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Government analysis, assessment and research activities
Policy Brief: Finland should focus its AI competence development in areas where it’s strong

Government Communications Department
Publication date 14.2.2019 12.28
News item 89/2019

A report commissioned by the Finnish Government recommends creating an AI competence development strategy with a focus on nationally significant areas and existing strengths. The report was drawn up by experts from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Aalto University, ETLA Research Institute of the Finnish Economy and Silo.AI.

The newly published policy brief gives an overview of Finnish AI competences in research and higher education, as well as in the private and public sectors. The field of AI has been divided into ten sub-areas for closer inspection in order to get a clear picture of the whole field. Example sub-areas include data analysis, machine learning and robotics.

In relation to its size, Finland is strong in AI competences. For example, when comparing the quality of research publications, Finland is considered the strongest of the Nordic countries in four out of the ten sub-areas. When it comes to the number of publications, Finland is second only to Sweden among the Nordic countries. Various sub-areas of AI are being taught in eleven universities and six universities of applied sciences, with the total number of courses reaching 250. Similarly, AI competence in the private and public sectors is also comparatively good.

Understanding the AI field will help Finland in choosing the right focus areas

The team behind the policy brief urges Finland to focus its AI research and competence development in areas where we are already strong and which have national significance. The areas where Finland is strong have been identified in the policy brief, whereas the areas of national significance need to be considered separately. In general, Finland should not compete in the mainstream areas where China and the US are already prominent, such as customer data analytics.

There is heightened interest in AI education at the moment. The policy brief suggests that AI courses offered by higher education institutions should be made available to all those interested. The popularity of the open web course, Elements of AI, offered by Reaktor and the University of Helsinki proves that there is a lot of interest in learning about AI. “This interest should be met and we should offer both traditional courses and MOOC courses in AI”, says Research Professor Heikki Ailisto of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Policy Brief: Finnish AI competences and how to make them stronger

Tekoälyn kokonaiskuva ja osaamiskartoitus -raportti (in Finnish) 

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Research Professor Heikki Ailisto, head of the project
tel. +358 40 555 0726

Ministry of Defence
Research Director, Professor Pekka Appelqvist, chair of the steering committee
tel. +358 295 160 360