University of Tartu's new Delta Center opened Wednesday ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

University of Tartu Delta Center on the bank of the Emajõgi River.
University of Tartu Delta Center on the bank of the Emajõgi River. Source: Henry Narits

The University of Tartu Delta Center, one of the most modern centers for digital technology, analytics and economic ideas in the Nordics, officially opened its doors at noon on Wednesday. The complex consists of two buildings — an academic and research building and an entrepreneurship building — and will bring together more than 3,000 students, lecturers, researchers and development employees from different companies.

Speaking at the opening of the new center, Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) said that the construction of the new complex was spurred by the rapid development of the IT field, adding that it is very important that the number of graduates increase and that IT knowledge increasingly reaches other fields as well going forward, according to a ministry press release.

"The state is without a doubt interested in greater numbers of graduates from IT majors, but until now, one obstacle was a lack of room at the University of Tartu," Reps recalled. "The newly completed building will also provide the best possible conditions for the generation of cross-major synergy so that IT knowledge taught here quickly finds application in entrepreneurship."

Reps noted that the Institute of Computer Sciences, which is relocating to Delta, is one of the best illustrations of international cooperation among the university's faculties, including in terms of its staff.

"I hope that an incredible physical environment and cooperation with the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration will help increase the attractiveness of doctoral studies for university students within our country as well," she continued. "That there will be enough prominent Estonian professors in the IT field to conduct research and teach alongside good foreign professors in the future."

The minister added that it was also of symbolic significance that the university decided to build Delta Center at the heart of Tartu, on the bank of the Emajõgi River, and not in the Maarjamõisa complex further out from the center. This choice of location, she noted, will bring the university closer to the city, its people and its entrepreneurs.

Rector: Already a Tartu landmark

The opening of the Delta Center will breathe new life into both the university's academic work and research as well as Tartu's business scene as a whole, the university said in a press release ahead of the opening.

"As a building, the Delta Center is already a Tartu landmark," University of Tartu (TÜ) Rector Toomas Asser said. "Its contents will certainly make it a hub of innovative ideas that will bring the Estonian economy to a new level of development using a research-based approach."

Estonia's upcoming long-term development strategy for Estonia includes research and development (R&D) and the development of fields of research important to Estonian entrepreneurship as the primary precondition for the growth of smart entrepreneurship, he added.

"The Delta Center will bring together the best knowledge, so that businesses can keep up with the rapid advancement of technology with the help of the university and ensure a new generation of employees," Asser said. "During the construction of the center, we received a clear signal that entrepreneurs like this kind of cooperation format between students, researchers and entrepreneurs, and that Tartu needs at least one more IT entrepreneurship center in the immediate vicinity of the university."

The center's larger, academic and research building will accommodate TÜ's Institute of Computer Sciences, Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as well as some laboratories of the Institute of Technology.

According to TÜ Vice-Rector for Development Erik Puura, the new building will help solve the space issue facing the university.

"This is the last major building," Puura said. "The next likely won't come for at least another five years. Let's just say that this building, alongside a few extras yet to come for the humanities, completes the university's building program."

According to Institute of Computer Sciences director Jaak Vilo, the Delta Center will become a unique cooperation environment for the specialties of IT, economics, mathematics, statistics and computer technology as well as different types of companies to conduct academic work and research and implement development and innovation projects.

"People with such competences have a very important role in the development of companies and the state," Vilo said, adding that it is also important that the Institute of Computer Sciences can now work in the same building and on the same floor again.

"Cooperation with mathematicians and computer scientists is different," explained TÜ Chair of Public Economics and Policy Kadri Ukrainski. "We have cooperated with them, but we have been located in different buildings and in different faculties. They belong to the Faculty of Science and Technology, but we are under the Faculty of Social Sciences. Economics also use a great deal of mathematical methods in their research, and perhaps [mathematicians] would help them improve there, and vice-versa — we can improve our applied ideas in cooperation with mathematicians."

Second building to open in April

The entrepreneurship building, the smaller of the complex's two, is slated to open in April. It will bring research-based entrepreneurship linked with academic work and research to the immediate vicinity of the university in order to offer various cooperation opportunities. The building will become home to Cybernetica AS, Swedbank AS, Statistics Estonia, Software Technology and Applications Competence Center (STACC), the innovation center of AS SEB Pank, the Business Incubation Center of the European Space Agency as well as Tartu Science Park.

The four-story academic and research building, which cost a total of €28.4 million, has an area of approximately 17,500 square meters and features a 4,600 square meter underground parking garage. The entrepreneurship building, which cost a total of €6.6 million, will have an area of approximately 4,700 square meters.

The Delta Center was designed by Illimar Truverk, Sander Aas, Sander Paljak, Kristjan Lind and Joanna Kordemets of Arhitekt11 OÜ and built by AS Ehitusfirma Rand and Tuulberg and AS Ehitustrust with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Republic of Estonia and TÜ.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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