Tartu University News

University of Tartu IdeaLab sends the best teams to USA

4 days 23 hours ago

UT IdeaLab invites teams with early-stage startup ideas to apply for the NGAL®international business development programme taking place from 2–14 June in Tartu, Tallinn and Charleston, USA. Application deadline is 24 March.

Two members of the two teams selected by IdeaLab will take part in a week-long training programme in Estonia, followed by a trip to the United States of America where they develop their idea further with the help of business mentors and take part in a business ideas competition. The teams of all five organising universities will compete for the 3000-dollar first prize.

Last year the University of Tartu team ResDec won the second place in this competition. "The victory was a pleasant surprise," said the founding members, doctoral students Taavi Vanaveski (Neurosciences) and Mikk Puustusmaa (Gene Technology). Vanaveski added that it probably helped that ResDec’s ambition – rooting out antibiotic resistance – was  also a topical issue in US healthcare. Mikk Puustusmaa is grateful to organisers both in Estonia and in the USA, "During the programme we received invaluable contacts, experiences, and advice from mentors". He encourages everyone to participate in the NGAL® programme because it is a great oppurtunity to network and get a lifetime’s worth of experience.

Two members of the teams selected from the University of Tartu will get the trip to America, incl. accommodation and meals, free of charge. All teams whose tech-based startup ideas are not yet fully developed are welcome to apply. More information and application on IdeaLab webpage.

The project is supported by Harry and Reba Huge Foundation.

Further information: Andres Vaher, UT IdeaLab marketing and communication specialist, +372 5558 7359, andres.vaher [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer tel +372 737 5681
mob +372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee/en Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Diagnosing congenital metabolic disorders in newborns improved in Estonia

2 weeks 4 days ago

A new diagnostic method that is most suitable for Estonia was developed at the University of Tartu, which helps detect congenital metabolic disorders earlier and more effectively than before. The new method also helps discover more diseases in newborns with one screening.

The newborn screening for congenital metabolic diseases in Estonia was outdated and the 20-year-old system needed updating.

In most of the western European countries and in the United States of America, a screening method that allows to identify about 30 different metabolic disorders with one screening has already been used for a long time. At the same time, Estonia was still using a method that allowed to identify only one disease at a time, and two different methods had to be applied for diagnosing two diseases.

This situation was solved by Karit Reinson who defended her doctoral thesis at the University of Tartu Institute of Clinical Medicine. She developed and implemented an expanded newborn screening method most suitable for Estonia. This single analysis cycle helps identify 19 different congenital metabolic disorders.

Expanded screening

Hereditary metabolic diseases are disorders of the biochemical balance in the organism caused by variations or errors in one gene. As a result of such diseases, many vital functions in the body may be impaired and cause acute or chronic organ failure, severe mental retardation, life-threatening conditions and premature death.

“Even though it is a congenital disease, the symptoms indicating metabolic disorders are not evident in most children at birth”, said Karit Reinson.

During pregnancy, the mother’s organism compensates for any deficiencies in the foetus’s metabolism via the placenta, and therefore, symptoms characteristic to the disorder gradually start appearing only after birth. These are often irreversible and cause significant mental retardation and shorten life expectancy.

“That’s why it is very important to diagnose treatable hereditary metabolic diseases early. That way, it is possible to provide early relevant counselling for the family and treatment for the child,” added Reinson.

“Also, it is possible to avoid the birth of any new children carrying the disease into the family, because with the right diagnosis, we can offer prenatal diagnostics. The risk for repeating hereditary metabolic disorders in the family is often 25%, despite both of the parents being completely healthy and having no known chronic diseases with childhood onset in the family.”

The newly graduated doctor explained that newborn screening programmes have been continually altered and developed to be able to discover treatable metabolic disorders when no symptoms are visible yet. This is what Karit Reinson did together with her supervisor, professor Katrin Õunap, and on 1 January 2014, expanded newborn screening began in Estonia.

“For the first 12 months, it was conducted as a pilot project, during which we screened 13,643 newborns. During this period, the parents of 49 (i.e., 0.36%) children declined the screening,” said Reinson.

Since 2015, the expanded newborn screening is in the list of services financed by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. With the help of her colleagues, Reinson has screened 54,899 newborns in four years (2014–2017).

For this, all newborns had capillary blood drawn from the heel onto a filter paper between the 3rd and 5th day of life, which was dried and sent to the only laboratory in Estonia conducting the expanded newborn screening. This lab is located at the Tartu University Hospital Unified Centre of Laboratories Department of Clinical Genetics.

Most common metabolic disorders

“During four years, we have identified a congenital metabolic disorder in 29 newborns. Therefore, the prevalence of the studied disorders in Estonia is 1:1,893,” said Reinson sharing new knowledge. “By now, all of the children have received necessary treatment, lack complaints referring to congenital metabolic disorders and their development is age appropriate.”

The most commonly diagnosed condition in newborns was vitamin B12 deficiency with a prevalence of 1:2,959. “This was unexpected, as vitamin B12 deficiency has never been diagnosed to this extent in newborns. There are few related international publications and the results described in them are rather modest.”

Vitamin B12 is a simple compound, which plays an important part in haemotopoiesis, in the cell renewal process, as well as in the development of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiency is often expressed in the newborn as restlessness, sleep disorders, excessive increase or decrease in muscle tone, developmental delay and, in the worst-case scenario, as a seizure disorder.

Vitamin B12 deficiency in newborns is often caused by low levels of vitamin B12 in the mother’s organism, which indicates insufficient intake of meat during pregnancy and/or B12 malabsorption. Thus, the newborn does not get a sufficient vitamin stock for the first six months of life until they start eating meat themselves. Breast milk does not contain enough vitamin B12 necessary for the growth and development of a newborn either. Thus, in the first months of life, the B12 deficiency gets worse and symptoms indicating the deficiency start appearing.

