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Uniting Companies and International University Talents

The UNITING COMPANIES AND INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY TALENTS initiative is ESF funded and runs 1.3.2021-28.2.2023. UNICOM is part of the Course towards Finland – growth and competitiveness in growth centres from international talent project, which aims to boost the growth of companies by promoting the placement of international talents on the Finnish labor market. The University of Turku coordinates the UNICOM project.

The UNICOM project responds to the lack of talents in companies located in Southwest Finland in pre-selected fields: Tech, Health and Clean. The project aims to increase the labor market’s openness and attractiveness to highly educated international talents already living in the region. The companies in the region that are growing and recruiting have noticed a lack of talents in research, product development and business, particularly in the following fields: robotics and automation, electric transportation and battery technology, diagnostics and biosciences as well as ICT. These needs are best met by the currently underutilized group of international doctoral candidates, postdoctoral researchers, and master’s students.

The actions of the UNICOM project will be piloted and developed in cooperation with partner companies, which have already committed themselves to the project during the application phase. The actions are divided into three distinct work packages:

  • Internships at companies for doctoral candidates and post-docs,
  • workplace coaching for international talents, and
  • campaigns and support services for companies.

The UNICOM project’s consortium has been assembled based on the companies’ needs. Turku Science Park Ltd., which also works together with the City of Turku in coordinating the region’s Talent Hub operations, is in charge of the project’s company services. Åbo Akademi University and the University of Turku (development-, research career/graduate school- and career services) are in charge of services aimed at international talents. Other partners include the regional business development company of Salo, Yrityssalo Ltd., Southwest Finland TE Office/EURES, Turku Chamber of Commerce and SME’s from the selected fields.

More information is available at the Career in Southwest Finland -webpages and below.

Why get involved in UNICOM?

Why UNICOM?

The need for talents has been actively discussed within society and communication from industry has emphasised that companies face a lack of skilled workforce. The central mission of the University of Turku is to produce highly skilled talents, but as an Entrepreneurial University, the university may in collaboration with industry create opportunities for generating new innovations and business. A central way of answering this growing need of companies is to more effectively consider the international talent already living in Finland when recruiting a highly educated workforce. The University of Turku offers an attractive and competitive research environment. One of the most important ways of fulfilling these aims is to offer support to the international talents in the University.

The UNICOM project aims to facilitate the interactions between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) located in Southwest Finland and the international talents already living in the area. Through UNICOM, we aim to build a needs-oriented and solid collaboration between the Universities and the SMEs who have committed to the project already during the application phase.

Benefits of UNICOM – why get involved?

There is a long-term benefit from the UNICOM initiative for all parties involved – the participating companies, the University and the international researchers. The placements strengthen the networks and the industry collaborations of the units and the researchers working within them. In addition, attitudes towards entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship skills are strengthened and disseminated through teaching.

By participating in an industry placement, the researcher:

  • Gets work experience and learns new skills and ways of working.
  • Implement potential collaborative projects and network with industry connections.
  • Learns about Finnish work culture and working life outside of academia, networks and gains industry connections.
  • Learns and develops transferable skills and methodological competencies outside of the academic environment.

The researchers are specialists in their fields and bring with them a deep understanding of the field as well as knowledge of e.g. new current methods and other skills learned during their research careers. These transferable skills relate to project design and management, initiative and independent working, and problem solving. The international background of the researcher may offer new points of view, cultural understanding and language skills, all of which may help with e.g. marketing or developing international networks.

By offering an industry placement, the company:

  • Meets motivated and innovative experts: University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University’s doctoral candidates and postdocs represent wide-ranging competencies in the Health/Tech/Clean fields.
  • Participates in the development of a new type of recruiting channel to respond to the lack of talents.
  • Gets access to talents with up-to-date knowledge of current research and methods within their expert fields. The industry placements may include research work, developing new processes and products, reporting and/or international marketing.
  • Get visibility through the opportunity to create a testimonial video together with the international researcher. The video will be published on the UNICOM website and in various Turku Science Park Ltd. communication channels.

Read more about the industry placements for international doctoral candidates and postdocs below. For any questions you may have about the industry placements, please contact Eevi Savola (industry projects), or Marko Kelahaara (company contact) from the UNICOM project team!

UNICOM work packages

Industry placements at companies for doctoral candidates and post-docs

The UNICOM initiative is a collaboration is between the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and Turku Science Park, as well as other partners across Southwest Finland. UNICOM aims to bridge the gap between talents looking for companies and companies looking for talents. One part of the initiative focuses on helping international doctoral candidates and post docs gain work experience in host organizations located in Southwest Finland that focus on Health, Tech, and Clean.
 

INTERNATIONAL POSTDOCS

Are you interested in gaining valuable experience from working within industry whilst getting to use your expert knowledge in a Health/Tech/Clean company located in Southwest Finland?

