MIMIR Fellows programme brings Nordic wisdom from universities into wider society

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The new MIMIR Fellows programme is a course package based on the fellows concept already adopted by many of the world’s leading universities: batches of 12 interdisciplinary students will take interdisciplinary courses at the interface between academia and the business world. The program is planned to be university independent and arranged in university cities in all Nordic countries and later also in the Baltics. The first batch of the MIMIR Fellows program, which is supported by Tesi, has already started.

The role of universities in the world has changed, and continues to change. MIMIR Fellows, though, aims to revive through interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial cooperation one of the fundamentals of universities: active innovation through curiosity-driven basic research.

“I completed my Master’s degree in Abu Dhabi at the first university in the world to specialize in sustainable development. I’m convinced that technology and science will play a crucial role in solving the challenges facing our planet and our climate. Universities are in a key position because they are politically neutral and driven by knowledge and pursuit of the truth,” says Ghita Wallin, the driving force behind the programme.

I’m convinced that technology and science will play a crucial role in solving the challenges facing our planet and our climate. Universities are in a key position because they are politically neutral and driven by knowledge and pursuit of the truth.

- Ghita Wallin

Named after the wisest of the aesir gods in Norse mythology, the programme aims at developing the commercialisation and productisation of university innovations. This process, also known as tech transfer, has a significant societal impact. When working optimally, tech transfer spawns new innovations and businesses that solve sustainability challenges. The financial markets investing in these innovations and businesses also grow and develop.

However, there is need for MIMIR Fellows’ work in Finland. As both Tesi and driving forces behind the fellows programme have observed, the Finnish tech transfer market has shown slow progress compared to its international peers. There are multiple reasons for this: collaboration between Finnish universities and research institutes is imperfect, and their tech transfer practices are not harmonized; researchers are offered only limited entrepreneurship expertise and commercialisation support; and links between the business community, investors and researchers are frail.

MIMIR Fellows is a natural partner for Tesi

Tesi has a long and positive history with the Fellows concept. Tesi was instrumental in launching the concept that brought the Aalto Fellows program to Finland, in which Tesi’s representatives acted as visiting course lecturers, and course participants did their internships in Tesi.

Apart from such positive earlier experience, it was natural for Tesi to support the MIMIR Fellows program. The decision was all the easier because the program aims to develop Finnish tech transfer, and Tesi had already identified a need for improvement in that field. Tesi’s role in the program includes lecturing cooperation and internships. In May 2022, socio-anthropology researcher Sakari Mesimäki will begin his temporary stint at Tesi. Sakari will focus on shedding new light on the interaction between fund managers and Tesi. Read more about his profile and project research here.

“Tesi always strives to make a positive social handprint, and we have many ways of doing that. The MIMIR Fellows program, for instance, expands fruitful collaboration between universities through its participants. Successful commercialization of research, on the other hand, will likely create deep tech companies. In future years, their growth will boost investment in R&D and innovation – fields of vital importance to Finland,” explains Matias Kaila, Director of Fund Investments and the person responsible for the MIMIR Fellows programme at Tesi.

An application process is launched once a year in each university city. At present, the program is arranged in Helsinki and Lappeenranta, in Finland, as well as in Trondheim, Norway, and Reykjavik, Iceland. The plan is to expand the program to all the Nordic and Baltic countries.

Selected students will spend their internships in venture capital-backed startups or funds and also participate in community events and guest speaker lectures. Read more on the program’s website, which will also contain information about the 2023 application process.

“The Nordic welfare society provides a stable breeding ground for science-based innovations and the companies building on them. Young people with a burning desire to bring about change will add the spark needed to start the fire. My hope and my goal is that the Nordic countries will be global pioneers on this path,” concludes Wallin.

Further information:

Ghita Wallin
ghita@mimirfellows.org