steel industry. They are source for most alloying elements of the carbon and alloy steels. As binary alloys of iron and an alloying element (e.g. chromium, manganese, nickel, niobium or vanadium) ferroalloys may contain also a third element, typically carbon or silicon. Its metals are strong oxide formers and thus iron in their raw materials enables easier metallisation in ferroalloys smelting. For that reason, carbon is used to release the metals from their raw materials which today is carried out at very high temperatures in electric furnaces. Due to nature of the raw materials, the ferroalloys production requires a lot of energy and has large carbon footprint. The aim of the project is to analyse the potential for lowering the energy consumption. The target will include new processing and reduction concepts for decreasing the carbon utilization in the ferroalloys smelting, as well as new ferroalloy products.


FiDiPro Professor Suck-Joo Na, Department of Mechanical Engineering, KAIST, Korea
Research Project:
Digital materials engineering and modelling of mass and heat flow for optimisation of joining of materials 
Finnish host organization:
  VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Research Professor Veli Kujanpää

Fusion welding processes are key enabling technologies in virtually all the exported Finnish machinery products. Therefore, simulation of welding technologies and the resulting potential improvements in productivity, materials and energy usage rate, and product life cycle costs have an extremely strong influence on the national economy. This project strengthens remarkably the Finnish capabilities for modelling of modern high-productivity welding and joining processes.

The project goal is to raise the Finnish welding simulation expertise, facilities and tools to international top level at all scales and phases of the welding processes: (i) molten weld pool behaviour prediction and control, (ii) weld metallurgical and microstructural optimisation during molten stage, solidification and cooling, and (iii) macroscopic behaviour of the welded product or component with respect to residual stress state and/or welding deformations. The scientific aspects of welding simulation will be fostered and developed further at VTT together with top national and international RTD partners. The practical production environment expertise and industrial implementation will be led by the industrial partner companies, supported by VTT.

The key action to reach this goal is to establish co-operation with the top Korean technical university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology KAIST by inviting professor Suck-Joo Na of KAIST Division of Mechanical Engineering for a visiting professorship. Prof. Na is one of the globally leading scientists in the field of process simulation of arc and laser beam welding, most notably of laser hybrid welding.


FiDiPro Professor Nasser Peyghambarian,  College of Optical Sciences,  University of Arizona, United States
Finnish host organizations:  Aalto University, Professor Harri Lipsanen and University of eastern Finland, Professor Seppo Honkanen
Research project: Emerging nanophotonic devices using advanced materials
In this project, Prof. Nasser Peyghambarian from the University of Arizona will work as a FiDiPro-professor, hosted by Profs. Seppo Honkanen and Harri Lipsanen from the University of Eastern Finland and Aalto University, respectively. Peyghambarian is a world-renown scientist in the field of optics and photonics. In his career he has investigated a wide range of important research topics, spanning from fundamental issues on semiconductor physics to applied research on high-power fiber lasers. The overall objective of the project is to carry out state-of-the art research in the fields of fiber lasers and nanophotonics. In addition to the important scientific goals, the main goal of the project is to initiate new business opportunities in Finland in the important field of photonics. Therefore, the project will be carried out in very close collaboration with several Finnish industrial partners.



FiDiPro Professor Junuthula N. (J.N.) Reddy, Texas A&M University, College Station, United States
Finnish host organization:  Aalto University, Professor Jani Romanoff
Research project:  Non-Linear Response of Large, Complex and Thin-Walled Structures
Non-linearity exists in the structural response of all large, complex, thin-walled structure, e.g. ships, bridges, airplanes. Howerver, non-linear effects are often omitted in practical design work due to the differences in scale at which they can occur. These scale differences cause significant computational efforts, which often lead to time-consuming design processes. Thus, at early design stages such as concept design the assessment of the non-linear response becomes unfeasible. Safety of structures need to be ensured; thus investigations of interesting new structural concepts are often avoided.

