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Transform is growing a centre of welfare expertise at Tampere University

Published on 7.3.2022
Tampere University
Transformissa työskentelevät Matias Heikkilä, Ulriika Leponiemi ja Samuli PekkolaMatias Heikkilä (left), Ulriika Leponiemi and Samuli Pekkola are working at Transform. The name Transform comes from the words Towards Effective and Equitable Welfare Services: Translating Scientific Knowledge into Improved Practices and Outcomes.
If ministries, health authorities or the EU are looking for a welfare researcher from Tampere University, whom should they contact? The new Transform research platform aims to provide a “one-stop shop” for such contacts. In the shop are the University’s researchers who study welfare from different scientific perspectives and collaborate to analyse problems from multidisciplinary points of view. Transform also shares scientific knowledge by training people who work in the welfare field.

 

Transform aims to support research projects that investigate welfare services and their effectiveness and equitableness.

The key themes of the research platform are to understand the ambiguity of the concept of effectiveness, evaluating and developing welfare services, understanding the different mechanisms of effectiveness, analysing, and developing the welfare system and spreading effectiveness-based knowledge.

Putting research knowledge into practice through training

The research platform connects the faculties of Social Sciences, Management and Business, and Medicine and Health Technology at Tampere University as well as several research groups from different disciplines.

“The central mission of Transform is the University’s third mission of social impact,” says Director Samuli Pekkola, a professor of information management.

“In practice, this means organising seminars and training events for different stakeholders to highlight Tampere University’s research results and how our results and research methods can help public organisations and companies. On the other, this also requires the training of researchers from different disciplines and the sharing of common concepts, methods, and experiences,” Pekkola adds.

The research needs of the Kauppi social welfare and health research centre will be mapped first

Transform’s second mission is research. It collaborates with the public, private and third sectors.

One of Transform’s first activities will be to survey the organisational expectations and concerns of key people who are working to establish the social welfare and health research centre (Kylse) that will be set up on the University’s Kauppi campus.

“Once we have identified areas needing development, we will share them with Transform’s researchers. They, in turn, will develop solutions together with Kylse’s stakeholders based on their own research,” says Pekkola.

In this way, research projects can begin to be developed, leveraged by the Research Services of the universities community.

According to Pekkola, similar surveys are also being carried out in other organisations whose research needs Transform is beginning to identify.

Closer cooperation between researchers

For researchers in different disciplines, Transform offers an opportunity to discuss and share information about the perspectives, methods, and concepts of research and the ways they are defined in different disciplines.

Pekkola thinks that, on the one hand, it will be fun for people from different disciplines to talk, because they can learn from each other. On the other, discussion is difficult because different disciplines do not share the same terminology and approaches.

Where one discipline’s perspective on a particular problem may sometimes be too narrow, Transform’s researchers can take a multidisciplinary approach and develop a broader solution.

“Researchers can join Transform by simply expressing their interest,” Pekkola says.

Transform will bring together information on what each welfare researcher is doing at the University. For instance, when Research Services is informed about open EU calls, they can find suitable researchers for the projects.

Transform raises the profile of the University’s expertise

“Tampere University is already a major national influencer in welfare services,” says Pekkola, noting that the University’s researchers appear, for example, as experts in televised current affairs programmes several times a week.

“Through Transform, our weight is further increased because we have a larger group of people who understand the complexity and multidimensionality of welfare and have a shared understanding of who is in the know and from what perspectives researchers are approaching their research topics,” Pekkola adds.

Tampere University is funding Transform for a four-year period that will end on 31 July 2025.

Photo: Jonne Renvall