Tekes funds eight new FiDiPro Professors or Fellows

Tekes will finance eight international research projects forming part of the FiDiPro - Finland Distinguished Professor programme

The FiDiPro programme enables Finnish universities and research organisations to invite internationally distinguished researchers to work in joint research projects in Finland.

Tekes has decided to finance eight new international research projects within the FiDiPro - Finland Distinguished Professor programme. The FiDiPro professors and FiDiPro Fellows will work at Åbo Akademi, Aalto University, VTT and the universities of Jyväskylä, Oulu and Tampere.

For these research projects, Tekes is emphasising cooperation with businesses. FiDiPro researchers will make top expertise in their respective fields available to Finnish businesses.

"The new research projects will form a basis for the renewal of enterprises in topical key sectors including bioeconomy, digitalisation, health and wellbeing," says Kimmo Kanto, Director, Large Companies and Public Organisations, at Tekes.

The FiDiPro programme began in 2006 as a joint programme between Tekes and the Academy of Finland. Last year's evaluation of the programme results showed that the programme has been a key factor in the internationalisation of Finnish research. Close-knit research cooperation in FiDiPro-projects and the personal networks forged during them continued after the FiDiPro funding had come to an end.

Due to changes made in Tekes' research funding, no separate FiDiPro application round will be launched in 2016, but it will be possible to carry out FiDiPro type research projects via other Tekes calls for applications. More detailed information will be available later.

Further information on the FiDiPro programme:

FiDiPro research projects funded by Tekes in the 2015 call for applications:

FiDiPro Professor Peter James, Lund University, Department of Immunotechnology, Sweden

The Finnish host organization: Principal Investigator Eleanor Coffey, Åbo Akademi, Turku Centre for Biotechnology
Research project: Validation and Clinical Implementation of Parkinson's Disease and Breast Cancer Biomarkers for Diagnosis and Treatment Response Monitoring

The main aim is to improve diagnostics and disease stratification and treatment response monitoring in two main areas: Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. The focus is on early detection and characterisation of disease in a format that can be implemented in a standard clinical chemistry setting. The development of an early detection method for Parkinsonism is a pre-requisite for prevention of further degeneration. This will be of tremendous utility to both the doctors treating the patients and to the pharmaceutical industry to allow monitoring of treatment. The benefit to society on an economic level would be enormous and one could not put a price on the early treatment of a patient allowing a much longer period of disease free life.

The breast cancer diagnostics developed would allow patients a much better quality of life, allowing a rapid detection of non-response to chemotherapy allowing a change in treatment within weeks of instead of several months. Early detection would also save lives since response is much higher the earlier the stage of cancer. Finally the differential diagnosis of hormone status between the primary tumour and subsequent recurrences could significantly affect treatment choice and outcome.


FiDiPro Professor John Dempsey, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, USA

The Finnish host organization: Professor Jukka Tuhkuri, Aalto University, School of Engineering, Department of Applied Mechanics
Research project: Scaling of Ice Strength: Measurements and Modeling (ICESCALE)

Operations in the Northern seas keep on increasing and the aim of the Finnish industry is to actively participate in the operations. Model scale experiments are utilized in the design of Arctic ships and structures, but the fracture properties of the model ice are not known very well, if at all. This has a negative effect on the reliability of the model scale results. Fracture of the model ice used in the Aalto Ice Tank will be studied in ICESCALE. We will conduct a unique series of fracture experiments with the goal to improve fracture based physical modelling. To succeed in this challenge, we invite Professor John Dempsey from Clarkson University (USA) as a FiDiPro-professor. He is a most highly respected scientist in the field of sea ice fracture. He has exceptional experience in sea ice fracture experiments including several field campaigns in the Arctic and Antarctic. We will establish a research group at Aalto University with Assistant Professor Arttu Polojärvi (PI), Professor Jukka Tuhkuri, Professor Dempsey and a doctoral student. The project results will lead to more efficient and reliable design of ships and offshore structures and benefit

the Finnish marine industry as well as the state authorities. ICESCALE will also strengthen the international position and networks of the Aalto University Ice Technology group, including the MSc programme in Arctic technology.


FiDiPro Professor Kiyohiko Igarashi, Forest Chemistry Laboratory, Department of Biomaterial Sciences, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Japan

The Finnish host organization: Professor Merja Penttilä, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Solutions for natural resources and environment
Research project: Advanced approaches for enzymatic biomass utilisation and modification

Environmental concerns, the requirements for energy and carbon efficiency as well as the need to reduce dependency on fossil feed stocks lead to a necessity to develop new bio-based processes that support sustainable development and create novel possibilities to boost Bioeconomy. Lignocellulosic biomass mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin is a renewable, abundant non-food starting material for various applications. Cellulases and related enzymes have for decades attracted substantial interest in various industrial applications. Finland is still one of the world leaders in production of industrial enzymes, and Finland has also a strong industry in utilisation of biomass. The need to develop technologies enabling a sustainable bioeconomy has also been recognized to be of high importance in Finland and elsewhere in Europe, and biotechnology has been specified as one of the key enabling technologies for the future. Developing enzyme research in this area is therefore highly important.

In the past five years there has been an explosion in the amount of information available of new enzymes, that has also changed our views on lignocellulose degrading and modifying enzymes. Much of this new information arises from genomic sequencing programmes that provide a potential rich source of new biocatalysts for various applications. In order to be able to efficiently utilise the exponentially growing genomic data for various biomass related enzyme applications, more sophisticated and high throughput type of methods are required. Kiyohiko Igarashi’s visit to VTT within the FiDiPro project frame will allow us to address these issues.