“That’s why we have always emphasised to family physicians and paediatricians that if they suspect vitamin B12 deficiency in a newborn, it should always be checked with a blood test because treatment is simple and available and the child’s development may gain great advantage from it,” said Reinson. “As mentioned, a blood spot is taken between the 3rd and 5th day of life for screening, but this does not guarantee that the child’s vitamin B12 stores will not start declining at one month and that a deficiency with accompanying complaints will not develop by the third month.”

The second most prevalent group was composed of patients with hyperphenylalaninemia. Considering previous studies involving the Estonian population, this result was predictable for the researchers.

Hyperphenylalaninemias are hereditary metabolic disorders, which disable the body’s ability to break down phenylalanine – an amino acid that is a normal component of a natural protein. Its accumulation in the organism often causes severe mental retardation, but with early diagnosis, these diseases are treatable and the child’s development is normal.

In treated cases, patients with phenylketonuria attend normal schools and study under normal study programmes, and even graduate from higher education institutions if they wish. They have no restrictions in life but to avoid eating excessive natural proteins every day (incl. meat, eggs, milk and fish) and replace them with a special protein mix.

Karit Reinson defended her doctoral degree at the University of Tartu with her thesis “New Diagnostic Methods for Early Detection of Inborn Errors of Metabolism in Estonia” on 18 December 2018. She was supervised by a professor of clinical genetics at the UT, Katrin Õunap; her opponent was professor Kari Pulkki from Turku University Hospital.

The translation of this article from Estonian Public Broadcasting science news portal Novaator was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council. Source: http://researchinestonia.eu/

Sandra Sommer Press Officer tel +372 737 5681
mob +372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee


Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

UT IdeaLab’s spring semester starts with Idea Hackathon

2 weeks 4 days ago

On 28 February, UT IdeaLab organised an Idea Hackathon at Spark Hub to mark the start of a new semester of the Starter business ideas incubation programme. All students and recent graduates of all schools were welcome to pitch their business or project ideas and join other teams.

The teams will be working on their business ideas in the course of a semester-long programme that offers hands-on workshops and ends with Kaleidoskoop, the biggest business ideas competition in South Estonia, on 17 May at the Delta Business Conference. The Kaleidoskoop winner will get a chance to pitch at the University Startup World Cup in Copenhagen.

Last semester’s Kaleidoskoop winning team was TRIT, whose goal is to make the ordering of translation services easier and more convenient. The Starter programme gave the team confidence that their service is necessary and their idea feasible. “For the TRIT team, the Starter programme meant many “firsts” – the first time to share our idea with strangers, the first mentor meeting, the first contest, etc. Starter gave us a push to expand our comfort zone and boosted us to enter the entrepreneurship world,” said the TRIT team leader Eha Mäesalu, adding that although they needed to go on independently now, the IdeaLab and Starter people would always be there to help and advise.

Besides Starter, the IdeaLab will start a new E-Boat Accelerator programme, which aims to find e-solutions for healthcare. Entrepreneurial-minded teams can validate and pitch their ideas at the Cruise Hackathon in five Baltic Sea cities: Gdansk, Klaipeda, Riga, Stockholm and Tallinn. Application deadline is 13 March.

This spring is the fifth year for the international summer programme Network Globally, Act Locally (NGAL®), which also invites student teams to apply. Two teams from each participating university will be offered an opportunity to develop their ideas in an international setting, meet with mentors in Estonia and in the USA and at the end of the programme, take part in a pitching competition to win $3000. NGAL® is organised in cooperation with Tallinn University of Technology, College of Charleston, The Citadel and Nebraska Wesleyan University.

The Starter programme is funded by the European Social Fund, the E-Boat Accelerator programme is funded by EIT Health, and NGAL® is funded by Harry and Reba Huge Foundation.

Further information: Riin Lisett Rei, UT IdeaLab Marketing and Communications Manager, +372 5908 6451, riin.lisett.rei [ät] ut.ee

Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges to give lecture on contemporary security challenges in Europe

2 weeks 6 days ago

On Thursday, 7 March, retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, will give a lecture „The Contemporary Security Challenges Facing Europe” in the main building of University of Tartu.

Retired Lieutenant General Hodges will give the lecture as a part of the course "Power in International Politics" of the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies. Eoin Micheál McNamara, the lecturer in charge of the course, believes that Hodges, who only recently retired from active military service, offers valuable input for further strengthening the Estonian defence system and for making cooperation with NATO allies even stronger. “Hodges has been one of the main policy makers in NATO – he was the Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe from 2014 to 2017,” said McNamara.

Security issues concerning both Estonia and Europe will be addressed in the lecture and Hodges will elaborate on the current European security environment. He will focus on the ways NATO has adapted to the changed situation, for example whether and how NATO training or military cooperation and NATO presence in member states should be rethought or improved. The Baltic States and Eastern Europe will be in special spotlight.

Hodges is the former Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe and a strategic expert at The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He recently joined the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) as a Non-Resident Research Fellow. At ICDS, Hodges focuses on analysing the possibilities for strengthening military activities in NATO's eastern flank. In addition to holding several positions in Europe, Hodges has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea. In 2015, Hodges was awarded the 2nd class Order of the Cross of the Eagle by the President of the Republic of Estonia.

UT will host the General Lieutenant in cooperation with the Baltic Defence College. The lecture will be held at 10:00–12:00 in room 140 of the main building of University of Tartu (Ülikooli 18).

Further information: Olga Bogdanova, UT Programme Director of the European Union and Russia Studies MA curriculum, 737 6375, olga.bogdanova [ät] ut.ee

Category: Continuing CoursesUniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Business and management and education programmes at University of Tartu place high in international rankings

3 weeks ago

16 subjects taught at University of Tartu have made it to the international university rankings published in late February. This year two new University of Tartu subjects have entered the rankings of consulting firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) – education ranked in the top 251–300 and business and management in the top 401–450.

