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HealthTurku receives 3 million euro funding for the development of artificial intelligence methods

  • PRIVASA project led by the University of Turku develops artificial intelligence methods for the safe utilization of sensitive data in the health sector
  • The project promotes the growth of Finnish health technology businesses in the global data market
  • The consortium includes 3 research institutes and 12 corporate partners

Business Finland has granted EUR 3 million in funding for the PRIVASA project led by the University of Turku, which is developing artificial intelligence methods for the safe utilization of sensitive data in the health sector. In the project also participate Turku University of Applied Sciences, VTT, PerkinElmer, BCB Medical and several other companies.

The privacy-aware algorithms of the tools produced in the PRIVASA project convert personal data into a protected data format.

The aim of the project is to accelerate the product development of companies operating in international markets by producing anonymous, individual-level health data for the needs of companies’ development and innovation activities. The privacy-aware algorithms of the tools produced in the PRIVASA project convert personal data into a format where their use for medical research, testing and validation is possible while respecting data protection.

– Project actors want to be involved in creating a positive climate for the use of health data, diversifying health services, clarifying data protection regulations, and streamlining data management processes. The goal is to promote international business and exports based on health data, says Sampo Sammalisto, Director of Business Finland’s Personalized Health Finland program.

– High-quality data is the lifeblood of development and innovation activities, but currently Finnish companies are not able to utilize valuable register data effectively. Synthetic data meets the needs of companies without compromising data protection, says Antti Airola, Assistant Professor of Health Technology, who is leading the project together with Tapio Pahikkala, Assistant Professor of Data Analytics at the Department of Computing of the University of Turku.

– The PRIVASA project is a great example of the role of research in the new Faculty of Technology at the University of Turku: it is based on strong IT skills, but the application and effects of technical solutions raise own challenging research issues in other disciplines. Utilization of health data requires building trust between its owners, administrators, and users, says Jaakko Järvi, Dean of the Faculty of Technology.

In addition to the Department of Computing at the University of Turku, the project also involves the Faculty of Medicine, the Turku School of Economics and the Faculty of Law, which bring expertise in ethics, corporate responsibility and legislation to the project. Turku University of Applied Sciences and VTT will complement the consortium, especially with regard to artificial intelligence models applied to imaging data.

In the project, Turku University of Applied Sciences is developing artificial intelligence methods that protect sensitive health and imaging data. The machine learning algorithms being built at Turku University of Applied Sciences produce synthetic data based on various real patient data. The Turku University of Applied Sciences’ share is led by Elina Kontio, Doctor of Nursing Science and Health Technology Research Group Leader, together with Mojtaba Jafaritad, Principal Lecturer.

Turku Science Park Ltd has played a key role in building this partner network.

– The project further strengthens Health Campus Turku role as a developer of solutions based on synthetic but correct health data – and utilizing it – in Finland and Europe, sums up Janne Lahtiranta, HealthTurku Network Manager.

The PRIVASA project consortium includes three research institutes: the University of Turku, Turku University of Applied Sciences and VTT. The corporate partners include Bayer, BCB Medical, BC Platforms, Fujitsu Finland, MVision, PerkinElmer, Polar Electro and Yield Systems, as well as Auria, Turku Science Park, THL and Findata.

PRIVASA (PRIVASA Privacy Preserving AI for Synthetic and Anonymous Health Data) boosts data-driven research, development and innovation by making it easier to access and share health data without compromising individuals’ privacy. The core aim of the project is to add flexibility in the way that health data can be utilized in various stages of research and product development. This aim extends beyond technical solutions, as it also requires trust-building between owners, holders and users of the data. Transparency, legal aspects and ethics are the cross-cutting themes to be explored throughout the multidisciplinary project.

HEALTHTURKU is the strongest expertise cluster and a business pioneer of the life science field in Finland. It is an expertise centre for pharma, diagnostics and health technology, and a frontrunner in the functional foods research. More info: