Helsinki Graduate School of Economics gets new professorship in data sciences

New professorship at the Aalto University School of Business made possible by joint 2.5 million euro donation from the Saastamoinen and Jenny and Antti Wihuri foundations

The Helsinki Graduate School of Economics (Helsinki GSE) works to increase the quantity and quality of economic education and training in Finland, as well as promote cooperation between economics and other academic fields. Helsinki GSE is a joint unit of Aalto University, the University of Helsinki and Hanken School of Economics.

Helsinki GSE’s new economics and data sciences professorship is housed at the Aalto University School of Business. The professorship is based on a 2.5 million euro donation made by the Saastamoinen Foundation and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. Both donated 1.25 million.

Accelerating digitalisation increases the amount of data in all sectors of society. Efficient use of digital materials in decision-making requires the ability to gather, organize and analyse data. Consequently, the decision-making process produces essential information about causal relationships.

The need to use data more efficiently in the decision-making process is why donors support the economics and data sciences professorship.

‘The professorship complements the high level of Finnish research on machine learning by introducing alongside a profound understanding of the economic behaviour of decision-makers,’ says Petteri Karttunen, Chairman of the Saastamoinen Foundation’s Board of Directors.

According to Arto Mäenmaa, Executive Director of the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Helsinki GSE is also an appealing project.

‘High-quality science is a prerequisite for our society’s success. Collaborations are often excellent ways to increase effectiveness. Helsinki GSE combines these,’ he explains.

The economics and data sciences professorship generates significant cross-faculty and cross-school opportunities for different universities and schools of business.

‘I would like to thank the Saastamoinen Foundation and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation for their long-term support of Aalto University and the School of Business, as well as for this substantial donation. The professorship will strengthen Helsinki GSE’s ability to provide first-class research and education,’ says Ilkka Niemelä, President of Aalto University.

The Dean of the School of Business Ingmar Björkman also thanks the foundations: ‘This is a significant donation. The understanding of data analysis is becoming more and more important in economics education as well as in business operations.’

Economists specialised in economics and data sciences gain employment in various sectors.

‘Combining statistical analysis with the economic modelling of decision-making creates considerable added value, for example in the technology and game industry, retail sector and public sector,’ states Otto Toivanen, Academic Director of the Helsinki GSE.

Helsinki GSE started operating in spring 2018 and its doctoral programme and research master’s programme for postgraduate studies began in autumn 2018.

The Saastamoinen Foundation supports science and art by promoting research, training and networking in Finland and internationally.

Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation works towards fulfilling the requisites of a thriving society by enabling science, art and social activities.

Photo: Aalto University, Mikko Raskinen