We will develop a new, computationally efficient, numerical approach to take into account non-linearity while calculating the structural response of large, complex, thin-walled structures under extreme loads. This is fundamental in order to ensure an accurate and efficient estimation of these structures’ safety and promote the design of innovative structural concepts. We target a computationally cheap method that will lead to shorter design cycles on more advanced structures; thus improving the competitiveness if the Finnish industry in this matter.

In order to succeed in this ambitious project, Aalto University will invite Professor J.N. Reddy from the Texas A%M University as FiDiPro professor. Professor Reddy has considerable expertise in computational modeling of non-linear structural problems, including the evaluation of scale effects using numerical methods. We will establish a research group around Professor J.N. Reddy at Aalto University.


FiDiPro Professor Carlo Leifert, Newcastle University, Newcastle, England, UK
Finnish host organization: University of Helsinki, Professor Juha Helenius and MTT, Principal Research Scientist Helena Kahiluoto
Research project:
Sustainable productivity growth and expansion of organic value chains (GrowOrganic)

The project identifies factors that prevent or enhance sustainable transition in organic value chains, and their capacity to adapt to demand, volatility in the market, and environmental variability and change.  At the same time, the project sheds light to resilience in food system, a generic issue relevant to food security. Together with the partners the project identifies the value chains with highest growth potential. For sustainable growth in these chains, the project aims to solving technological bottlenecks related to productivity, economic and environmental sustainability, and food quality and safety of organic food production systems.  The project develops models for farmers networking as a way to manage product flow and overcome waste threshold for domestic and export markets. Recycling fertilizers, renewable energy and feed self-sufficiency are themes emphasized in the project. Qualitative as well as quantitative research methods will be employed. GrowOrganic is aimed to be a significant contribution to capacity development in the Finnish organic sector. The project has 17 non-governmental organizations or private companies as partners. Together with the partners, the project produces such new public knowledge and information which serves success of organic production and organic businesses. Further information about the project is available at www.luomuinstituutti.fi.



FiDiPro Professor Christian Wolkersdorfer, University of Waterloo, United States
Finnish host organization: Lappeenranta University of Technology, Professor Mika Sillanpää
Research project:  Intelligent Mine Water Management – iMineWa 

Current mine water treatment options are aiming in the purification of a waste product and separating this waste product into two streams: a purified water than can be discharged into receiving water bodies and a concentrated waste product that needs to be disposed of. iMineWa is targeting on a paradigm shift in mine water management. iMineWa will improve the current water management on site and contribute to a valorisation of the mine water by using the constituents as a raw material for metals and fertilizers. Improving the water management means that unpolluted and polluted water streams are separated already within the mine and that the geothermal heat stored in the water will be used to heat buildings or the purification process itself. This shall be done by improving sensors, tracer-techniques, using statistical procedures and expert systems or neural networks to control the water flow on site. The valorisation of the mine water will be conducted by optimising treatment technologies and selective extraction of (semi)-metals or anions that can be used as fertilizers. Methods that need to be adapted for the multi-element constitution of mine water will be membrane technologies or electrochemical methods in addition to biological methods and nanotechnology. Experiments will be conducted on the lab scale and up-scaled to a pilot plant on the site of a currently working mine.


FiDiPro Fellow

FiDiPro Fellow Alhussein A. Abouzeid, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, United States
Finnish host organisation: University of Oulu, Professor Matti Latva-Aho
Research project: Multi-Operator Spectrum Sharing for Future 5G Networks

The demand for mobile broadband wireless communications is expected to increase exponentially as the number of mobile devices and applications continues to grow. This calls for scalable and dynamic methods for increasing spectrum utilization efficiency. This project conducts research on the design of algorithms for dynamic spectrum sharing within and across multiple operators in real-time. The work will incorporate methodologies and tools including communications and information theory, machine learning, optimization algorithms, stochastic processes, game theory and economics. The techniques to be developed will benefit all the stake holders in future 5G networks: 1) users, by allowing flexible and wireless access at competitive prices, 2) service providers, by allowing them to create value from otherwise idle/un-used spectrum, and 3) society, by improving the utilization efficiency of wireless spectrum, which is a valuable and limited resource.


