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Tekes to fund seven new FiDiPro projects

Tekes is funding seven new international research projects within FiDiPro − the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme. Through this programme, top international researchers and new, high-level competence in sensor measurement, microfluidics, wireless body area networks, signal processing, water technology, brain imaging and manipulation of biomass will be brought to Finland.

The selected FiDiPro professors come from Canada, the UK, Sweden, Japan, Singapore and the USA. They will work at Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the University of Oulu and the University of Jyväskylä. Three of them will work as postdoctoral research fellows and four as FiDiPro professors.

Tekes encourages all actors to strive towards internationalisation and to work widely within the international research environment. The aim of the FiDiPro programme is to promote this international cooperation and bring new, state-of-the-art know-how to Finland.

“The FiDiPro projects currently selected provide excellent support for the ongoing programmes of the Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOK),” says Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara, Director General of Tekes.

The FiDiPro programme continues to arouse considerable interest, and numerous applications have been received. "In the future, top experts in Tekes' strategic focus areas such as development of business and service competence would be welcome in international cooperation within the FiDiPro programme," says Senior Technology Adviser Hanna Rantala, who is the FiDiPro programme manager.

Tekes has funded to date a total of 40 FiDiPro projects through which 30 FiDiPro professors and 10 FiDiPro fellows have come or are coming to Finland. There are projects, in particular, in the information and communications sector, as well as in biotechnology and materials technology research.

The FiDiPro − the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme is a joint funding programme of the Academy of Finland and Tekes, which provides Finnish universities and research institutes with the opportunity to recruit foreign or expatriate top researchers to work for a fixed period in Finland.

Further information
Hanna Rantala
Senior Technology Adviser
Tel. +358 10 60 55797

Kari Komulainen
Director, International Network
Tel. +358 10 60 55842

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Descriptions of the new FiDiPro projects

FiDiPro Professor Anita Lloyd Spetz,  Linköping University, Sweden
Research project: Combination of chemical sensors and packaging for new innovative sensor concepts
The proposed project aims at the development of portable sensors capable of detecting particle size, shape, composition and concentration of nanoparticles. Emphasis is laid upon study and implementation of novel sensor materials (mainly nanoparticles, nanowires and thin films) along with new innovative packaging solutions and experiments highlighting possible health effects by nanoparticles. Furthermore, the established novel gas and particle sensor technology is in excellent synergy with the strategies of the participating companies since it paves the road for creating business opportunities in several fields including nanoparticles production, sensors, packaging, gas purification and environmental monitoring.
Accordingly, the final result is not only a multifunctional sensor device but also a complete set of high-end technologies that enable an easy platform for future sensor development and manufacturing by the industrial partners. The innovation and established new technologies will to a large extent provide spin-off effects as well.
Contact person and host organisation: University of Oulu, Microelectronics and Materials Physics Laboratories, Professor Heli Jantunen

FiDiPro Professor Ryuji Kohno, Yokohama National University, Japan
Research project: Enabling Future Wireless Healthcare System
The use of wireless technologies has a lot of potential in finding new home-care related solutions,  as well as in improving efficiency in hospitals. Number of applications is monifold both in medical and healthcare, e.g., a possibility of monitoring parameters at home and hospital. Self-care, selfmanagement and cost effectiveness will be the key factors towards the development of these new technological solutions. One example of utilizing wireless technologies leads to distributed hospital concept, in which measurement done at home are sent automatically to healthcare units database, and doctors or nursing staff obtain alarms when necessary. Wireless body area networks (WBAN) have been seen as a future implementation scheme of measuring human physiological parameters. Small and low power sensors installed on-body, or even in-body, are connected to each other and out-of-body using energy efficient wireless communication technique. Wireless connection will allow patients to move around, but still allowing the controlling capability of the nursing staff. The developed system can be transferred from hospitals to home due to the well defined interfaces between the WBAN and the access point of backbone network. In the project, suitable transceivers and network solutions for WBANs are investigated starting form channel models
Contact person and host organisation: University of Oulu, Centre for Wireless Communications, Professor Jari Iinatti