Here is a unique opportunity to find a part-time industry placement with the support of the University of Turku under the ESF-funded Uniting Companies and International University Talents (UNICOM) project! As a postdoc you will independently search for a placement in a company that supports your area of expertise. Please discuss and agree with your PI or the head of the research group you are working in which part(s) of your project could be suitable to be integrated in an industry placement.

The part-time industry placement may not exceed six months, and should be max. 20% of your total working time. However, based on a reasonable application, the industry placement can be tailored to fit the needs of the post doc and host company. The industry placements may include research work, developing new processes and products, reporting and/or international marketing.

To inform us of your interest prior to finding your industry placement, or to inform us if you already have an industry placement, please fill in this Webropol form.

Once we have been in touch with you and confirmed that you are eligible to enrol in the UNICOM project, and you have arranged your industry placement at a host company, you can then apply using an online application form. More information, including an information letter you can send when contacting companies, will be provided to eligible applicants.

The next steps in the process of finding an industry placement are to:

  • Contact the funder of your postdoc project to check if the funding can be used for an industry placement. If not, then remember to negotiate with the company on receiving a salary for the work you are doing. Please note, UNICOM does not fund the industry placements.
  • Discuss with the Head of your Department on integrating the industry placement to your postdoctoral project (when applicable) or applying for a leave of absence.
  • Discuss with your network, including your colleagues, about SMEs located in Southwest Finland in Health/Tech/Clean fields to contact.
  • Start contacting suitable SMEs. A letter that you may send as an attachment to your application will be provided to eligible applicants.
  • When a suitable match has been found and you have preliminary agreed on the duties in written form, complete the UNICOM form.
  • Ask the company to name a contact person and officially agree on the details of the industry placement (duties in written). If required, a model contract will be provided for you when the placement has been agreed on.
  • If you are successful in securing your industry placement as part of UNICOM, you will be required to fill in feedback forms after your placement has finished.

You can also use a self-study career coaching package “How to Work in Finland”. The self-study package includes tips on CV and cover letter writing to help you when contacting potential companies outside of an academic context. You can also apply for the Working Life Coach program and the My Finnish Career –coaching.

By applying, you will have the opportunity to meet and network with other attendees and host company contacts at a feedback and evaluation session in Autumn 2022.

Did you miss the Q&A session on 1 December 2021? Contact Eevi Savola to ask your questions about the industry placements!

 

INTERNATIONAL DOCTORAL CANDIDATES

Are you interested in gaining valuable experience from working within industry whilst getting to use your expert knowledge in a Health/Tech/Clean company located in Southwest Finland?

Soon you will have the unique opportunity to apply for an industry placement in a host company affiliated with the ESF-funded Uniting Companies and International University Talents (UNICOM) project! The industry placements are 1-3 months long. They may include research work, developing new processes and products, reporting and/or international marketing. Doctoral candidates should not continue their thesis work during the industry placement.

The call for applications for the 1-3 month industry placements in small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who have committed to the project will launch in January 2022. The placements will take place in April – September 2022. The project descriptions of the open positions will be posted on this website. You can apply using an online form and the applications of eligible applicants will be sent directly to the recruiting SMEs for evaluation and selection.

The ideal candidates for these industry placements are international doctoral candidates who are near the end of their doctoral degrees, and who are interested in learning important transferable skills and gaining work experience in a related field outside of academic research.

In the majority of cases, the recruiting company will be responsible for the salary of the doctoral candidate, as well as other employee obligations.

Please note! The doctoral candidate and thesis supervisor(s) can also search for a placement together. Please contact Eevi Savola if you are intending to arrange your own industry placement. We will confirm if you are eligible to enroll in the UNICOM project. Please also contact us if you already have an industry placement!

You also have the opportunity to use a self-study career coaching package, “How to Work in Finland”. The self-study package includes tips on CV and cover letter writing to help you when contacting potential companies outside of an academic context. You will also meet and network with other attendees and host company contacts at a feedback and evaluation session in Autumn 2022.

We will arrange a Q&A session over zoom in January 2022. Stay tuned!

Contact Eevi Savola to ask your questions about the industry placements!

Workplace coaching for international talents
Campaigns and support services for companies

More information is available at the Career in SouthWest Finland -webpages.

Questions?

Contact

For more information, please contact

UNICOM initiative

Irinja Paakkanen

Nina Blom

WP1: Internships at companies for doctoral candidates and post-docs

Eevi Savola

Åbo Akademi University doctoral candidates and postdocs, please contact Research Coordinator Maria Ljung

WP2: Workplace coaching for international talents

Lotta Metsärinne

Fanny Kurppa

Sanna Tuominen

WP3: Campaigns and support services for companies

Marko Kelahaara

Ville Heirola