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Network of AI researchers strengthens cooperation between higher education and industry


Janne Kauttonen

senior researcher
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Nora Lappalainen

project specialist
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Rebekah Rousi

associate professor of communication and digital economy, University of Vaasa
senior researcher at the University of Jyväskylä

Published : 20.11.2023

AI Forum is an interdisciplinary cooperation network of five Finnish higher education organizations. The project aimed at strengthening expertise, education, and research cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). We worked to increase collaboration between academia and industry. While the official 36-month run of the project was concluded in June of 2023, the collaboration continues with ongoing research efforts, new projects, and ideas.

At the final seminar, researchers and business experts gathered together to share their perspectives on what was accomplished and learned during the AI Forum project. The driving question behind all project activities is, why cooperation within universities and between universities and industry is important and what are the benefits.

Lessons learned

After 36 months, there are numerous accomplishments and lessons learned by the partners during the project.

Knowledge in how AI has fundamentally changed the ways that industry operates

AI enables real-time data analysis and decision-making, significantly boosting efficiency across sectors. AI-driven automation leads to cost reductions and higher productivity in manufacturing and service industries.

Discovering gaps in expertise

Identified expertise gaps help target educational and training needs, and to adapt programs to meet the evolving demands of AI applications. This drives collaboration between academia and industry, and to fill the gaps with informed, practical solutions.

Importance of research freedom

Research freedom fosters innovation by allowing exploration into uncharted domains of AI. It also encourages a multidisciplinary approach, which is vital for solving complex, real-world problems.

Benefits of rotating researchers between projects – leveraging synergy benefits

Rotating researchers infuses fresh perspectives and diversified expertise into projects, enhancing problem-solving capabilities. It fosters a collaborative environment, promoting knowledge transfer and cross-disciplinary learning.

These lessons underline the essence of collaborative synergy and innovative freedom in propelling the AI field forward. This reflects the journey of this project and resonates with the broader trajectory of the field of AI research, embodying a collective endeavor towards realizing the full transformative potential of AI.

On the research side, we highlight the importance of publishing data as often as possible to promote open science and promoting diversity of researchers coming from different disciplines and backgrounds. While it is important to maintain scientific excellence and ambition, it is also vital that humanity is not dropped in the process.

Calls for action

The project network pinpointed three calls for action for education, healthcare, and business sector. These are the areas where AI Forum partners focus in the course of our work.

  1. Educational technology: Large Language Models and similar technology is becoming a permanent part of education. Universities need to adapt to change.
  2. Healthcare: AI is enhancing patient care through conversational tools and personalized care based on integrated data sources. Healthcare organizations should look for increased adoption.
  3. Business: AI democratization, generative AI, ethical and explainable models, and sustainable AI practices are transforming business operations. Businesses need to respond.

Next in AI research

In the seminar, the project partners together with industry panelists summarized what is next in AI research. All agreed that the current progress of AI is breath-taking with new discoveries and AI models appearing on a weekly basis. The following particular topics were pinpointed to guide the AI field in coming years: hybrid intelligence, transparency and trustworthiness, personalisation, generative AI, synthesized data, AI Sandbox, and emphasis on governance, regulation, and auditing of AI.

AI Forum
Consortium: Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, University of Oulu, University of Jyväskylä, and Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Funding: Ministry of Education and Culture
Duration: 1 January 2021 – 30 June 2023

Editing: Marianne Wegmüller

Picture: Shutterstock