Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT was established in 1999 as a joint research institute of Aalto University and the University of Helsinki. According to the Regulations of HIIT, its mission is to carry out basic and strategic research in information technology meeting international standards of excellence in the field of information technology. This is achieved through close cooperation with the information technology industry and public organisations and with scientists applying information technology. HIIT also supports research-based education in cooperation with the departments of the partner universities.

The objective of HIIT is to enhance the quality, visibility and impact of Finnish research on information technology and to facilitate more intensive cooperation with the information technology industry and public organisations in Finland and with the key international research networks, institutes and universities in this field. HIIT aims to boost the competitiveness of the Finnish information technology industry and information society in the long term by linking top-level scientific research with the long-term, high-risk research and development performed by the information technology industry, and by contributing to the development of the information society.

To reach the ambitious objectives of HIIT and produce added value to the host universities, HIIT aims to combine top ICT research of the universities into a positive collaborating critical mass that supports an internationally strong joint “Helsinki ICT” brand, so that the capital area will be recognised as one of the leading ICT hubs in Europe. HIIT also works as a collaboration platform that links top ICT research to other sciences, to companies, and to other areas of the society. HIIT is currently led by Professor Petri Myllymäki, who started his 5-year term as the Director of HIIT in August 2015. The vice directors of HIIT in 2018 were Patrik Floréen (UH), Juho Rousu (Aalto, until April 1, 2018) and Kai Puolamäki (Aalto, after April 1).

The main instruments of HIIT are ambitious research programmes that bring together several research groups with different expertise. The research programmes of HIIT

  • are scientifically top-level (the Academy of Finland Centers of Excellence are a good yardstick for the scientific ambition level),
  • have high scientific and societal impact potential,
  • support HIIT’s “Helsinki ICT” mission and objectives described above,
  • demonstrate clear added value and support the strategies of the host universities,
  • are challenge-oriented/thematic/goal-driven with research objectives shared by the participating research teams,
  • are cross-cutting/interdisciplinary/collaborative so that the overall composition of teams supports the research objectives, and
  • are fixed-term, ensuring dynamicity and renewal of HIIT.

In 2018 HIIT maintained six research programmes: COIN, FCHealth and HAIC-R with their operational term continuing until July 31, 2021, the AR programme with the operational term continuing until the end of 2018, and HiDATA and FCAI with their operational term continuing until March 31, 2022. More information about the research programmes can be found here.

In addition to supporting the research programmes, HIIT is coordinating a lot of activities that support the Helsinki ICT community as a whole: HIIT coordinates the joint Helsinki Doctoral Education Network in ICT (HICT) working across department, school and university borders, HIIT organises joint “Helsinki ICT” recruitments on many levels (postdocs, Fellows, doctoral students), and participates actively in branding, networking and outreaching activities related to ICT (e.g. the Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series on Future IT and the weekly high-level research seminar in machine learning). Other examples of HIIT-supported activities can be found here.

The operations of HIIT are guided and overseen by the Board of HIIT which is appointed by the rectors of the host universities for an operational term of 4 years. The operational term of the previous Board of HIIT ended in March 2018, and the new Board, appointed by the rectors, convened the first time on June 1st, 2018. In September 2018, Kai Nordlund, who was appointed the Dean of the Faculty of Science, replaced Paula Eerola as the Vice-Chair of the Board. The current constellation of the Board can be seen here, and its operational term continues until 31.03.2022. I wish to thank all the past members of the HIIT Board once more for their invaluable contributions during their term!

Petri Myllymäki
Director of HIIT