FiDiPro Professor Klas Hjort, Uppsala University, Sweden.
Research project: Integrated microactuators in analysis and diagnostic microfluidic systems
The goal is to build a strong research capability and an R&D network on sampling and fluidic handling in microfluidic systems applied in environmental monitoring, biotechnology, and medical analyses and diagnostics. One objective is to develop novel silicon based nanolitre fluidic handling systems from the world-record strong thermohydraulic metal based microlitre actuator technology of Hjort et al. Thereon, the objectives are to expand this know-how into unique IPR in other systems and mechanisms, and forwarding it into application specific projects, thereby increasing the competitiveness of Finnish industry in diagnostics, biochemical analyses and industrial biomaterials.
Contact person and host organisation: VTT, Microtechnologies and sensors, Professor Jussi Tuovinen

Fidipro Professor Asoke K. Nandi, University of Liverpool, England
Research project: Machine Learning for Future Music and Learning Technologies
The core of the project will comprise necessary further theoretical developments in machine learning for signal processing with respects to feature selection, feature generation, clustering, detection, and classification. These will underpin the proposed study of functional magnetic resonance imaging and music information retrieval. This will include its own developments in theoretical issues, experimental procedures (including the introduction of ecologically valid music stimuli and dual mode (EEG and fMRI) data collection), and signal processing, as well as help create understanding and global business opportunities. The cooperation partner in the research is the Academy of Finland’s "Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research”. Finally, results arising from theoretical researches will also underpin the proposed study of pronunciation of written words in English. Successful development of such a scheme will offer a teaching aid to help children enormously, resulting in significant social benefit in nurturing content and confident children. It will generally help all children, in particular all Finnish children, to become confident English speakers which will be of incalculable benefit to Finland, given the position of English as an international language. Also a successful development of such a scheme can bring enormous financial benefits to companies who can make a business out of this for the whole world, and not just Finland. Finally, a comparable solution for other alphabetic languages than English is likely to be less demanding and forthcoming. Indeed, there will be enormous business opportunities in the provision of learning a non-mother-tongue language.
Contact person and host organisation: University of Jyväskylä, Department of Mathematical Information Technology, Professor Tapani Ristaniemi

FiDiPro Fellow Koen Van Leemput, Harvard University, USA
Dr. Van Leemput is an expert in computational neuroimaging and has many years of experience in pluridisciplinary work with clinicians, computer scientists, engineers and physicists, and a very strong background in advanced software development for medical image analysis.
Research project: Computational analysis of brain images: towards a useful tool in clinical practice
Brain diseases account for 35% of the overall disease burden in Europe, and their cost to society is expected to increase considerably due to aging of the European population. Since therapies for brain diseases are becoming increasingly available, there is an urgent need for quantitative diagnosis,  treatment planning, and progress monitoring tools, as these will allow  patients to receive the most effective treatment starting from the earliest stages of their disease.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a routine clinical procedure that yields detailed three-dimensional images of the body's soft tissues, making it an ideal candidate for detecting and assessing brain disease in an accurate and quantitative fashion. At present, however, no computational tools exist that can analyze clinically acquired brain MRI scans automatically, forcing  clinicians to merely eyeball two-dimensional projections visually, or painstakingly delineate structures of interest using manual interaction.
Computational tools for analyzing the type of MRI scans used in basic neuroscientific studies have seen tremendous advances in recent years, but  these techniques are fundamentally inept at analyzing MRI scans acquired in routine clinical practice. The aim of this ambitious project is to develop  sophisticated computational modeling approaches and tools to enlarge the scope of quantitative brain MRI analysis from mere scientific studies of the human brain into real-world clinical applications.
Contact person and host organisation: Aalto University, Department of Information and Computer Science, Professor Erkki Oja

Fidipro Fellow Chuyang Y. Tang, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Research project: The general objective of the proposed FiDiPro-project is to create prerequisites for building up, and developing the technologies and knowledge on membrane mediated desalination and water reuse. One of the objectives is to create a viable technology transfer platform, where the frontline knowhow on water technologies will be transferred from Singapore to Finland.
Contact person and host organisation: VTT, Strategic research, Professor Anne-Christine Ritschkoff

FiDiPro Fellow Emma Master, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
University of Toronto, Canada
Research project: Enzymatic modification of plant fibres
The objective of this project is to create high-value and renewable materials from agricultural and forest fibre.  By building composite materials that exploit the strength properties of cellulose micro fibrils and reactivity of xylan polymers, our research can generate new market opportunities for both forest and agricultural industries.
Contact person and host organisation: Aalto University, Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology, Professor Matti Leisola



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Tekes to fund seven new FiDiPro projects

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