FiDiPro Fellow Leonid Chechurin, Principal engineer at Samsung Electronics and the Research Fellow at St.Petersburg State Polytechnical University, Russia
The Finnish host organization:  Lappeenranta University of Technology, Professor Tuomo Kässi
Research project:  Systematic creativity development for new product creation in green energy

Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) invites for the project Professor Leonid Chechurin, who is an internationally renowned expert and practitioner of the TRIZ systematic invention method. The TRIZ is a systematic problem solving theory. The method shall be applied in the research project to innovate new technological solutions relating to green energy equipment, and to the development of ecological manufacturing. The new sustainable energy solutions require further development of the energy production technologies and standardized industrial grade equipment and machinery, for instance to be suitable for decentralized use in both operational and financial terms.

The research project is based on the cross-disciplinary combination of LUT know-how in manufacturing technology, systematic creativity methods as well as industrial engineering and management. The project both develops the TRIZ technical problem solving theory to be suitable for the Finnish research and industrial environments and applies it to the green energy solution design and manufacturing problems. The research project will result in both new technological solutions in the area of green technologies and new scientific knowledge about the utilization of creative methods in the development and commercialization of green technology solutions.

The FiDiPro Fellow Professor Leonid Chechurin will be employed full-time in the project. In addition, the project will employ two post-doctoral level researchers from LUT. The project duration is three years and it is carried out in cooperation with industrial partners.


FiDiPro Fellow Peter Horvath, Institute of Biochemistry, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Finnish host organization:
University of Helsinki, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, Research Director Johan Lundin
Research project:
  In this proposal we outline an interdisciplinary research project dedicated to finding computational solutions to challenges in biomedical imaging, specifically focusing on high content imaging (HCI) of cells and tissues. To harvest all available information from cells and tissues derived from patients, we require novel analysis techniques which are well beyond the state-of-the-art. For example, the automation of image analysis for pathology, cytology and hematology is a significant growth area for future clinical diagnostics.

In this project we have combined the expertise of the FiDiPro candidate Dr. Peter Horvath (ETH Zürich, Switzerland) in biomedical image analysis with the on-going biomedical and translational research at the University of Helsinki (UH) as well as with a large group of companies from the fields of health and informatics. The involved partners represent the whole innovation chain in the health sector, from academic research groups and core facilities affiliated with the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM, UH) and the Biomedicum Imaging Unit (BIU, UH) to companies on biomedical image analysis, therapeutics development, diagnostics and clinical laboratory services. On the informatics side, the innovation chain is covered by partners involved in algorithm development and testing as well as a cloud-service and end-user software providers.

The deliverables of this project are novel image analysis and machine learning tools applicable for example, for cancer tissue biomarker detection. First, the project will focus on questions driven by translational biomedical research on patient samples, being more customized and service-based. Secondly, the solutions will be geared towards intelligent automated pipelines that would benefit clinical laboratories and medical treatment providers. In addition, this project will create a significant Finnish knowledge cluster within currently emerging field of image-based clinical diagnostics.


FiDiPro Fellow Leonidas Ntziachristor,  Aristotle University Thessaloniki, Greece
The Finnish host organizations: Tampere university of Technology Professor Jorma Keskinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute research professor Risto Hillamo , VTT  Technology Manager Jukka Lehtomäki  ja Turun AMK,  R&D manager Juha Kääriä. 
Research project: Health relevant and energy efficient regulation of exhaust particle emissions

The purpose of this project is to study and endorse an integrated approach for emission control: by promoting energy efficient control methods the overall emissions, including CO2, can be minimized. The overarching objective of this proposal is to identify unorthodox cases of exhaust particle control and to provide alternative and more robust approaches for health relevant and energy efficient control of particle emissions. In addition, emission control shifts from the traditional laboratory testing to field testing, including portable emission measurement devices and real world operation conditions.