In QS World University Rankings by subject, the highest ranking subject at University of Tartu (UT) was political sciences and international studies (101–150). Linguistics, philosophy, geography and agriculture and forestry follow, all ranking in the top 151–200.

According to the head of UT's Institute of Education Äli Leijen, their researchers cooperate with international partners, participating in numerous research and development projects that often lead to publishing well-cited high quality articles. Educational researchers at UT actively contribute to international research communities and hold leading positions in both professional organisations and editorial teams of scientific journals. Leijen noted that these activities might be the reason why the institute has received international recognition.

"The strategic advantage of the School of Economics and Business Administration is offering integrated studies. We hope to work together with computer scientists, mathematicians and statisticians to implement this vision in the future as well," head of the School Kadri Ukrainski explained.

For several years now, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies has been prioritising increasing quality of studies and research through internationalisation. "It has been a long process and we are now beginning to reap the benefits," head of institute Mihkel Solvak says. "QS ratings really incorporate so-called academic reputation within disciplines. Our high ranking shows that the political sciences and international relations programmes at UT are highly valued. We can really offer international and highly competitive education."

Besides political sciences and international studies that have arisen to the top, biology has also improved in ranking (301–350 in 2018, 251–300 in 2019).

Other top subjects at UT include agriculture and forestry, geography, communication and media studies, linguistics, philosophy (151–200), law, modern languages, English language and literature (251–300), computer sciences, medicine (351–400), chemistry (451–500), physics and astronomy (551–600).

QS that comprises some of the most well-known international university rankings has also been ranking universities by subject (altogether 48 subjects) since 2011. The number of ranked universities per subject varies between 50 (e.g. dentistry, library management and veterinary) and 600 (e.g. chemistry, physics and computer sciences).

When ranking universities, QS considers reputation among researchers and employers as well as bibliometrics from the Scopus database. The percentual importance of the indicators vary across subjects – e.g. in arts and design only reputation is considered but in case of natural sciences with large publication volumes, bibliometrics matter more.

In 2019 students can apply for 27 English programmes, including two BA, one integrated and 24 MA programmes in University of Tartu. All info on English programmes is available on the UT website. Please turn to the admissions office for any follow-up questions.

Further information:
Äli Leijen, UT Head of the Institute of Education, +372 737 6441, ali.leijen [ät] ut.ee   
Kadri Ukrainski, UT Head of the School of Economics and Business Administration, +372 737 6360, kadri.ukrainski [ät] ut.ee
Mihkel Solvak, UT Head of Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, 737 6372, mihkel.solvak [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

The Academy of Security Sciences and the University of Tartu enter into a joint contract for construction of a study and accommodation building in Narva

3 weeks 4 days ago

On Thursday, February 28, 2019, the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences and the University of Tartu signed a contract with the construction company Nordecon for the construction of a Narva Learning Center. Besides the cadets, also the staff of the Police and Border Guard Board, as well as the students of Narva College of the University of Tartu, will start using the study, training and accommodation building.  In addition, the construction will include a sports complex with a swimming pool, which is also open to the public.

The Narva Learning Center of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences will be managed by the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences together with the Police and Border Guard Board and the University of Tartu. Accommodation facilities and shared lounges for cadets and officers of the Police and Border Guard Board, study classes and a shooting range have been planned for the building.

Toomas Asser, the Rector of the University of Tartu, confirmed that the university had waited several years for the construction of a new building in Narva.  “By establishing a new student home, we will further secure our presence in the border town. Of course, we will further develop the opportunities for studying at Narva College, so that more and more young people from Narva, and from elsewhere in Estonia and abroad will come here,” Asser said.

Gerd Müller, the chairman of the board of Nordecon AS who is going to build the complex, said the complex to be built is bound to be very interesting because, similarly to the new house of the Tallinn Academy of Security Sciences, the complex will accommodate parts of multiple different purposes. Müller is confident that the new study and accommodation building will be welcome both among the residents of Narva and the students and staff of the Academy and the College.

According to Katri Raig, the Minister of the Interior of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, the construction of the newly opened house in Tallinn and a new study building in Narva are one of the largest real estate investments in the country in the last few years. “The state values education and Ida-Viru County and Narva,” Raik emphasized. “The sports center and the eight-lane pool will also be open to the residents of the city. Completion of the building is scheduled for summer 2020, which will create a couple of dozens of new jobs and bring hundreds of cadets to practice and study each year. Thus, we will grow the Estonian statehood in Narva and make the city even more secure,” said the Minister.

The 11,952 m2 study and accommodation facility to be erected at Kerese Street will be completed in September 2020 and will cost EUR 15.4 million (excluding VAT). The construction is financed from the state budget and an investment of 3.7 million euros (excluding VAT) by the University of Tartu into the accommodation complex. The author of the architectural solution of the study complex is architectural firm Kolm Pluss Üks. Following their idea, they conglomerated all public and semi-public spaces on the ground floor and placed the accommodation facilities above the street level. The atrium passing through the entire building has been subdivided into activity and recreation areas at the ground level. The outside view is dominated by various open and closed stairs.

Signing the contract in Narva at Kerese Street 14 at the site of the future building  took place on Thursday,  February 28 at 3 pm Toomas Asser, Rector of Tartu University, Tarvo Kruup, East Prefect of the Police and Border Guard Board, Marek Link, Rector of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, Gerd Müller, Chairman of the Board of Nordecon, Katri Raik, Minister of Internal Affairs and Tarmo Tammiste, Mayor of Narva, were present.

Further information: Heiki Pagel, UT Estates Office Head of Unit, 737 5110, 503 2021, heiki.pagel [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Prototype of future phone completed at University of Tartu

3 weeks 6 days ago

Physicists at the University of Tartu have been working on a graphene-based sensor for the last five years. This sensor, to be integrated into mobile phones, will actively monitor toxic substances in the ambient air and recommend to the person carrying it to choose a safer route. The prototype has now been completed and will be introduced to mobile phone manufacturers at a major event in Barcelona.

