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

Assessment of the audit team

Metropolia is striving for innovation in areas supporting Sustainable Development

The RDI activities are managed by the director of RDI and their subordinates, the innovation directors of the five phenomenon-based innovation hubs. The Metropolia aims to enable phenomenon-based learning in innovation hubs and to link studies to RDI projects. The goal is to tackle societal phenomena through transnational cooperation. The starting point is, therefore, to grasp global challenges and trends rather than in separate skill sets. The hubs are supported by shared competence within key technologies, such as IT. The innovation directors are responsible for the operations and development of the RDI and their own innovation hubs. The RDI Services unit supports project activities.

Metropolia strategic goal is to be a bold reformer of higher education. The recent main strategic decisions and actions are evident. According to interviews, this is reflected in the new structure of four campuses and collaboration platforms with working life, such as the HyMy Village. A good example of acting boldly and quickly in an unexpected situation is the new Karamalmi campus. Management reacted to an unexpected construction problem in one old building by taking advantage of an opportunity presented by a collaboration network partner—Nokia. This led to the new Karamalmi campus. That decision and action have significantly impacted Metropolia and the society around the new campus.

Metropolia is actively seeking new RDI and artistic activities opportunities

Metropolia has a comprehensive and open view of RDI. The ‘ecosystem’ offers access to basic research through collaboration with partner universities, institutions and companies. Metropolia itself concentrates on applied RDI. In addition to its own research, innovation and development interests, Metropolia is involved in the activities of the 3AMK Alliance, which includes the two other big HEIs in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Here, Metropolia is responsible for the research theme. An established partnership model is used when forming more extended collaboration agreements.

The internet and other new technologies allow and enable employment and innovation in a fundamentally wider ‘stage’ than previously. Visual, audial and haptic elements are present in developing new products, services and buildings. For example, Metropolia’s HXRC, Helsinki Extended Reality Center, is an internationally respected technology platform with endless opportunities for art professionals. Artistic activities are actively brought nearer to and into society. The open-for-public ‘Mahdollisuuksien maisemia’ (‘Landscapes of opportunities’) event is an excellent example.

Artistic activity, however, still very much relies on highly individual skill and talent. Therefore the RDI aspect of the artistic field—also in Metropolia—relies primarily on high-quality education rather than on separate projects.

Systematic support for enhancing innovation

The ‘Metropolia spirit’ could be easily perceived in the audit interviews with staff. Metropolia’s annual planning cycle includes and involves units in systematic development. Quality management supports the RDI activities, such as project management guidelines, monitoring and development, peer reviews, steering groups, good scientific practice, ethical guidelines and action programmes. There are set targets to monitor RDI and feedback surveys, and feedback events assess it. The RDI and artistic renewal and innovation targets are present in personnel’s personal development discussions (PDDs). The bonus system is based on reaching targets, which are quarterly followed up in units’ meetings. High agility, which Metropolia is proud of, can be best utilised if it is supported on all levels by a shared, flexible and actively used quality system. Work still needs to be done with the full implementation of systematic quality tools.

During the strategic period of 2017–2022, the whole Metropolia community, including students, was invited to participate in the development of operations. One example of the participatory approach is the ‘Parru’ support service for dialogue and co-creation. This generated, for example, 50 sparring events in 2021.

Metropolia assesses the impact of its RDI activities through innovation hubs. Metropolia’s self-evaluation report also describes an ambitious RDIL roadmap, written down to activity level. Student involvement is one crucial finding of it. The focus on impact and entrepreneurship is evident, e.g. in the ‘Campus Incubator’: This cooperation with Aalto University and the city of Helsinki aims to start 100 new companies annually by the year 2030.

The audit team recommends even more active communication of the innovation strategy throughout the staff. A common understanding of future scenarios and main actions is key in leading big organisations, especially innovation-focused entities. The new strategy and the 4-campus structure will undoubtedly be helpful for this.

The library plays an essential role in promoting open science

Metropolia has systematic procedures in place to ensure good scientific practice. Metropolia is committed to the Finnish National Board in Research Integrity guidelines and to the Human Sciences Ethics Committee of the Helsinki Region Universities of Applied Sciences. Research ethics are also part of curricula in Metropolia. There is a transparent process for any suspected violations based on the responsible conduct of research (RCR). Metropolia employs two research ethics support persons and provides staff training in research ethics.

Metropolia’s focus areas are very much in touch with the real challenges of society. Both RDI  and education concern various fields of science. The interviews emphasised openness and transparency well; the extensive network of universities and other external partners supports openness. Collaboration projects with companies, of course, are usually confidential, which is considered in model agreements. New innovation projects will require careful consideration regarding public accessibility. Metropolia recognises that while the open science concept prefers disclosing all results and findings to the public, most private companies will prefer confidentiality.

The library is the traditional source for open data. Nowadays, a library’s function goes beyond its collection of accessible books and publications. The information search and info network presence are organised under Metropolia’s academic services. The ability to search, understand and interpret information obtained through the internet is an essential competence for a professional. As distance learning and international cooperation increase, the significance of critical information search is growing. The library of Metropolia provides projects with reliable sources of information, guidance and information retrieval services and support for materials management and publishing.

Metropolia has also recognised the risks of ‘excessive openness ’. The current needs for information security have been recognised and acted on. In the interviews, Metropolia reported around 100,000 hack attacks per day on its information systems. Metropolia is also prepared for these cyberattacks on its quality assurance system.