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Academy of Finland grants funding for research on sustainable and energy-efficient ICT solutions

Published on 17.11.2022
Tampere University
The Academy of Finland has granted funding to ten projects researching the sustainability and energy efficiency of future ICT solutions. Tampere University is involved in five projects that received funding. A consortium led by Tampere University also received funding in the CHIST-ERA call for the Finnish partners of ICT projects that have succeeded in joint international funding calls.

The total funding granted under the research, development and innovation programme ICT 2023 is € 6.85 million.  The call for applications was open in spring 2022, and the success rate was 27%.

Energy efficiency was an ICT 2023 call theme also in 2017. The research projects funded through that call have already produced results which can be applied to practical solutions.

Biodegradable electronics

The project of Professor of Electronics Matti Mäntysalo (Tampere University, ITC) and Senior Scientist Jaakko Leppäniemi (Technology Research Centre VTT Oy) focuses on biodegradable electronics. The project will utilise plant-based materials, or materials that act as plant-nutrients, to develop high-frequency components and electronic circuits needed in sensor tags that are capable of wireless communication.

The printing technologies used in the project will facilitate material savings. Energy-saving fabrication processes will be developed by using low-temperature film deposition methods. The circuits developed on biodegradable substrates will find use in environmental monitoring, for example, in agricultural applications.

The project is called Sustainable organics and metal oxide ICT via biodegradable, high-performance flexible low-voltage electronics.

Biomaterial-based photonics and optoelectronics

Associate Professor Nonappa Nonappa (ENS) is a partner in the Bio-Base consortium led by Professor Zhipei Sun from Aalto University. The consortium develops biomaterials-based photonics and optoelectronics for sustainable ICT systems.

Photonics is widely used in our everyday lives and industry where it significantly protects our well-being, health, environment, and resources.

This project aims to develop sustainable and renewable biomaterials (mainly cellulose- and nano-cellulose) based photonic devices for sustainable ICT solutions, such as imaging, communication, and sensing.

Energy efficient machine perception

Associate Professor of Computer Vision Esa Rahtu (ITC) is a partner in the EfficientPerception consortium led by Associate Professor Juho Kannala from Aalto University. The project is called Energy efficient machine perception.

The project focuses on advancing computational approaches that are essential for energy efficient machine perception in the autonomous machines of the future. These advances are needed to allow computer vision and artificial intelligence to fulfil the expectations of transforming ICT industry to become more efficient and sustainable in the long run.

There are already much research and development efforts for the electrification of vehicles and working machines, which have traditionally been powered by fossil fuels. There is simultaneously a related trend of increasing the level of autonomy with better performing sensors, perception systems and actuators. Together, these two trends of electrification and increasing autonomy can be mutually beneficial and help create machines that are both safer and more efficient than the current ones in terms of energy, costs, and raw materials.

Machine learning algorithms for 5G and 6G networks

Professor of Wireless Communication Evgeny Kucheryavy (ITC) develops machine learning algorithms for energy efficient and QoS aware communications in heterogeneous 6G mmWave/sub-THz networks.

The deployment of 5G New Radio in the millimetre wave (mmWave, 28-100 GHz) band is hampered by highly unreliable connectivity and poor energy efficiency, which violates the IMT-2020 requirements. Even though 5G systems are not yet fully deployed, 3GPP is already starting to standardise 6G systems operating in the sub-THz band (100-300 GHz), which will be similarly affected.

The study will develop models, methodologies, and practical algorithms to simultaneously improve energy efficiency and user performance at the radio interface level in 5G/6G networks operating in mmWave and sub-Thz bands.

The successful completion of the project will accelerate the deployment of mmWave 5G NR systems and the standardisation of future mmWave/sub-THz 6G systems, as well as improve the durability, energy efficiency and recyclability of user equipment by extending battery life.

AI-based hardware accelerators

Associate Professor of Hardware Technology Pekka Jääskeläinen ITC) is involved in the ADEREHA consortium of Associate Professor Joni Pajarinen (Aalto University) that aims to design energy- and resource-efficient hardware accelerators.

Hardware accelerators can significantly improve the energy efficiency of tasks such as AI, network processing, physics simulation, or cryptography. However, with the high pace in algorithm development, the existing fixed function accelerators quickly become chip waste.

The project aims to avoid chip waste and automate the generation of reusable programmable hardware accelerators using reinforcement learning methods.  The methods automatically find a valid low-cost accelerator design with the desired properties. The methods start from high-level program descriptions and generate complete compiler programmable accelerators with the desired qualities, such as optimized energy-efficiency.

The study is enabled by combining the chip design knowledge of the Customised Parallel Computing research group at Tampere University with reinforcement learning and algorithm development knowledge of the Robot Learning research group at Aalto University.

Three projects received funding from the CHIST-ERA call

The ICT 2023 programme, jointly implemented by the Academy of Finland and Business Finland, also grants funding to the Finnish partners of successful ICT projects that have received international funding. The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering at the Academy has therefore awarded a total of €1.15 million in funding to three projects in the 2021 ERA-NET CHIST-ERA call. The projects have partners in Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Professor of Experimental Optics and Photonics Humeyra Caglayan (Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Tampere University) heads a CHIST-ERA consortium that studies novel technologies which enhance the capacity of communication networks.

The project will develop a breakthrough miniaturised emitter suitable for power-efficient operation, adaptive modulation, and massive production at low cost. The emitter will serve as an enabling factor for the next generation of smart free-space optical communication and light-fidelity (LiFi) networks.

ICT 2023 is a ten-year programme aimed at strengthening high-quality ICT research, enabling the development of products, services, and innovations. To date, the Academy of Finland has organised almost twenty ICT 2023 funding calls, which have granted some €10 million in research funding annually. The funded projects have dealt with topics such as artificial intelligence, ICT technologies for the digital transformation of industry, and user-centred health technology. The last calls for applications under the programme will be opened in 2023.

Academy of Finland’s press release 15 November 2022

Photograph: Jonne Renvall