2.2 Research, development, and innovation activities and artistic activities with impact

Auditeringsgruppens bedömning

A new RDI development programme gives structure to development work

VAMK is committed to an ambitious increase in RDI volume and the impact of its RDI on the region. VAMK’s financial situation has improved, and after a few tough years, it is now possible to allocate more human resources to RDI. In the interviews, the biggest opportunities were seen in connecting VAMK’s RDI work and especially the new interdisciplinary platforms even more steadfastly to the RDI programmes of the big RDI intensive companies of the region. In addition, opportunities related to stronger multidisciplinary RDI were brought up, such as a combination of health and technology to support the implementation of the national social and health care reform in the bilingual region together with VAMK’s partner organisations.

VAMK is aware of the challenges it must overcome to reach its goals regarding RDI. Its brand new RDI development programme includes a comprehensive analysis of the current situation and clear actions for development. One of the challenges brought up in the interviews is how to free up permanent staff’s time for RDI when finding qualified part-time staff is difficult.  VAMK could seek alternative solutions to this, such as agreeing to have part-time teachers from its working-life partners or doing joint planning and implementation of teaching with other higher education institutions that teach the same fields.

In the interviews it became obvious that there are great expectations for the new interdisciplinary interworking platforms. The Design Centre MUOVA has long-term experience of a systematic approach to RDI & services, and it also serves small companies and the development of entrepreneurship. MUOVA’s experience can be utilised when building up the new RDI platforms. On the individual project level, VAMK also has systematic practices that ensure, for example, that projects have clear links to regional development and that they are conducted responsibly.

VAMK has potential to be a stronger player in RDI ecosystems

The operating environment and VAMK’s connections to selected companies in the region offer VAMK great potential to increase its RDI activities. However, given its vision to be the main partner in expertise, it could take a more proactive role in emerging ecosystems, and also in engaging smaller companies. A proactive role could include actions such as creating shared purpose, aligning objectives of ecosystem partners, or identifying potential impacts and the expected value of taking part in an ecosystem.

In order to magnify the societal impact of its RDI work, VAMK could benefit from connecting its RDI projects to build long-term joint research programmes and platforms with its partners and with the local higher education consortium. These programmes could be designed to offer opportunities for student projects, for continuous learning, for staff exchange between VAMK and its partners, and also for new business generation and startup incubation. These are all activities that VAMK already does, but bringing them together more steadfastly together can open up new, previously unseen links between them. The programmes could also help to obtain more funding from national and European funding sources.

VAMK has a good set of quantitative indicators for RDI that it uses for improvement but these could be complemented with assessment of more qualitative information that describes the nature of the impact the RDI is having to reform society. Qualitative indicators can bring a stronger frame for the development of RDI.

Commitment to open science is turning into action

VAMK is committed to advancing open science, as is evidenced through its declaration of open science and research. The interviews confirmed that commitment to open science is starting to turn into action: training workshops for staff are organised and new online publications have been generated for the dissemination of RDI outcomes. VAMK is also committed to following The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK) guidelines on Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland. In practice, these are taken into account by project-level guidelines that steer the conduct of RDI projects at VAMK.

When increasing publishing activity through the online magazines Energy and Muovaaja, VAMK should pay more attention to defining the target groups for them and steering the development of the magazines more to the needs of these target groups. Overall, it would be beneficial for VAMK to differentiate between the communication of the results and the impact of the RDI projects according to the target group to be addressed, for instance, working life partners and/or the public.