New flagship research project secures water resources with digital twins – Syke partner in the innovative research ecosystem

News 2023-10-25 at 10:23
© Tero Sivula, Rodeo

Four new Flagships have been selected to the Research Council of Finland’s Finnish Flagship Programme, one of which is Digital Waters coordinated by the University of Oulu. Flagship Programme supports high-quality research and increases the economic and societal impact emerging from the research.  

The Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) is strongly involved in DIWA flagship, leading one of the five research themes and many of its research tasks. Syke's expertise is present on re-visiting the understanding of hydrosphere processes in time and space, and integrating analysis and modelling of such process, including participating in the development of digital twins. Syke is also a key actor in forward-looking digital services and business applications that leads to transformative water management. 

The Digital Waters flagship aims to become a leading research and innovation ecosystem in the water sector, using research to support decision-making and pave the way for the next revolution in water sector - digitally.   

"Solutions driven by the Digital Waters flagship are urgently needed, because water is a critical natural resource which is difficult to manage and where digital solutions are rapidly needed," says Professor Björn Klöve, Director of the flagship at the University of Oulu.  

“The Digital Waters Flagship is an initiative that will widen up the horizons of water related research, development, and business in Finland”, says Cintia Uvo, research professor at Syke.  

Cintia Uvo's expertise as Research professor is water resources in a changing world. © Kai Widell

The water sector has a multi-billion business potential worldwide, which is expected to grow rapidly. Climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and water scarcity require additional investments that increase the value of water. The flagship partnership creates new opportunities for companies to develop products to address major societal challenges.  

The Digital Waters partnership will enable digital modelling of entire water systems - the digital twins of water systems. This is challenging because real-time data on climate, soils and water systems are needed over hundreds of kilometres and across different countries. Digital twins can be used to model water resources, their use and assess the impact of decision-making on surface and groundwater.  

The digitalisation of water resources will improve the management and security of water systems, distribution and use, for example in the event of flooding or drought. Digital water management also helps to balance the objectives of industry, energy, agriculture and forestry in a sustainable way.  

”The Digital Waters flagship will bridge the knowledge gap on the water cycle by bringing together scattered national research on a "source to sea" basis, in other words on a catchment basis. By combining measurement data on climate, land and water through digital innovation, we support sustainable solutions to avoid the serious consequences of global changes on water cycles, the environment and socio-economic systems," says Klöve.   

The Digital Waters flagship partnership, led by the University of Oulu, will initially involve 276 partners. In addition to the University of Turku, Aalto University, the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, the Finnish Environment Institute and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the partners include Finnish research infrastructures, international research organisations, nearly 200 companies, public bodies, and NGOs.   

The Research Council of Finland finances four new flagships in total with almost 90 million euros in two four-year periods. Exact decisions on the distribution of the amount are expected by January. Background organizations and partners also contribute significantly to the financing of research entities. 

More information  

Research professor Cintia Uvo, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 295 251 555,

Press release by the coordinator University of Oulu: New Finnish Flagship secures water resources with digital twins (

Research Council of Finland press release: Research Council of Finland selects four new Finnish Flagships (

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