Key research areas

Aalto University has seven key research areas which particularly relate to promoting and maintaining Finnish competitiveness and welfare through renewal and entrepreneurship.

Key research areas

The cornerstones of Aalto University research are four fundamental competence areas:

1. ICT and digitalisation
2. Materials and sustainable use of natural resources
3. Art and design knowledge building
4. Global business dynamics.

In addition to these areas, the university invests in three integrative multidisciplinary themes that focus on solving challenges that are important globally and for the Finnish economy.

5. Advanced energy solutions
6. Human-centred living environments
7. Health and wellbeing.



Aalto University's seven key research areas consist of four fundamental competence areas and three integrative multidisciplinary themes.

The key research areas particularly relate to promoting and maintaining Finnish competitiveness and welfare through renewal and entrepreneurship. They define university's academic profile by guiding its tenure track allocations, major university-level research initiatives, infrastructure investments, educational activities, and other investments.


1. ICT and digitalization

Aalto University represents 25–35% of the scientific publications and university education in the field of ICT and digitalization in Finland. This forms the foundation for Aalto University to spearhead Finland’s drive towards digitizing many aspects of society – from new consumer services to media, entertainment, education, health care, retail, and several areas of industry.

ICT and digitalization research relates to both theory and practice, computational and mathematical sciences, software and hardware technologies, secure communications, digital media, digital services, and digital engineering and management across technologies and industrial sectors. This combination provides an excellent launch pad for interdisciplinary innovations. For instance, digitalization and social media are topics which may only be profoundly understood via multidisciplinary viewpoints combining arts, business, science and technology.

2. Materials and sustainable use of natural resources

Aalto University’s expertise in the area of materials covers a wide range of fields: from condensed-matter and materials physics, nanoscience and nanotechnology, mechanics and materials to the sustainable use and processing of natural resources.

Aalto University’s materials research contributes to diverse applications in ICT, energy and health technologies, textile design for fashion industry, and many other areas of industry. The innovations based on materials research provide great opportunities for Finnish and international businesses.

3. Art and design knowledge building

Knowledge building activities in art and design at Aalto University can be characterized by a quest for a human approach in any topic. In this way, the university bridges different areas, such as art, technology and business.

The cultural approach taken by Aalto University focuses on experiences and on sensory and hands-on skills and knowledge. The aim, here, is to find new ways of solving supposedly impossible problems, to contribute to the wellbeing of people, and to have a positive impact on wider society.

At Aalto University, artistic and design activities are closely linked to the research carried out in the technical fields: many of our art-based researchers do not focus on new technologies or their development, but rather on the use of technologies within art and other socio-cultural contexts. In addition,  art and design knowledge building activities include technology-based actions related to systems design and sustainable development.

4. Global business dynamics

Research carried out at the university addresses a range of issues related to the dynamics of a global economy. Cutting edge research is carried out in the areas of business, economics, and industrial engineering and management. Much of the work is done in close collaboration with Finnish industry.

Aalto University’s research contributes significantly to the competitiveness and renewal of Finnish industry and serves to help policy decision making.

5.  Advanced energy solutions

Energy-related research is widely carried out at Aalto University. The main research focuses are energy sciences, multidisciplinary energy technologies and energy and the environment.

The research in these fields includes advanced and renewable energy technologies; efficient, eco-friendly and reliable energy production systems, distribution and use; as well as monitoring and understanding our environment.

The results of energy-related research contribute to Finland’s energy policy and have global outreach through sustainable energy solutions and a wide range of energy innovations and applications.

6. Human-centered living environments

Aalto University is developing interdisciplinary research to enhance the planning, design, and testing of better living environments. The goal is to better understand how individuals experience their physical environment and how art, spaces, buildings, and communities can enhance this experience.

The challenges of urbanization, efficient use of resources, the aging population, and multiculturalism, as well as the opportunities offered by digitalization, business services and the experience of nature, are all included in this multi-dimensional research.

The results of the research provide useful knowledge for societal development.

7. Health and wellbeing

Aalto University’s health and wellbeing research mostly focuses on neuroscience and -technology, functional magnetic imaging, biomedical engineering, bioinformatics and computational medicine, as well as on health and wellbeing technologies and management.

A large share of research in this area is done in close collaboration with the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital. Their expertise in medical science and clinical research complements Aalto University’s primarily technology-oriented approach.

Health and wellbeing is an area where a great number of innovations are called for. At Aalto University, basic research results are developed into innovations, applications, and services for end users. In this way, research is responding to societal needs. The university also aims to be a contributor in the massive renewal process facing the university hospital district of Helsinki region during the next decade.

Page content by: | Last updated: 17.01.2018.