Aalto University (Finnish: Aalto-yliopisto, Swedish: Aalto-universitetet) is a university primarily located in Greater Helsinki, Finland. It was established in 2010 as a merger of three major Finnish universities: the Helsinki University of Technology (established 1849), the Helsinki School of Economics (established 1904), and the University of Art and Design Helsinki (established 1871). The close collaboration between the scientific, business and arts communities is intended to foster multi-disciplinary education and research. The Finnish government, in 2010, set out to create a university that fosters innovation, merging the three institutions into one.
The university is composed of six schools with close to 17,500 students and 4,000 staff members, making it Finland’s second largest university. The main campus of Aalto University is located in Otaniemi, Espoo, where the engineering schools as well as the bachelor programs of the School of Business operate. Other functions of the School of Business are located in Töölö. The School of Arts, Design and Architecture is mainly located in Arabianranta. All of the university’s activities will be located in the Otaniemi campus by 2020. In addition to the Greater Helsinki area, the university also operates in Mikkeli and Pori.
Aalto University’s operations showcase Finland’s experiment in higher education. The Aalto Design Factory, Aalto Ventures Program and Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (Aaltoes), among others, drive the university’s mission for a radical shift towards multidisciplinary learning and have contributed substantially to the emergence of Helsinki as a hotbed for startups. Aaltoes is Europe’s largest and most active student run entrepreneurship community that has founded major concepts such as the Startup Sauna accelerator program and Slush (event) startup event.
The university is named in honour of Alvar Aalto, a prominent Finnish architect, designer and alumnus of the former Helsinki University of Technology, who was also instrumental in designing a large part of the university’s main campus in Otaniemi.