“Whereas earlier we were only able to test it in the laboratory, now we have the chance to test the technology in the real environment – outdoors,” said Raivo Jaaniso, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tartu. “There’s still a long way to go, and since we’re getting closer to our goal, the need for investment is increasing quite a lot.”

The World Mobile Congress, which is being held in Barcelona from 25-28 February, is the largest fair in the world showcasing future technology. The aims of the researchers on the graphene project are to establish closer relations with mobile phone manufacturers on site and to continue development work. “Our next goal is to make a new prototype in which everything’s considerably smaller and from which it’ll be just one more step to the finished product,” explained Jaaniso. Among other things, long-term stability still needs to be thoroughly tested. According to Jaaniso, 30-40 people should test the device in daily use during the pilot project.

The sensor developed by the researchers at the University of Tartu differs from others available on the market in terms of its sensitivity. It also works successfully outside when the concentration of toxic substances is low, warning the person carrying it against, for example, vehicle exhaust emissions. “It works in more or less the same way as the human nose,” said Jaaniso.

The researchers at the University of Tartu are developing a graphene-based sensor within the framework of the pan-European research partnership project ‘Graphene Flagship’. With a budget of €1 billion, the project aims to develop graphene-based future technology solutions and brings together researchers from 23 countries. Besides the sensor the Estonians are working on, touch screens, superbatteries, smart clothes and 5G Internet hardware are also being developed.

Further information: Raivo Jaaniso, Senior Research Fellow, University of Tartu, +372 50 74 752, raivo.jaaniso [ät] ut.ee

Category: EntrepreneurshipResearchPress releaseERR Novaator
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Compared to other European countries, Estonian children experience fewer Internet threats

1 month ago

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Multinational research network EU Kids Online has published the preliminary results of a pan-European survey on children’s Internet use. The results show that compared to other European countries, Estonia is the only one where children's exposure to Internet threats has decreased in the last eight years.

Children from European countries who participated in the survey are most likely to experience risks related to spyware and viruses. This is also the most common data problem for Estonian children: 16% of children and young people aged 9–17 had been exposed to these risks during the year preceding the survey. This proportion is the second highest in the comparison of Estonia, Italy, Norway, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – the five countries from which comparable data are already available to researchers.

Compared to 2010, the proportion of children exposed to spyware and viruses has dropped significantly in all countries surveyed. In Estonia, this figure has also decreased almost three times. "This may be due to technological change: children are now mainly using smartphones to access the Internet," said Veronika Kalmus, Professor of Sociology at the University of Tartu. "However, children may not always be aware of all malware issues," she admitted.

Children and young people in Europe are less exposed to other data risks. For example, 3–10% of them claimed that they spent too much money on in-app purchases and online games. In Estonia, this percentage is on an average level, 5%.

In comparison with Italy, Norway, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Estonia is the only country where the percentage of 9–16-year-olds who have lost money by being cheated on the Internet has declined in eight years (from 4% to 2%). During this period, the proportion of children whose password has been used by someone else to access their personal information has also decreased considerably (from 13% to 5%).

“The current international comparison shows that promoting safe Internet use has begun to bear fruit in Estonia,” said Veronika Kalmus. "This is particularly evident in comparison with the Czech Republic, where the social context is much like ours but the level of child data risks has not decreased in eight years," Kalmus added.

The EU Kids Online survey was conducted from 2017 to 2018 in fourteen European countries. The results of the survey in Estonia were presented by researchers of the University of Tartu on 5 February.

Researchers of the University of Tartu in collaboration with Turu-uuringute AS interviewed 1020 Internet-using children aged 9–17 and one of their parents in summer 2018. The survey with a nationally representative sample focused on children’s and parents’ Internet use, digital competences and awareness of online risks.

The EU Kids Online survey was conducted for the first time in 2010 in 25 European countries. The results of the study will be used to increase awareness and security in children’s Internet use and to work out recommendations and guidelines for that.

Further information: Veronika Kalmus, UT Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Social Studies, head of research group, 5662 3583, veronika.kalmus [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Scholarships and badges of distinction awarded at UT concert ceremony

1 month ago

On Friday, 22 February at 12 o'clock, a concert ceremony is held at the university assembly hall to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, award the stipendees of the Ernst Jaakson and Peeter Tulviste memorial scholarships and present the UT's badges of distinction.

Ernst Jaakson's memorial scholarship that supports UT PhD students, research fellows and teaching staff abroad is awarded at the concert. Ernst Jaakson's scholarship is the largest known privately funded scholarship to be awarded to students and research fellows.

Peeter Tulviste's memorial scholarship is also awarded for the second time. The stipend aims to support UT students and employees with MA or PhD degrees who have significantly contributed to understanding the cultural nature of human beings.

Traditionally, the Rector also hands out badges of distinction to recognise university employees for their great work.

Head of Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies and Senior Research Fellow in technology research Mihkel Solvak will present a talk titled "A Bright Country and Fast Citizens". Guests will be welcomed by Urmas Klaas, Mayor of Tartu, and Sirelin Sillamaa, a first year PhD student in molecular and cell biology at the Faculty of Science and Technology.

The Tartu Academic Male Choir, conducted by Kuno Kerge, will perform during musical breaks. The ceremony will conclude with a performance by brass ensemble Brassical.

All employees and students of the University of Tartu are welcome to attend the ceremony. UTTV will live stream the event.

More information: Kady Sõstar, UT Senior Specialist, 737 5685, 511 9188, kady.sostar [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release

Academic Jaan Einasto awarded the UT Grand Medal

1 month ago

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Academic and astronomer Jaan Einasto will turn 90 on 23 February. Before his birthday, the University of Tartu Senate recognised Jaan Einasto's exceptional scientific contribution by awarding him the Great Medal. Rector Toomas Asser will present the medal on 21 February at a festive dinner organised for the international symposium held to honour Einasto.