This FiDiPro project will be carried out in collaboration with the Associate Professor Kiyohiko Igarashi, University of Tokyo and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Besides these two institutes, the project includes a collaboration network with University of Helsinki; Aalto University and University of Eastern Finland.


FiDiPro Professor Honglin Hu,Shanghai Research Center for Wireless Communications, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, China

The Finnish host organization: Research team leader Kyösti Rautiola, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Knowledge intensive products and services, Oulu
Research project: Energy and spectrum efficient cooperative communications for 5G mobile networks

The 5th generation (5G) mobile communication systems are expected to revolutionize everything seen so far in wireless systems. The requirements for 5G vary by application but will include data rates ranging from very low sensor data to very high video content delivery, stringent low latency requirements, low energy consumption, and high reliability. In this project, the focus is on developing energy and spectrum efficient algorithms for 5G, and testing them in 5G Test Network (5GTN) located at VTT. The topics of research are spectrum usage in 5G systems, D2D transmission, and uplink MIMO. The work is carried out in close co-operation with Shanghai Research Center for Wireless Communications (WiCO). During the project, professor Honglin Hu will visit VTT, and VTT research scientists will visit WiCO. The project results will be demonstrated using VTT’s 5G test network, and a joint demonstrartion with WiCO testbed is also given.


FiDiPro Professor Jiri Matas, Center for Machine Perception, Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic.

The Finnish host organization: Professor Joni Kämäräinen, Tampere University of Technology, Department of Signal Processing and Professor Janne Heikkilä, University of Oulu, CMV-JH
Research project: Pocket-Sized Big Visual Data

In recent years, the amount of visual data produced by private persons, companies and public sector has increased exponentially mainly due to breakthroughs in mobile imaging technologies and cloud services. Automatic processing and analysis of such data requires advanced computer vision methods and computationally efficient algorithms. The aim of this project is to develop computer vision based technology for mobile devices enabling new applications of big visual data. This is achieved by combining complementary knowledge and expertise of our academic partners (Tampere University of Technology, University of Oulu and Czech Technical University) and companies from three core business areas (imaging and vision, mobile devices and software, and big consumer data).  The project is expected to produce novel scientific results and technical solutions that create a basis for innovations and business opportunities in various areas of applications such as camera image processing, human action recognition and augmented reality.


FiDiPro Professor Martin Hagger, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

The Finnish host organization: Professor Taru Lintunen, University of Jyväskylä, The Department of Sport Sciences
Research project: Motivation: Theory- and Evidence-Based Interventions to Increase Physical Activity

Low levels of physical activity present a major risk for public health as it is associated with numerous chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and numerous cancers. Research shows that motivational factors are related to low physical activity and other health-risk behaviours. Even though the correlates of physical activity behaviour have been studied extensively nationally and internationally, interventions to promote physical activity have not been met with considerable long-term success and there is a paucity of data on effective interventions based on motivational theory to promote health-related physical activity. The objective of the present study is to develop new, innovative, motivational theory-based approaches to address the lack of knowledge of promotion of physical activity and measurement technology. The key aims of the project are to develop and test a psychological model of motivation, known as the Integrated Behaviour Change Model, and to conduct original empirical formative research that will test the key hypotheses derived from the model. In addition, an objective measure of physical activity behaviour using computer vision technology that will help evaluate the effectiveness of interventions will be developed. Another key element is on implementation of the motivational factors, mechanisms and processes into new technology and education solutions. Existing solutions emphasize measurement, competition and social pressure as elements of motivation and opt-out the other part of motivational factors. Aim is to develop evidence-based practice to enable the implementation of motivational factors into the new technology enhanced products and services as well as the interventions to be implemented in other applied settings (e.g., schools, workplaces, health care, and elderly care).


FiDiPro Professor Tatiana Budtova, Ecole Nationale Supérieur des Mines de Paris, France

The Finnish host organization: Professor Herbert Sixta, Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, The Department of Forest Products Technology
Research project: From ultra-light to ultra-strong all-cellulose composites via green processing (ALL-CELL)

ALL-CELL project is focused on the diversification of the applications of cellulose fibres and pulp by using the eco-design approach in preparing new materials, tuneable functional all-cellulose composites. The ALL-CELL idea is to use various types of cellulose fibres, from wood fibres, pulp and paper and textile waste to man-made cellulose fibres, for making new mechanically strong 100% bio-based functional materials. We shall use a new generation of “green” cellulose solvents which have cellulose high dissolution power. High-performance ultra-light and porous foams and aerogels will also be prepared from all-cellulose composites. The applications are sustainable packaging, furniture, heat- and sound insulation panels, as construction materials and as structural composites. The project will be performed in close collaboration between Aalto University, large Finnish pulp and paper companies and SMEs, ensuring continuous flow of knowledge transfer from academia to industry.


FiDiPro Fellow Stefanos Zafeiriou, Imperial College London, England

The Finnish host organization: Associate Professor Guoying Zhao, University of Oulu, CMV-MP
Research project: Facial Behaviour Analysis "in-the-wild"

Project aim to develop algorithms for machine analysis of facial behavior that are expected to work well for data recorded by a device as cheap as a web-cam and in almost arbitrary recording conditions. Specifically, aim is to develop a set of in-the-wild tools for (i) unconstrained deformable face tracking, (ii) automatic coding of facial action units in expressions and micro-expressions (FAUs, facial muscle actions responsible for producing facial expressions as defined in FACS and their intensities, (iii) continuous, dimensional interpretation of observed facial behavior (e.g. in terms of valence, arousal and liking), and (iv) robust spatiotemporal behavior similarity measurement (i.e., how similar are two behavioral recordings in space and time).

Eeva Landowski