Doctoral hat. Photo: National Museum of Finland, Helsinki


The University of Turku has secured a significant €3.3 million funding from the European Union to launch a doctoral training project focused on addressing the skill shortages in the domains of green and digital transitions.

Professor Petteri Alho of the University of Turku's Geography Department will lead the "Solutions for Green and Digital Transition (UTU-GreDiT)" initiative,

which has been granted the €3.3 million Marie Skłodowska-Curie Cofund by the European Social Fund. The entire budget for the project stands at €7.4 million.

The University plans to recruit international researchers as doctoral candidates starting in early 2024, with their research work commencing in the autumn semester of the same year.

“Our aim is to train doctoral researchers capable of addressing intricate environmental challenges and promoting societal evolution and digitalization. Ultimately, our goal is to foster sustainable socio-economic growth in Europe,” remarked Professor Alho.

Climate change and biodiversity loss have led to economic losses surpassing €145 billion in the EU over the past decade, accompanied by incalculable human costs. These crises increasingly threaten food, water, and energy security, both in Europe and globally.

The research topics for the doctoral candidates will encompass a wide spectrum including climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, water security, sustainable environments, clean energy, robotics, and machine learning-based artificial intelligence.

The doctoral candidates will work in an interdisciplinary research environment. They'll benefit from a curriculum designed to bridge the skill gap in green and digital transition sectors, while also acquiring extensive professional skills. The core of the doctoral training project consists of 14 research groups and over 45 professors and senior researchers from various faculties, including the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Turku School of Economics.

“I believe the interdisciplinary framework, coupled with collaboration across three faculties, will provide our new doctoral candidates with a genuinely multidisciplinary research environment,” Professor Alho stated.

Additionally, a focus on workplace and career skills will be central to the training. The project collaborates with ten academic institutions, six businesses, and ten other organizations. Partners include prestigious institutions such as the World Bank, the University of Manchester, Boliden Harjavalta, and the German Aerospace Center.

These partners can participate in various ways: joining seminars, offering internship periods for doctoral candidates, and contributing funds. Efforts are currently underway to bring more partners on board.

“The trajectory of a researcher's career must evolve to be clearer and more diverse. It's essential to bolster the placement of PhD graduates outside the academic realm as well. Hence, doctoral training should encompass, alongside scientific pursuits, a broad range of professional skills and ideally personal experience outside academia,” stated Kalle-Antti Suominen, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Turku.