Jaan Einasto is one of the discoverers of dark matter and the cosmic web. He researches the makeup and development of the universe, including the structure and dynamics of galactic systems and galaxies. Einasto has published more than 300 research papers during his career and written several books.

Jaan Einasto was born on 23 February 1929 in Tartu. He graduated from Tartu Secondary School no. 1 and studied at the University of Tartu from 1947 to 1952. After graduation, Einasto began working as a research fellow at the Tartu Observatory (back then the Institute of Physics and Astronomy of the Academy of Sciences). Einasto is currently working at the UT Observatory's Department of Physics of Galaxies and Cosmology as a scientific advisor and continues publishing papers in international scientific journals.

Einasto has been a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences since 1981. He has been awarded several national research awards, the 2nd Class Badge of the Order of the National Coat of Arms , the Marcel Grossmann Award, the Viktor Ambartsumjan Prize and the Gruber Cosmology Prize. Einasto is an Honorary Doctor at both the University of Tartu and University of Turku. He is an Honorary Citizen of Tartu.

An international symposium  "Einasto's profile" is held from 20–22 February in Tartu and Tõravere to celebrate academic Jaan Einasto's birthday. A festive dinner is held on 21 February at 17.00 in the White Hall of the university museum.

More information: Antti Tamm, Senior Research Fellow at the UT Department of Physics of Galaxies and Cosmology, Organiser of the Symposium, 5699 6693, 737 4531antti.tamm [ät] ut.ee (, )

Category: University

Student Startup Camp winner DreamField fights over-fertilisation

1 month 1 week ago

On 5–9 February, the Student Startup Camp was held in Tartu, where student teams developed their ideas into working prototypes. The winner of the pitching competition was the DreamField team.

On the last day of the entrepreneurship boot camp, teams pitched their ideas and introduced the prototypes they had developed during the past five days. The winning team DreamField, led by Juri Volovin, found a solution to the over-fertilisation problem using a novel method of soil analysis. The team helps farmers to increase production and earn more while saving the environment.

Under the leadership of Robyn Laider, MapTavern won second place. MapTavern is a search portal for Dungeons and Dragons players that helps collect and categorise playing cards so that players could quickly and easily find the card they want.

Student Startup Camp is an annual event that took place for the sixth time, with 120 students attending this year. On the first day of the camp, everyone had a chance to pitch their ideas in 90 seconds. All in all, 18 ideas were presented. Each participant was able to choose which team to join and finally, 14 teams started developing their ideas.

During the camp, students were supported by mentors. Inspirational talks were held by Jüri Kaljundi (Weekdone), Mihkel Pukk (Garage48), Maret Kruve (Garage48, Pipedrive), Stenver Jerkku (eAgronom), Jaana Metsamaa (Pipedrive), Siim Pruulman (Mooncascade), Martin Vares (Fractory), Marelle Ellen (Startup Day) and Kai Isand (Garage48).

The event was co-organised by Garage48, the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu and UT IdeaLab. The event was supported by HITSA and IT Academy. 

Further information: Riin Lisett Rei, UT IdeaLab Marketing and Communications Manager, 737 4817, riin.lisett.rei [ät] ut.ee


Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Meelis Luht resigns from his post as Director of Administration of the University of Tartu

1 month 2 weeks ago

Meelis Luht, Director of Administration of the University of Tartu, has made an agreement with Rector Toomas Asser to resign from his post after the Riigikogu elections.

“Having been an active person all through my life, I feel I have the drive and the will to represent the interests of the residents of Tartu and of the university in the Riigikogu,” Luht explained his reasons for resignation. “There are a number of wise and good people at the university from whom I have learnt a lot, and I am going to take all this knowledge with me. I will gladly listen to all suggestions on how to improve the university’s life at the national level.”

Meelis Luht took the office of director of administration in August 2017. During his term of office, he contributed to the completion of the renovation of the University of Tartu Library and construction of the academic and sports building in Ujula street, as well as to starting the building of the University of Tartu Delta complex. Rector Toomas Asser thanked and acknowledged Luht for his work.

Meelis Luht will have his annual leave from 14–24 February. His last working day at the University of Tartu is 3 March. “I thank all my colleagues for cooperation. I will definitely miss it and I will closely follow the university’s progress in the future,” Luht added.

The university will announce a competition to find a new director of administration. Until the end of the competition, the duties of the director of administration will be performed by Legal Counsel for Economic and Estates Management Kstina Vallimäe.

The director of administration of the University of Tartu organises the work of Procurement Office, Information Technology Office, Administrative Office, Estates Office, Human Resources Office and Marketing and Communication Office. In addition, the UT Academic Sports Club, Tartu Student Village and Tartu Students’ Club fall under the responsibility of the director of administration.

Further information: Meelis Luht, UT Director of Administration, 737 6501, 511 6946, meelis.luht [ät] ut.ee 16.00 Normal 0 21 false false false ET X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

Category: UniversityPress release

University of Tartu released four new promotional videos

2 months ago

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  The Marketing Office of the University of Tartu has released four new official videos which introduce the university to foreigners who have no previous knowledge of it.  

The themes of the videos are: general introduction, science, study opportunities, infrastructure. It is possible to use the videos while visiting universities abroad, introducing the university to prospective students, during international conferences in Tartu etc.

The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

You can view the videos:





You can download the videos:

UT website: https://www.ut.ee/en/university/general/257377

More information: Elis Rebane, International Marketing Specialist, 737 6112, elis.rebane [ät] ut.ee


Category: University

UT plans to take Estonia’s startups to the next level

2 months ago

The biggest early-stage business festival in the Baltics, the Startup Day is held in the University of Tartu Sports Hall on 23–25 January 2019. The University of Tartu focuses on the topics related to the development of research-intensive startups at the festival. The UT programme is titled “Science to Business”.

