🇫🇮 New Finnish Flagship secures water resources with digital twins

October 24, 2023
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Press release from University of Oulu

Four new Flagships have been selected to the Research Council of Finland’s Finnish Flagship Programme, one of which is Digital Waters coordinated by the University of Oulu. Flagship Programme supports high-quality research and increases the economic and societal impact emerging from the research.

The Digital Waters flagship aims to become a leading research and innovation ecosystem in the water sector, using research to support decision-making and pave the way for the next revolution in water sector – digitally.

“Solutions driven by the Digital Waters flagship are urgently needed, because water is a critical natural resource which is difficult to manage and where digital solutions are rapidly needed,” says Professor Björn Klöve, Director of the flagship at the University of Oulu.

The water sector has a multi-billion business potential worldwide, which is expected to grow rapidly. Climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and water scarcity require additional investments that increase the value of water. The flagship partnership creates new opportunities for companies to develop products to address major societal challenges.

The Digital Waters partnership will enable digital modelling of entire water systems – the digital twins of water systems. This is challenging because real-time data on climate, soils and water systems are needed over hundreds of kilometres and across different countries. Digital twins can be used to model water resources, their use and assess the impact of decision-making on surface and groundwater.

The digitalisation of water resources will improve the management and security of water systems, distribution and use, for example in the event of flooding or drought. Digital water management also helps to balance the objectives of industry, energy, agriculture and forestry in a sustainable way. ”The Digital Waters flagship will bridge the knowledge gap on the water cycle by bringing together scattered national research on a “source to sea” basis, in other words on a catchment basis. By combining measurement data on climate, land and water through digital innovation, we support sustainable solutions to avoid the serious consequences of global changes on water cycles, the environment and socio-economic systems,” says Klöve.

The Digital Waters flagship partnership, led by the University of Oulu, will initially involve 276 partners. In addition to the University of Turku, Aalto University, the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, the Finnish Environment Institute and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the partners include Finnish research infrastructures, international research organisations, nearly 200 companies, public bodies and NGOs.

Björn Klöve
In the picture Professor Björn Klöve, director of the Digital Waters flagship.

“The Digital Waters flagship is a perfect fit for the University of Oulu, which is located near the large water systems of the North. Our cutting-edge research and the knowledge of our partners contribute to the protection of water resources worldwide through our extensive international cooperation. The flagship decision reinforces the University of Oulu’s position as a leading research environment for hydrology and water engineering”, says Research Vice Rector for Research Taina Pihlajaniemi.

University of Oulu researchers are partners in FAME and Quantum

From the University of Oulu, Professor Miika Nieminen, Academy Research Fellow Andreas Hauptmann ja Assistant Professor Teemu Tyni are partners in the Flagship of Advanced Mathematics for Sensing, Imaging and Modelling, FAME. Coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland, the multidisciplinary consortium develops methods of applied mathematics and physics for the benefit of society, including medical imaging, industrial process monitoring, non-destructive structural testing and satellite data analysis. In Oulu, a close collaborator is the Oulu University Hospital OYS.

The FAME Flagship is built on cutting-edge research in inverse problems, and it works in close collaboration with industrial and societal partners. The Flagship is led by Professor Tanja Tarvainen, University of Eastern Finland, and it brings together partners from seven Finnish universities and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Senior Research Fellow Matti Silveri from the University of Oulu is partnering with The Finnish Quantum Flagship (FQF), coordinated by Aalto University. The Flagship brings together leading quantum experts in physics, computational science, mathematics, nano science and technology, and economics, to consolidate and expand the national ecosystem. The aim is to promote cutting-edge research that boosts the emergence of new businesses and secure Finland’s position as a leading quantum-enabled society.

The flagship will merge cutting edge research in quantum materials, devices, and information, with leading expertise in applications, technology transfer, and market sociology. Quantum technology is anticipated to revolutionize many areas of science, engineering, and industry from the clean production of energy to drug design. The FQF flagship is led by Professor Peter Liljeroth of Aalto University, and the partners are VTT, CSC and four other Finnish universities.

The Research Council of Finland’s Flagship Programme creates future expertise and sustainable solutions to society’s challenges. The Finnish Flagships represent an effective mix of close cooperation with business and society, adaptability and a strong commitment from host organisations.

Ten competence clusters have previously been selected for the Flagship Programme. The 6G flagship project coordinated by the University of Oulu has been operating since 2018. In addition, the university is currently involved in the flagship of biological drugs.

This is the fourth time that the Research Council of Finland has selected Flagships to the Finnish Flagship Programme. Applications are evaluated by an international panel of experts. Applicants were expected to have strong international research competence and to be pioneers in their field, and to have a wide range of research impact in different areas of society.

The Research Council of Finland will fund four new flagships in total with almost 90 million euros in two four-year periods. Exact decisions on the distribution of the amount are expected by January. Background organizations and partners also contribute significantly to the funding of research entities.

Read more

Research Council of Finland selects four new Finnish Flagships

Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering research unit

The Finnish Freshwater Competence Centre to boost science, education and business with key technologies

UEF to lead the new Flagship of Advanced Mathematics for Sensing, Imaging and Modelling

Aalto University to coordinate Finnish quantum initiatives in latest national flagship programme


Originally published on 24 October.