Expertise from FCAI selected to the Finnish government’s Research and Innovation Council

Photo Anni Hanén / Aalto University

Photo Anni Hanén / Aalto University

Samuel Kaski, Director of Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI) and Professor at Aalto University, and Antti Vasara, CEO of VTT Finland, have been appointed to the Finnish Government’s Research and Innovation Council. The new council was elected on October 10.

FCAI is pleased that Finland sees the importance of artificial intelligence and the Finnish government displays trust in knowledge and research in general.

The Research and Innovation Council is an advisory body chaired by Prime Minister Antti Rinne that addresses issues relating to the development of research and innovation policy that supports wellbeing, growth, and competitiveness.

The vice chairs are of the council are Hanna Kosonen, Minister of Science and Culture, and Katri Kulmuni, Minister of Economic Affairs. The other three governmental members are Li Andersson, Minister of Education; Anna-Maja Henriksson, Minister of Justice; and Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior.

The other members of the new council are Heidi Fagerholm (Head of Early Research and Business Development at Merck KGaA), Peppi Karppinen (Dean at the University of Oulu), Ilkka Kivimäki (Partner at Maki.vc), Petra Lundström (Director at Fortum), and Vesa Taatila (Rector and CEO at the Turku University of Applied Sciences).

FCAI supports Finland’s EU presidency aims for AI

The Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI) supports Finland’s plans to focus on digital development and challenges of AI during the country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union. Finland is bringing these topics up in its programme for the presidency period, and Samuel Kaski, the director of FCAI and professor at Aalto University Department of Computer Science, sees that as an excellent thing.

“The EU needs to launch new big things in addition to the recently decided super computers, one of which will be placed in Finland. During its presidency, Finland of course needs to work for the whole EU, but at the same time, it is necessary that it doesn’t forget to continue working on its own AI programme at full speed,” says Kaski.

AI, and data and platform economies are key factors contributing to Europe’s growing productivity, prosperity, and wellbeing.  According to Finland’s programme for the presidency, maintaining economic growth and employment will depend on the ability of business and industry to make full use of the potential offered by digital technologies.

During its presidency, Finland wants to promote discussion on AI and digitalisation with a view to developing tomorrow’s capabilities. The economic potential of digitalisation and AI applications is enormous, and Europeans need to be frontrunners in tapping into these developments, politicians write in the report.

Businesses and academic institutions in China, United States, and the rest of the world compete fiercely for top AI talent. Kaski points out that China and the US are currently investing large sums of money in AI research. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges of European AI research is to be competitive. If Finland and the rest of Europe react to this competition too late, they will end up suffering from a brain drain.

“Fortunately, Europe isn’t helpless at all. At this moment, European top AI research is about to organize into strong networks and the EU is currently working on an investment plan. Finland is a frontrunner with its AI strategy, the latest version of which was just published, and it has been strongly involved in creating networks,” according to Kaski.

Motivated research groups, vibrant startup culture, and cooperation with companies are Finland’s strengths

According to FCAI, Finland needs to invest in its existing top talent and attracting new talent in order to stay in the front line of the global AI competition.

Finland needs to enhance its position by strengthening existing top expertise in small-data research and strong traditions in B2B operations. Finnish business operations rely strongly on B2B businesses. Moreover, remodelling funding and research, and encouraging businesses to invest in AI is crucial. FCAI has sent these key messages also to the new government of Finland.

Similar points were brought up in the final report of Finland’s Artificial Intelligence Programme 2019, written by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland. The report was recently published in English, and FCAI supports its initiatives.

The experts of the ministry write that Finland’s strengths include highly motivated research groups focusing on emerging sectors, a vibrant startup culture, and close cooperation between research institutions and companies. According to the report, FCAI is an excellent example of an institution that develops AI-based solutions for processing small amounts of data and solving problems of B2B companies. It has an important role in boosting Finland’s strengths.

Overall, the establishment of FCAI and the flagship funding granted by the Academy of Finland is one of the main actions Finland has already taken in order to ensure that AI can be adopted more quickly and easily. This is an important step towards training and attracting top talent to Finland. “Through FCAI, the Finnish leading-edge research can form one hub in the international competence network,” experts of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment write.

The complex challenges of AI applications and close cooperation with companies is at the core of FCAI’s operations. In order to having sufficient resources, these types of things are key factors in attracting top talent, experts of the ministry write.

Further information
Samuel Kaski
Director, FCAI
Professor, Aalto University Department of Computer Science
Phone +358 50 305 8694