The programme of the University of Tartu combines science and business. “We aim to help link the university’s top-class science with business and society, to inspire people to launch enterprises, to support the innovative ideas and projects of research-intensive startups and spin-offs in cooperation with partner universities,” said Erik Puura, Vice Rector for Development of the University of Tartu. “The long term goal of the partnership is international cooperation to enhance the survival and ensure the success of science-based companies,” Puura added.

The events of the “Science to Business” programme take place on 24 and 25 January. The programme offers presentations by experts and seminars on the role of universities in the development of science- and technology-based startups. The programme of the University of Tartu focuses specifically on starting a research-intensive business and the choices and challenges it entails.

On 25 January, the “Science to Business” discussions are held on the Spotlight stage.

From 12.45 to 13:25, a panel of experts talk about the challenges and opportunities of turning a science project into business. They also discuss whether universities should push their spin-offs to business.

The speakers include:

  • Ben Miles, CEO of Spin Up Science Bristol (United Kingdom),
  • Erik Puura, Vice Rector for Development of the University of Tartu,
  • Mikko Pohjola, Collaboration Manager at the University of Turku (Finland),
  • Luke Robinson, Director of Post Urban Ventures (United Kingdom).

The panel is moderated by Lars Jonsson, representative of the Uppsala University Holding Company of Sweden.    

Students, researchers and young entrepreneurs of the University of Tartu present new exciting business ideas on the University of Tartu pitching stage on 24–25 January.

The Startup Day festival results from the cooperation of various organisations of Tartu. The festival is organised by Startup Day MTÜ, the University of Tartu, the City Government of Tartu, Startup Estonia and the startup community of Tartu.

For more information and tickets please visit the Startup Day website.

Further information:

Erik Puura, Vice Rector for Development of the University of Tartu, 506 9882, erik.puura [ät] ut.ee
Aivar Pere, Entrepreneurship Adviser of the University of Tartu, 515 8498, aivar.pere [ät] ut.ee

Category: Press release
Mari Liiver (liiver)

University of Tartu to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National University in 2019

2 months ago

The opening assembly of the University of Tartu of the Republic of Estonia on 1 December 1919 marked the establishment of an Estonian-language university that was above all designed for Estonian students and to serve Estonian society. The centenary of the national university is celebrated throughout the year with a nation-wide cultural programme, an opinion festival and the largest gathering of alumni to date. The anniversary year draws to a close in December.

According to Rector Toomas Asser, this year, the University of Tartu does not only celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national university but of Estonian higher education in general. When people talk about the national university, they mainly focus on preserving the Estonian language and culture, but the university's responsibilities are considerably more varied. "The national university means an Estonian university. We need to foster a knowledge-based society and economy and to maintain and promote democratic rule of law and nationhood," said Rector Asser.

The programme, which is regularly updated over the year, is available on the anniversary website at 100.ut.ee. The year will include presentations of books introducing the university's history and its researchers as well as historical and art exhibitions. The university's largest alumni gathering to date, Lähme koos! (Let’s Go Together!), takes place on 18 May. The meeting includes the premiere of the restored version of Theodor Luts' documentary Alma Mater Tartuensis (1932). The teams behind the organisation of the 100th anniversaries of the national university and the Republic of Estonia will join hands at the Opinion Festival in Paide in August in order to invite the researchers of Estonian universities to talk about the future of Estonia and to have a more open discussion with society.

The 100th academic year of the Estonian-language university will kick off on 2 September with a concert assembly at Kassitoome in Tartu. In autumn, Estonian Television will show a documentary series that explores the current role of the national university via a historical retrospective. The Bank of Estonia will issue a commemorative two-euro circulation coin and the Estonian postal services a stamp in celebration of the anniversary.

The festivities culminate in late November and early December. The University of Tartu Museum will open a new exhibition about the university's history and introduce a book dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Estonian national university. Composer Pärt Uusberg's new work "...ja tuulelaeval valgusest on aerud..." will premiere in Vanemuine Concert Hall. The programme also features the traditional torch-lit procession and the Vikerlaste varjuvald light show in the ruins of Tartu Cathedral on Toome Hill. The anniversary ball will take place on 30 November at the Estonian National Museum. The anniversary assembly will be held in the assembly hall in the University's main building on 1 December.

The anniversary celebrations of the national university are dedicated to Estonia and the Estonian language. The events and festivities planned for the anniversary year express the university's thanks and serve as a gift for all people of Estonia.

The Estonian University of Tartu was born with the republic. After the end of World War II in December 1918, the German army handed over the University of Tartu to Peeter Põld, representative of the Estonian Government. Estonian became the university's official language and once preparations were made, it opened its doors to 351 students, including 305 Estonians, on 6 October 1919. The university's opening assembly took place on 1 December 1919 when negotiations for the Treaty of Tartu had not even begun.

More information:
Kadri Asmer, Project Manager for National University 100, kadri.asmer [ät] ut.ee, 529 9994
Andres Soosaar, Chairman of the Organisation Panel of National University 100, andres.soosaar [ät] ut.ee, 5919 1116

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Application for admission to English-taught curricula now open

2 months 3 weeks ago

On 2 January, application for admission to English-taught bachelor’s and master’s curricula was opened for international students. For Estonian students, application for admission starts on 1 February.

In 2019, students are admitted to 27 English-taught curricula: two bachelor’s, one integrated bachelor’s and master’s, and 24 master’s curricula. Nearly all the programmes offer tuition waiver scholarships that cover the tuition fee. Read more about the English-taught curricula here.

The deadline for application to master’s curricula is 15 March.

The deadline for application to bachelor’s and integrated bachelor’s and master’s curricula is 15 April.

International students can file their application in DreamApply and Estonian students in SAIS.

