Housing market and urban economics researcher Teemu Lyytikäinen wins Award for Scientific Courage and atmospheric particle researcher Mikko Sipilä wins Award for Social Impact.
The Academy of Finland has presented awards to two internationally distinguished researchers of the new generation. The 2020 Award for Scientific Courage goes to Academy Research Fellow Teemu Lyytikäinen (b. 1977) and the 2020 Award for Social Impact goes to Academy Research Fellow Mikko Sipilä (b. 1978).
Teemu Lyytikäinen studies the housing market, urban economics and housing taxes. His research is innovative in combining econometric methods with very high-quality and extensive data on the Finnish and British housing markets. Mikko Sipilä’s research focuses on the formation of atmospheric particles. Studying the first steps of atmospheric particle formation is challenging in terms of measurement technology, and the development of measurement techniques is a cross-cutting feature of Sipilä’s work. Sipilä is a leading developer of measurement equipment in his field.
“Scientific courage requires an open mind when tackling a research problem”
Teemu Lyytikäinen studies the function of the housing market. He examines factors affecting the housing choices of households and the effects of state and municipal taxes and subsidies on the housing market. Lyytikäinen conducts empirical research to analyse how economic policy affects the housing market.
His research is concerned with, among other things, the impact of housing subsidies on rents and housing choices, the impact of real estate taxes on housing prices, and the distortions caused by transfer tax in the structure of household investment assets and in housing consumption. The research also provides new information for discussion and decision-making on the differentiation and income transfers of residential areas.
What interests Lyytikäinen in the research on housing markets and housing policy is its multidimensional nature. “When you buy a home, you also choose the neighbourhood and the municipal services and taxes. Your dwelling is not only a consumer commodity but also an investment. When I was planning my dissertation, I noticed a lack of reliable research data on the housing market and housing policy, and a huge societal demand for it.”
“Thanks to the development of research methods and improved research data, the reliability of research results has improved and many old concepts have had to be updated. This is of course part of normal scientific progress, but standing behind results that contradict previous studies and general perceptions does also require courage,” Lyytikäinen says. For him, scientific courage also refers to an open-minded attitude when tackling research problems.
Lyytikäinen finds inspiration in the opportunity to have a positive impact on the surrounding society by producing knowledge on the functioning of the economy and the effects of economic policy. Thanks to his international collaborations and research visits, he has been able to expand his competence to new themes and research methods. “International research visits and conferences help you to stay at the forefront of the field and often lead to new research ideas.”
Teemu Lyytikäinen obtained a PhD in economics at the University of Helsinki in 2009. He received Academy Research Fellow funding in 2018 and currently works as Senior Researcher at VATT Institute for Economic Research. He has also been a Postdoctoral Researcher at the London School of Economics Spatial Economics Research Centre, a Visiting Scholar at Tufts University (USA) and a Visiting Researcher at Stockholm School of Economics. In 2014–2016, he served as Secretary-General of the Economic Policy Council of Finland.
“Let research run its full course to make the most of it”
Mikko Sipilä and his research team were the first to report a direct experimental observation of the particle formation mechanism outside the laboratory, and he is one of the world’s leading atmospheric scientists. Sipilä is highly experienced and skilled in field observations and has also led many measurement campaigns. In recent years, measurements have been carried out at the particularly challenging research stations in the Antarctic and Arctic regions.
“I want my work to help humankind solve its major problems, such as climate change and species extinction. I hope that my work on atmospheric research, mainly on particulates and various vapours in the atmosphere, will at least partly produce significant knowledge to help understand the causes and consequences of global change and contribute to solving the problems,” Sipilä says.
Sipilä’s research has considerable social impact. The results of his research have been put to use in a wide variety of ways, and he has participated, among other things, in establishing three spin-off companies producing services and measurement equipment. Sipilä says that he actively strives to generate impact. As such, the results of his research may be difficult to apply, but when they are adopted in global climate models, for example, they have social impact.
According to Sipilä, research can sometimes lead to surprising opportunities. “In my case, they have been measurement techniques and technical solutions that have had new application areas. For example, when we discovered that the methods we had developed for detecting rare atmospheric compounds revealed explosives with unprecedented accuracy, I decided to find out whether our methods would be suitable to prevent the misuse of explosives. This work led to the establishment of a company focusing on improving civil aviation safety,” Sipilä explains.
“Developing your research at university to the point where it can be turned into a business is a long road. In my own career, I’ve been supported by the freedom of research and the long-term funding of the Academy of Finland, which makes it possible to launch new projects. It’s a good idea to let research run its full course to make the most of its opportunities. It can bring us a better environment, increased security or new jobs.”
In research, Sipilä appreciates the freedom to become interested in new things and make discoveries. “Success is possible when you realise that there are no ready answers and no ready practices or models when you’re working on something completely new.”
Mikko Sipilä obtained a PhD in physics at the University of Helsinki in 2010. He received Academy Research Fellow funding in 2016. He currently works as Associate Professor at the University of Helsinki. Sipilä leads a research team and, since 2020, heads the University of Helsinki’s Värriö Sub-Arctic Research Station in Salla. Sipilä was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2017.
Encouragement through awards
The Academy of Finland Award for Scientific Courage is granted to a researcher who has shown exceptional scientific audacity, creativity or innovation in research. The Award can be granted for a novel or original research idea, forward-looking work that cuts across scientific boundaries, or a willingness to take risks in research.
The Academy of Finland Award for Social Impact is granted to a researcher who has significantly contributed to increasing public awareness of scientific research or the researcher’s job, inspired interest in science, actively contributed to public debate in society, or otherwise strengthened the role, application and impact of science and research in society.
This is the 18th time that the Academy of Finland Awards are presented. The recipients must be Academy Research Fellows or work as Academy-funded Postdoctoral Researchers. Nominations are submitted by the Academy’s research councils to the Academy Board, which makes the final award decisions. The winners are presented with a mouth-blown glass ornament, “The Moment”, designed by Miia Liesegang.
Inquiries and more information
- Teemu Lyytikäinen, Academy Research Fellow, VATT Institute for Economic Research, tel. +358 295 519 431, teemu.lyytikainen(at)vatt.fi
- Mikko Sipilä, Academy Research Fellow, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 40 709 3103, mikko.sipila(at)helsinki.fi
- Heikki Mannila, President of the Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 001, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
Materials: Photos and video clips introducing the winners are available at the Academy of Finland’s media bank
Academy of Finland
Riitta Tirronen, Director of Communications
tel. +358 295 335 118