Year 2019 succeeded as planned. University Properties of Finland Ltd is an exceptional real estate owner that has an important role in providing premises for the Finnish field of universities.

Last spring, we implemented an extensive strategy round where we interviewed universities and government representatives regarding the owner perspective for our strategy to be reformed. The development of university education also creates change pressures for the premises. The round of interviews provided us with a perspective in which to support our future strategy work.

In the future, university campuses are expected to encourage interaction, while universities still need premises where teaching and research of high quality can be carried out. The occupancy rate of premises used for teaching or research must also be further developed, and this is one reason why our customer base is also thinking about the real estate strategies of sites and how the premises could better respond to the future operational needs of the educational institute. The development of services available at the campuses is an essential element of our joint strategy work with the universities.

“Synergy is important to us: the tenants operating as companies and the universities benefit from each other.”

The operation of companies at the campuses is a growing trend. The companies want to be close to the students, because being part of the students’ everyday life makes it easier to recruit suitable employees for positions suited for students of different disciplines. At the same time, the company creates its employer image for a new generation of employees. The synergy between universities and companies also plays a key role when the companies establish themselves in campus areas.

Changes in the users of premises and the ways they are used affects the conversion of the existing stock of premises. Not everything can be re-built and it is not even worth it; instead, the existing buildings should be utilised to the full, by challenging both ourselves and our partners now and in the future. Modernisation of the existing premises to comply with current requirements and increasing their occupancy rate is also part of ecologically sustainable operations.

SYK has set a carbon neutrality target for 2030. A lot of work has already been done, but even more will be performed in the future. The entire real estate stock must be included in this process. Ecological sustainability also manifests itself in our operations in other ways. The green bond, already issued in 2018, has been well received in 2019.

In addition, we are seeking a BREEAM environmental classification of Excellent level for our major project, the Aurum building being built in the University of Turku campus area. There are only a few of these buildings with Excellent classification according to the BREEAM system in Finland. The multi-user building being built for Åbo Akademi University and the University of Turku will be completed in 2021, and its construction budget is EUR 69 million.

“I have even found the piloting culture of SYK to be exceptional, and it will certainly bring added value to both our customers and end users, while also providing us with valuable understanding.”

In 2020, we particularly want to develop the cooperation with shareholder universities and improve communications and the way to develop, vision and expand the mutual understanding. SYK’s DNA has a strong demo culture and appetite for trying out new things. We want to encourage universities to reconsider their own roles as users of the premises and how they would like to test and investigate new things as occupants of the premises. The interesting future demos include the testing of machine vision for monitoring the occupancy rates and implementation of escape rooms in learning methods.

Greetings from the retiring CEO

Mauno Sievänen worked as the CEO of SYK from the establishment of the company to the end of October 2019.

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© Suomen Yliopistokiinteistöt Oy 2020