In 2019, four new English-taught master’s programmes are opened: Bioengineering, Sound and Visual Technology, Materials Science and Technology, and Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Bioengineering: This interdisciplinary programme covers the application of biological systems and engineering calculations, and educates specialists who can contribute to the development of research-intensive industry in Estonia. The curriculum places great emphasis on the acquisition of practical skills. The graduates will have a wide range of specialisation and labour market opportunities in the sectors of industrial or medical biotechnology, environmental technology, bioeconomy, valorisation of bioresources, energy, food industry and high-technology agriculture.

Sound and Visual Technology: The curriculum includes two fields of study: sound technology and visual technology. In the course of the studies, students acquire thorough knowledge of sound or lighting design and learn the specifics of major events. Students of either specialisation may also choose courses and gain in-depth knowledge in the other field. Besides the core specialities, the students will develop competence in team management, project management and entrepreneurship, and acquire knowledge in field-specific cultural theories and terminology.

Materials Science and Technology: The materials science module provides students with an overview of the structure of matter, technologies of the synthesis of materials, research methods, applications and materials development. The entrepreneurship module gives basic knowledge of entrepreneurship and includes seminars on setting up and development of small business. Electives offer students in-depth studies in a specific field of materials science developed at the University of Tartu, or acquisition of further knowledge in economics. In the course of practical training, students work in a company or in a research laboratory to gain professional work experience. Work on the master’s thesis usually starts in the first semester, when the student chooses the supervisor and laboratory.

Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies: This interdisciplinary programme covers the economy and business, political development, demographic situation and migration in Asian and Middle Eastern countries. In the course of the studies, students learn about the culture and religion of the chosen region and analyse the impact of traditions on the present-day world. As separate themes, the programme also comprises globalisation and the contacts of Asia and Middle East with Europe, North America and other regions of the world. Special emphasis is laid on studying the language of the chosen country of region.

Further information:

UT Student Admissions
372 737 6031, 737 5153
E-mail: sisseastumine [ät] ut.ee
Ülikooli 18-132, Tartu

Category: Admission
Mari Liiver (liiver)

IdeaLab brings best Ukrainian student teams to Startup Day

3 months ago

The finals of the students’ business ideas development programme Yep!Starter took place on 17 December in Kyiv. The winner of the main award, tickets and trip to Startup Day was Fonetify, whose browser extension helps to pronounce English text correctly.

The author of winning idea Serh Kruchok said that the Yep!Starter programme helped them to develop the idea. “Learning wasn’t always easy, but we got the necessary knowledge and contacts to launch our idea. We are very happy about the win and the opportunity to present our idea at Startup Day in Estonia.”

Yep!Starter is a hands-on training programme aiming to provide practical skills for developing ideas into business models.

The programme in Kyiv is built on the best practice of the UT IdeaLab and it is implemented in the framework of the practical entrepreneurship education project targeted at Ukrainian universities.

UT IdeaLab collaborates with “Platform for Innovative Partnership”, a local NGO that is developing an inter-university entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In Autumn nearly 200 students applied for the Yep!Starter programme and half of them were accepted. In October, 15 ambitious teams were formed of whom nine made it to the finals.

Maret Ahonen, IdeaLab Manager and member of the jury, said that the teams had made great progress in developing their ideas and performed professionally when answering questions and explaining their future plans to the judges. “The atmosphere was festive and you could feel excitement and tension at the same time, because all the teams wanted to do their best and win the main prize – the trip to Tartu to the Startup Day pitching stage.”

During the spring semester, 18 teams participated in the programme and the winner was team GiftHub, whose four members also won tickets to the Startup Day.

In total, students from ten universities participated in the programme, including Kyiv National Economic University, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and the National Aviation University.

According to Andriy Zaikin, CEO of the UT IdeaLab’s partner organisation, the cooperation with UT IdeaLab has made it possible to improve the methodology of the pre-incubation programme. “Together with colleagues from Estonia we have inspired a huge number of Ukrainian students,” said Zaikin. They received more than 500 applications and 33 startup teams completed the programme. “It was a great experience for us and for the students who participated in the programme. I believe we will continue cooperation with the University of Tartu next year.”

The project "Transforming Estonian Best Practice of Practical Entrepreneurship Studies to Ukrainian Universities" is funded from the development and humanitarian aid instruments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Additional information: Piret Arusaar, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Starter Program Manager, 516 2945, piret.arusaar [ät] ut.ee



Category: EntrepreneurshipUniversity
Made Laas (madelaas)

South-Estonian students’ 10 best business ideas

3 months 1 week ago

On 13 December, the pre-selection round of South Estonia’s biggest student business ideas competition Kaleidoskoop took place at Tartu V Conference Centre. 36 teams pitched their business ideas to judges, who selected the 10 best teams that will go to the Kaleidoskoop finals at the Startup Day business festival on 24 January.

The 10 best teams are:

MediBee – online queue and web triage for Emergency Rooms;

Pick and Drive – a platform which unites driving students who seek for cheaper driving lessons and driving instructors who want to earn extra money;

Rosella Kunst – website which connects clients and artists. Clients can commission an art piece based on a photo or an idea;

Stargazing – offers the opportunity to seek for the spots with the least light pollution and cloud coverage to gaze at the stars;

The Joy of Giving – main vision is to contribute to reducing relative poverty in Estonia by building an E-commerce website where people will be able to order their lunch and get it delivered to their doorstep. Additionally, the company will send a box of meals to poor families in Estonia;

TRIT –  makes translators more visible, translation more resource-efficient and placing orders easier;

VEINC – is an innovative wine course for all wine lovers. It is based on a subscription box service that delivers 3 bottles of wine to your door every month, with all the educational information;

Vetik –helps cosmetic producers substitute the unhealthy colorants with a new red colorant, which is natural, vegan and can have skin rejuvenating properties;

ViralSAT – combines satellite images with crowdsourced images of disaster events to provide better information for critical decision-making;

VRE – a mobile app for real estate agencies to create 360 tours with just a few clicks and without any extra tech.

