Scientific Director Matti Pietikäinen, Doctoral Program Director Markku Juntti and
Coordinator Tapio Repo, Infotech Oulu
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 and with our internal quality control, we can help our research groups succeed and give them the valuable Infotech label. 2011 was the second year in our current four year period. An important part of our operations is the Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program, which supports all our goals by providing funding for doctoral student positions and for lectures given by international experts that visit our research groups.
The University of Oulu is currently experiencing organizational changes, especially with regard to doctoral studies. The University of Oulu now has only one graduate school called the University of Oulu Graduate School (UniOGS). As part of a transition on a national level, what used to be called graduate schools, like the former Infotech Oulu Graduate School, are now called doctoral programs. This represents a relatively significant change, because the role of faculties and departments is diminishing, and the tasks of doctoral programs may increase. The Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program will naturally be involved in this process, and also actively contribute to this development. The director of our doctoral program, Professor Markku Juntti, is a member of the management group of UniOGS, and is the chair of its doctoral training committee of technology and natural sciences. Our key target is to maintain and develop the best practices and the high quality of doctoral education within the Infotech Oulu Doctoral Program. An even more significant change can be expected as a result of national developments which may end the doctoral program applications through the Academy of Finland, with the transfer of the funding directly to university budgets.
Infotech Oulu has achieved its best concrete results through the doctoral program. The present 25 student positions financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture are funded until the end of 2013. In addition, an annual EUR 107 500 has been granted by the Academy of Finland for courses and other costs for the same time period. The research student positions are vital for our researcher training. They represent almost one million Euros annually, and about one third of the external long term research funding of our research groups. The number of doctoral dissertations within Infotech has grown significantly during the last few years. In 2011, the output was 24 dissertations from the research groups of Infotech Oulu.
One of the principal goals of Infotech Oulu is to promote international collaboration. Most of our groups have already extensive collaboration with overseas partners. Both bilateral cooperation between research groups, and participation in EU or other international research programs are important. Infotech Oulu and its doctoral program have promoted international activities by providing financial support for organizing workshops, and arranging courses and lectures given by visiting experts. We have also sponsored researcher mobility. Starting from 2011, Infotech Oulu research groups were awarded funding from the University of Oulu for three positions for recruiting international experts from abroad. The personnel of our research groups has become more international year by year. At the end of 2011, 28.9% of our whole staff and as much as 32.1% of the doctoral students were from abroad. Based on these figures, our research is more international than ever.
Direct annual support from the University to Infotech Oulu was once again EUR 400 000 after a temporary increase that we were able to enjoy a couple of years ago. Our research is highly ranked by external funders. The total external annual research funding was about EUR 16.4 million. Our most significant funding source is Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation). We have been pleased to notice that the greatest increase during the last few years has been with funding from the Academy of Finland. It rose slightly from the previous year, representing now 20.8% of our total external funding.
The scientific output has been continuously increasing, and many of our papers are frequently cited. Citation analysis statistics show that our most cited professors compare well to the Academy Professors and the Finnish Centre of Excellence leaders in the ICT area with the number of citations. During 2011, our research group directors have obtained important positions and other achievements: Professor Heli Jantunen was granted an ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (EUR 1.9 million). No one from the University of Oulu has won this funding before. Professor Juha Kostamovaara was re-selected to an Academy Professorship by the Academy of Finland for five years starting from June 2012. Professor Matti Pietikäinen was appointed an IEEE Fellow, and Professors Matti Latva-aho and Olli Silvén were selected as members of the Finnish Academy of Technology.