The University of Eastern Finland recently completed a two-year ESF project, AlzPoint, seeking to create a network in the field of Alzheimer’s disease research, education and innovation. Since the launch of the project in 2010, Alzheimer’s research groups at the UEF have joined forces to enhance regional development of Alzheimer’s research, the related higher education and innovation activities. The project witnessed the establishment of strong partnerships between many regional institutions, e.g. the UEF, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Kuopio University Hospital, local enterprises and regional municipalities. This very active and innovative collaboration produced many of the outcomes that were anticipated at the beginning of the project.
AlzPoint organized 13 courses and seminars for researchers, technicians and healthcare personnel working with memory-impaired persons. The former target group benefitted from the project by updating their skills to the level required in the competitive research work as well as in the labour market. The project has been a model of good practice in promoting education among care workers and in providing support for facing and taking care of memory-impaired persons in their daily work. The AlzPoint project was very popular, as over 800 people participated in its events.
The main networking events, the PredictAD workshop in June 2011 and the 6th Kuopio Alzheimer Symposium in June 2012 were very popular. Almost 300 people including also international participants from more than 20 countries attended these events.
One of the activities of AlzPoint was to produce new educational material and methods to support Alzheimer’s research and education. Several new research methods were developed and two educational videos were produced to be used as supporting training material for caregivers.
AlzPoint was active in enhancing university-sector innovation activities to better support the commercialisation of university-based expertise, which is currently a burning issue within the Finnish university sector. The project brought together innovative local business actors and academics to discuss and share their experience, and to obtain a good understanding of their needs.
The project also implemented several pilot projects in close co-operation with the project partner Savonia University of Applied Sciences (the departments of Information Technology and Engineering and Technology). These pilots were examples of great teamwork. The outcomes will benefit the research groups of the UEF in their daily work. In addition, many good contacts were made between the staff at the UEF and Savonia. In the future, the collaboration between higher education institutions, such as universities and universities of applied sciences, will be increased.
Finally, the AlzPoint project’s webpage (www.alzpoint.fi) is considered useful and will be maintained also in the future. There have been over 6,600 visitors on the pages.
In conclusion, the outcomes of AlzPoint activities have responded to the key objective of the ESF programme, which is to improve the attractiveness of eastern Finland by utilizing the region’s own strengths both nationally and internationally.
The AlzPoint project was partly financed by the European Union (ESF). In addition, the project was co-financed by the UEF, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, and the cities of Kuopio, Leppävirta and Siilinjärvi.
Hilkka Soininen, professor
University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Clinical Medicine – Neurology, Kuopio
Publishing year: 2012Back to this years article listing