The Kaleidoskoop business ideas competition took place for the 11th time and 36 teams presented their business ideas. Each student team had three minutes to pitch their idea to judges who also asked questions.

“It is always good to see a lot of young people who want to change the world or help to develop fields they are passionate about,” said judge Martin Vares. “There were teams who knew what they needed to do next and there were teams who needed to figure that out, but each idea had a value. I encourage all teams to keep on working to bring their idea to life. Collect feedback and rejections and in the end, you will be successful.”

The competition was organised together with “Startup Talks” – the Artificial Intelligence conference. The judges were Aivar Pere (UT business advisor), Martin Vares (CEO of Fractory), Sven Parkel (general manager of Tartu Biotechnology Park), Giga Sesitashvili (business analyst of Go Motors), Iuliia Trabskaia (research fellow of entrepreneurship), Laura Tomson (UT foreign funds coordinator) and Marelle Ellen (marketing manager of sTARTUp Day).   

In the finals the top 10 teams will compete to win awards, for example participation in the European Innovation Academy in Portugal, tickets to the startup and technology conference Latitude59, financial awards from Tartu City Government or a 2-month access to the coworking space Startup Hub.

The Starter programme business ideas competition is funded by the European Social Fund and EIT Health.

Contact: Riin Lisett Rei, UT IdeaLab marketing and communication manager, 5908 6451, riin.lisett.rei [ät] ut.ee




Category: EntrepreneurshipUniversity
Made Laas (madelaas)

University of Tartu increases participation in EIT partnerships

3 months 2 weeks ago

On 30 November, the University of Tartu became a full member in the EIT Health network of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), and also participates in two new Knowledge and Innovation Communities that were announced on 5 December: EIT Manufacturing and EIT Urban Mobility. EIT funding to the new innovation communities will increase over the next three years from four to 80 million euros per year.

Full membership in EIT Health gives additional opportunities to UT researchers and students to initiate new development projects in collaboration with the leading research partners and enterprises of Europe.

In 2019, the EIT Manufacturing and EIT Urban Mobility partnerships will establish five or six regional innovation hubs and lay down the governance, financing and education models.

UT research groups can participate in innovation calls together with the network’s business partners; students can participate in pan-European business idea competitions and study according to the joint programmes of KIC universities and enterprises.

UT Vice Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil underlined that joining the EIT initiatives is a part of the university’s broader strategy to integrate into the research and innovation partnerships of the European Union. “To increase the external funding of the University of Tartu, we need to more actively participate in European partnerships. The university recently joined the European Big Data Value Association and plans to join more networks,” said Vassil.

Full membership in EIT Health is a great recognition to the University of Tartu’s capacity to offer unique solutions in the field of health. “It is not easy to be accepted to this network – we need to demonstrate the strengths of the university and clearly show the benefit our participation would give to the partnership,” said Kristjan Vassil.

“In the field of health, Estonia has the unique potential to use the data of the gene bank and the state e-health registries for developing new personalised medicine services and products, and use the EIT’s help to scale these solutions up to the European level,” Vassil said, as an example.

The UT Institute of Technology develops artificial muscles in cooperation with Philips, and various other educational and development projects have been carried out.

Full membership enables to undertake larger and more complex projects and also involve other UT research groups in these activities.

EIT Health Information Day on 14 December

The University of Tartu organises an information day on 14 December to introduce EIT Health’s activities and the involvement opportunities for researchers, students and enterprises in the health sector.

At the information day, held in Tartu, Riia 23, room 105, an overview is given of funding measures and application rules.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is a EU-financed independent agency that strengthens Europe’s competitiveness and innovation capacity in high value-added manufacturing and service sectors.

EIT nurtures entrepreneurial talent and supports innovative ideas by establishing regional Knowledge and Innovation Communities, which comprise leading companies, universities and research centres. 

Further information: Taivo Raud, Head of Grant Office, 737 6193, 5645 6580, taivo.raud [ät] ut.ee


Category: EntrepreneurshipUniversityResearch
Made Laas (madelaas)

Kaleidoskoop is waiting for exciting business ideas

3 months 2 weeks ago

On 13th of December at V Conference Centre takes place South-Estonia’s biggest business ideas competition Kaleidoskoop pre-selection round. All student teams with business or project ideas are welcome to apply. Registration is open until 11th of December at UT IdeaLab’s webpage.

From Kaleidoskoop pre-selection round 10 best teams will be selected to go to Kaleidoskoop Finals at Startup Day on 24th of January.

Top 10 will compete to win awards like participation in the European Innovation Academy in Portugal, tickets to startup and technology conference Latitude59, financial awards from Tartu City Government or 2-month access to co-working space Startup Hub. In addition, two Starter teams will get to pitch at the Starter national business ideas competition the same day.

All business and project ideas are welcome to apply for Kaleidoskoop. Half of the team members need to be students from university or school. Each team will get 3 minutes to pitch their idea and after that a few minutes to answer questions from judges. At pre-selection round, a pitch can be either in English or Estonian but during the finals, all teams must pitch in English.

Last year at Startup Day team Decomer Technology, that is working on polymer capsules that contain honey and dissolve in water, won both Kaleidoskoop and Starter pitching competitions. After that, they got 4th place at the biggest Estonian business ideas competition Ajujaht. Currently, they are developing their product and were selected among top 10 at Prototron Fund.

Kaleidoskoop takes place together with Startup AI (Artificial Intelligence) conference at the V Conference Centre. It is the second event of Startup Talks conference series and its main topic is a realistic view of AI.

More information and registration at the UT IdeaLab webpage.

The Starter programme is funded by the European Social Fund

Contact: Riin Lisett Rei, UT IdeaLab marketing and communication manager, 5908 6451, riin.lisett.rei [ät] ut.ee




Category: EntrepreneurshipUniversity
Made Laas (madelaas)
26.03.2019 - 16:03
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