New ideas emerge from encounters between people in Lappeenranta

The joint campus of the university and the university of applied sciences in Lappeenranta is a place where big problems are solved and people work together towards the common good.

New solutions and innovations emerge from meetings between people to exchange and develop ideas. The joint campus in Lappeenranta is a genuine success story.
“When you bring together people with different ideas and approaches but the same overall objective, you will see the emergence of better ideas and solutions,” says Juha-Matti Saksa, Rector of LUT University.

From the administrative perspective, having a campus that is shared by the university and the university of applied sciences means that taxpayer money is used sensibly. Sharing the cost of the premises is between two institutions generates clear savings.

Green ideas over coffee

In addition to the university and the university of applied sciences, the diversity of the campus is increased by the presence of several businesses, a primary school and a day-care centre. Teachers, researchers, business executives, entrepreneurs and even children meet each other on the campus and you never know what these encounters can lead to.

“For example, the Green Campus idea started from five professors having coffee around the same table and coming up with a vision,” Saksa says.

The Skinnarila campus, which was already recognised as the world’s greenest campus in the 2014 Sustainable Campus Excellence Awards, takes advantage of the technical expertise of its education institutions at its on-campus wind and solar power plants, among other things. The focus on green solutions goes beyond technology: every student explores a sustainable theme as part of their studies.

“For example, we have developed a carbon neutral fuel combining air and sunlight, and it can even be turned into a protein with the help of a microbe. Aviation will no longer be a destructive force and famine will be a thing of the past,” Saksa envisions.

Increase in collaborative projects

The cooperation between LUT University and the Saimaa University of Applied Sciences gives both institutions the opportunity to focus on their strengths. The results are better and more advanced than either institution could achieve on their own.

Basic scientific research and the theoretical work is done at LUT University. The university of applied sciences applies the research to show that it actually works in the real world.

While the cooperation has led to a slight increase in the number of projects, its major impact is seen in the scale of the projects. They also include corporate partners that expedite the commercialisation of the developed solutions.

“Researchers have more time for research, the university and the university of applied sciences have more funds available to use on larger projects, which in turn benefit the Finnish business sector in the form of new products or the introduction of new attributes to products. Everybody wins,” Saksi explains.

One example of the joint projects is the DRIVE! project, which developed a component that improves the performance of mobile work machines that use hybrid technology. The project’s simulation models also provided evidence of the benefits of machine hybridisation.

Encounters in a café

When it comes to chance encounters, the café and restaurant are the two most important places on the campus.

“It is also significant that the buildings on this campus are connected. You don’t need to put your coat on and go outside to meet other people. We are always sharing the same space,” Saksa says.
The potential for chance encounters is further increased by the expansion to Lahti at the turn of the year. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, which is owned by LUT University, had 5,000 new people to meet and collaborate with to come up with more new ideas.

TEXT: Anne Hänninen

KUVA: Jami Pankakari / LUT