Collaboration

Tampere University joins forces with industry to drive the digital evolution of physical infrastructure

Tampere University has established a new five-year professorship funded by industry to accelerate the digital transformation of our physical infrastructure. Kalle Vaismaa, who took up the professorship in early February, has long-standing experience of working in both academia and industry.

The digitalisation of the infrastructure sector is already well underway, for example, in the areas of data modelling and the management of construction sites. However, digitalisation also raises important questions about the necessity to adjust the old ways of working and develop new ones. The ecosystem surrounding our physical infrastructure, such as transportation networks and municipal facilities, is undergoing a transformation and the importance of data is growing. With processes changing rapidly, we are seeing the emergence of new collaboration models and ecosystems.

To maintain their competitiveness amidst digital disruption, a range of companies that design and construct physical infrastructures and develop related software have established a broad collaborative partnership to fund the creation of a new five-year professorship at Tampere University. The goal is to propel the industry in Finland to the highest level of digitalisation. The new professorship is also hoped to open up new business opportunities in Finland and abroad.

“Albeit a traditional industry, the infrastructure sector will not be able to elude the wave of digitalisation that reshapes the role of established companies and creates opportunities for new businesses. We need to take steps now to stay on the cutting edge, improve our efficiency, strengthen our future prospects and maintain our ability to create added value to society,” says Senior Vice President (Paving, strategy) Vesa Pirinen of YIT Oyj.

Tampere a strong hub of research expertise

Tampere University already enjoys a strong reputation for excellence, for example, in infrastructure construction, information and knowledge management and the development of digital applications.   

“I will join the Earth, Foundation and Track Structures Research Group. Our research interests focus on improving the efficiency of infrastructures throughout their life cycle. The group develops new planning, repair and material technology solutions,” says Professor Kalle Vaismaa.

“During my five-year appointment, I will be working to drive forward the digital transformation of our physical infrastructure. Not only people’s professional competencies but also tools and processes will have to be developed to achieve the goals.” 

Vaismaa has extensive experience of developing new technology-related business opportunities for the service industry, as he has previously worked, among other things, at the Transport Research Centre Verne of Tampere University and WSP Finland Oy, where he headed projects that were closely connected to digitalisation.

“It is important to get all the key stakeholders on board. We place a high priority on collaboration with different national and international interest groups”, describes Vaismaa.

External funding agencies take part in steering the direction of the research group’s activities and setting goals. The objective is for an extensive project portfolio and a new research group to be formed around the new professorship. Funding for research projects will be actively sought from both industry and public funding agencies. Pilot projects will be an essential part of the development projects and the process of putting research findings into practice.

The new professorship is funded by A-Insinöörit Civil Oy, CivilPoint Oy, Destia Oy, FCG Finnish Consulting Group Oy, GRK Infra Oy, NRC Group Finland Oy, Pöyry Finland Oy,  Ramboll Finland Oy, Roadscanners Oy, Sitowise Oy, Sweco Finland Oy, Trimble Solutions Oy, Wihuri Oy SITECH Finland and YIT Suomi Oy.

Inquiries:
Professor Kalle Vaismaa, Tampere University, tel. +358 400 567 283, kalle.vaismaa@tuni.fi
Professor Pauli Kolisoja, Tampere University, tel. +358 40 5851025, pauli.kolisoja@tuni.fi
Director, DTech Heikki Jämsä, Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT, Infra Contractors Association in Finland, tel. +358 50 5872 911, heikki.jamsa@infra.fi

Photo: Jonne Renvall