2.1 Managing societal engagement and impact

Strategy guides Metropolia to provide solutions for societal challenges

Metropolia has a passion for solving challenges and its goals regarding impact and interaction are based on its strategy. For the theme of phenomenon-based innovation hubs, the intent is for Metropolia to be known for its innovative solutions for social and global challenges and also as an impactful, ecosystem-based actor.

Metropolia has five innovation hubs (figure 10). They are based on global and social phenomena, in which Metropolia has extensive competence and for which Metropolia’s RDI activities produce solutions:

Illustration of five pictures forming a collage

Figure 10 Phenomenon-based innovation hubs and campuses’ collaboration platforms at Metropolia

Metropolia’s innovation hubs operate on an ecosystem basis: partners, students and personnel join forces in cross-sectoral cooperation (culture, business, social and health care, as well as technology). Learning, research, developing, and innovation are user-oriented. Solutions are found through experimenting and practical work. The collaboration platforms (see 2.3) of Metropolia’s campuses provide a setting for open RDI activities and teaching. The platforms are used by innovation hubs and education partners, students, and personnel. The resources available on the platforms and Metropolia’s partnership model provide a foundation for long-term ecosystem partnerships. (See 2.4).

The transformational philosophy of RDIL (RDI + learning) which renews the integration of the RDI activities and education and any related activities are based on this ecosystem partnership. Metropolia’s goal is to have education, RDI activities and the campus collaboration platforms operated by the innovation hubs form functional, phenomenon-based entities (see 4.). The RDI activities and education are not split into separate operations. Students complete studies in RDI projects under the supervision of their teachers. The multidisciplinary innovation project MINNO (10 credits) has been a good starting point. The principles are student- and phenomenon-orientation, openness, systemization and sustainable development.

The activities are managed by setting strategy-based targets for the units and by acting in accordance with the practices of the management system and operations management (see 3.1). Support is provided by strategic roadmaps, such as sustainable development, development of the EU operations and RDIL, as well as the units’ annual action plans. Management emphasizes systematization, dialogue and co-creation (see 2.3). Systematization supports the simultaneous consideration of several perspectives and the conceptualization of inter-dependencies. The management group monitors the progress of the impact targets in quarterly impact reviews (Vaikuttavuuskatsaus 1/2022, only in Finnish). At the moment, the most significant evidence of Metropolia achieving its impact target include Metropolia’s sizable campus reform, the advancement of sustainable development goals (see 3.4), and the deployment of an innovation hub operating model.

Interaction with society directs the operations

Students are Metropolia’s primary stakeholders. This is reflected by the close interaction with Metropolia’s student union METKA. METKA and Metropolia engage in continuing dialogue with each other and their stakeholders. In recent years, METKA has assumed an increasingly active role in society as an advocate of issues important to students. For example, it has participated in a survey on the funding of student unions and in follow-ups to the survey. The survey is conducted by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It has also been involved in the implementation and development of the Tuudo mobile app serving the HEI community.

Metropolia has been named the higher education institution responsible in several socially significant projects (in Finnish only) in which Finnish higher education institutions promote competence growth, employment, digitalization, and development of higher education institutions. Examples include the responsibility for the development of the Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland (SIMHE) services since 2016; the joint electronic entrance examination of the universities of applied sciences in which Metropolia has acted as coordinator, developer, and service provider; as well as the Digivisio 2030 project common to the entire HEI sector.

Interaction on a societal level transpires in the form of an ongoing dialogue with the actors and stakeholders from different sectors. Metropolia is an active operator and developer within the innovation ecosystem in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. In particular, cooperation with the Helsinki Metropolitan Area municipalities and the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council is strong and based on forecast data (see also 2.3). Each of the five innovation hubs (figure 11) has profiled its RDI project portfolio based on the themes arising from society’s needs. The project portfolios of Metropolia’s innovation hubs are linked, for example to the programme of smart specialization run by the Uusimaa region. They are also linked to the themes of the ecosystem agreement signed by the Helsinki Metropolitan Area with the Finnish government. An example of this includes the FAIR – Finnish AI Region innovation hub, part of the EDIH (European Digital Innovation Hubs) network. In the hub, Metropolia strengthens its connections to national and European innovation environments through its HXRC collaboration platform (Helsinki XR Center).


Star-shaped chart with five areas, each with 3-4 subareas

Figure 11 Phenomenon-based innovation hubs (points of the star) are profiled based on the themes arising from society’s needs.

As Finland’s largest UAS, Metropolia wants to lead the way in the EU activities of universities of applied sciences and have a passion for solving challenges also at the European level, in the arena of international phenomena. To promote international relations, Metropolia has in place an international action plan, in which the main goals include increasing Metropolia’s impact, activity and visibility at the EU level. Metropolia also impacts globally in accordance with the goal of sustainable development through global education.

Interaction in society is managed through Metropolia’s partnership model, which includes both ecosystem partnerships and bilateral partnerships. Since 2018, Metropolia has signed bilateral agreements on cooperation with 30 companies. The agreements aim to increase systematization and impact multidisciplinary cooperation with companies (in Finnish only). In society, the focus of the partnerships is shifting to strategic, long-term, and broad ecosystem work, and the partnership model is renewed accordingly. An indication of successful long-term work is the FAIR innovation hub in EDIH network, as mentioned earlier.

Strengths Enhancement areas
Innovation hubs that enable effective and responsible innovation built on phenomena and partnerships. The innovation hubs form the foundation for co-creation and the building of ecosystems. Sensitivity to change, made possible through internal funding (strategy funds), and more agile pilots for new operating practices.

A systematic approach in Metropolia’s management that enables change processes, such as the implementation of RDIL.

Strengthening innovation hubs’ communication and active participation in public debate.
Close and functional cooperation between METKA and Metropolia’s management. Knowledge management to support effective RDI activities.