Kivenlahti metro station. Photo: Ruukki Construction

The agreement aims to strengthen research activities in steel construction both in Tampere and nationally. The education seeks to secure internationally high-caliber design expertise in steel structures and construction in Finland.

”The agreement now concluded further builds on strong steel construction research and education in Tampere. We have been engaged in long-term cooperation with companies in this sector for a number of years and are pleased that this cooperation continues,” says Keijo Hämäläinen, President at Tampere University.

Steel as a builder of a carbon-neutral society

The theme of the agreement period is ”Steel as a builder of a carbon-neutral society”. The research will focus on the study of low-carbon steel construction in accordance with Finland's and Europe's climate goals. In addition, research on traditional structural engineering issues will continue.

Tampere University has long experience of cooperation with SSAB and Ruukki. The first such partnership agreement was signed back in 2013 with what was then Tampere University of Technology, and even before then, close cooperation between the university and companies was characterized by steel construction research and education. At the same time, Tampere University is the only Finnish university with a professorship in steel construction in the field of civil engineering.

“Cooperation with SSAB and Ruukki has been very valuable in developing steel structure research since the beginning of my tenure track professorship. The partnership meant that research activities in Tampere were able to be kept going in a situation where the continuity of the entire professorship seemed uncertain,” says Associate Professor (tenure track) Kristo Mela.

Research brings direct benefits to business

The cooperation agreement includes an annual discussion with companies on what kind of research topics are relevant to them. Topics can come from both the needs of companies and researchers. Close cooperation aims to directly apply the research results to the companies' operations. In practice, there is a wide range of research collaboration from small experimental studies to doctoral dissertation projects and projects with third parties.

“SSAB and Ruukki have a good grasp of the dynamics of R&D activities and the time horizons that can lead to new results that benefit business. This has allowed the partnership to tackle topics that require deepening at least at a doctoral level,” Mela says.

During the current agreement period, the aim is also to research larger concepts, for which EU funding is sought with international partners, for example. At the same time, research continues in bilateral projects. During the agreement period now beginning, the aim is also to develop the interdisciplinarity of research.

“Cooperation with Tampere University is very important to us and ensures high-caliber research on steel structures and construction, which is also directly useful in practical applications. The carbon neutrality theme of the new agreement period is well aligned with our transformation to fossil-free steelmaking and our own goal of largely eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from our own operations by 2030,” says Olavi Huhtala, Head of SSAB Europe.

”We want to be involved in promoting high-quality research and education in steel construction in Finland, thereby ensuring that we have top experts in the field in Finland also in the future. As a company, we want to take construction towards carbon neutrality, and low-emission steel construction products are a key part of this endeavor,” says Sami Eronen, President at Ruukki Construction.