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Asking the big questions wins the EUPRIO Awards


From “What if a graduate programme operated like a football team?” to “What if cattle all over the world were eating Finnish wood?”

The marketing and communication team at Aalto University in Finland asked the big questions and won the top prize in 2018 EUPRIO Awards at our annual conference in Sevilla, Spain.

This is the 20thanniversary of the first EUPRIO Awards and the first was also won by a university from Finland – Oulu University.

Martin Herrema, president of the EUPRIO Awards jury, said: “The entry from Aalto for the best European higher education communication campaign of the year ticked all the right boxes and demonstrated the impact and benefits of scientific research by simply asking the question ‘What if…?’

”It was original, creative, it met its objectives and, perhaps most important of all, it was carried out mainly by the in-house team, demonstrating a great cost-benefit balance.

Second prize went to to Université Grenoble Alpes from France for their brand campaign “Explore, Explore more”.

Third prize was won by Södertörn University from Sweden for their campaign “I want to make a difference”.

What if…?

Minna Hölttä, Senior Science Editor at Aalto University, was the brains behind the award winning “What if” campaign.

Overall winners from Aalto (L-R) Lucas Millheim, Noora Stapleton & Tapio Reinekoski

She said: “We wanted to show that the research being done at our university matters; to bring the academic world a little closer to our grandparents, the small business opening up on the corner, and even our neighbours’ kids. We also knew that jargon and a sliver-thin focus often gets in the way. That’s why we decided to strip that old way of doing things away and show our experts talking like people, both in the news pieces as well as in the videos.

“The main takeaway from this experiment was that one good idea can lead to a lot of great things. We had 17 distinct projects and every single one gave us a point of engagement. It just took a little digging and a touch of imagination to ask: What if?

“For me, the biggest thing in the project was the response from our researchers. Their excitement and devotion was heart-warming and gave us all the feeling this is how science communications should be done!” 

Explore, Explore More…

The runner-up prize was won by one of France’s new higher education institutions – created following the fusion of three former universities in Grenoble to create Université Grenoble Alpes, or UGA.

“This identity had to be based not only on the cultural values inherited from the three “old” universities, but also on a “new” set of values: multi-disciplinarity; world-class teaching and research; and becoming a key actor of its territory, innovation and pioneer spirit,” said Sandra Démoulin, Head of Communications  at UGA.

She takes up the story by saying: “Explore, Explore More” is UGA’s new visual universe. Created internally and inspired by the pioneer spirit of the 19th century, it illustrates the dialogue between Technology and Humanities, the omnipresence of the Alps mountains in a dreamlike atmosphere where imagination meets innovation.

Sandra Démoulin & Filipe Ferreira from UGA

“We are not only happy and proud for this second place in the EUPRIO awards, but also glad for the unique opportunity to show this universe to an audience of international experts, to hear their questions and suggestions, to envision ourselves exploring the next step of this project and adapting it to an international audience.”

Martin Herrema said the Grenoble project showed “great originality in building a new and distinctive brand”.

“I want to make a difference”

The third prize for EUPRIO Awards 2018 was won by Södertörn University, a young Swedish university located in the suburbs of southern Stockholm, characterised by a strong belief in the ability to think freely and critically to produce new knowledge.

Kenneth Wall, the university’s Director of Communications, said: “Our ‘I want to make a difference’ project aimed to increase first-choice applications to our programmes and courses, as well as to position us as Sweden’s most modern higher education institution.

Anna Arvidsson, Sofie Ros, Carina Lönnebring & Kenneth Wall from Södertörn University, Sweden

“It tapped into young Swedes’ concerns about global issues, linking their desire for change to the United Nation’s 17 global goals.

“An emotive film visualised the concerns of the young people themselves before asking the question: ‘What would you like to change about the world?’

“A website was created to link the global goals with the university’s educational offering, giving potential students the chance to choose courses or programmes using the change they could help create.”

Martin Herrema, President of the EUPRIO Awards Jury

Martin Herrema said the Södertörn project “demonstrated creativity in revolutionising the process of university choice by asking students one question: What do you want to change about the world?

He praised the high standard of ten entries from all parts of Europe and said the winners were chosen by both the judges and participants at #EUPRIO2018.  “I would urge university communication teams to start thinking now about examples of higher education professionalism and great campaigns they plan to launch in the autumn that could be entered for the #EUPRIO2019 Awards next year.”

Words by Nic Mitchell

Main image: Aalto University, Finland