Customized business projects

The Customized Business Projects concept was created in 1995. The idea was to create a student project concept that concentrates solely on business needs, free from time and scope restraints. Customized Student Business Projects made it possible to link students with different business areas, such as marketing, finance, logistics and economics. Since the creation of Aalto University, we have formed successful groups consisting of business, technology and design students.

In the Customized Student Business Projects Aalto University gathers together a research group, which consists of 2-5 Aalto University students at their final stage of studies and a professor/researcher who is in charge of the group. Students are handpicked for the project from different Aalto University Schools. The aim of the project is to teach students how to make research and development for the companies.

How do the participants gain from the cooperation?

The Student Business Projects offer students a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of business life and apply their theoretical knowledge to practical business activities. Students receive ECTS credits for business projects. They also receive monetary compensation for their work, which improves commitment.

For businesses and organisations, student projects are an excellent way to benefit from interactions between science, art, technology and business and to engage in concrete collaboration with the experts of the future.

As a result of the project, the business receives useful information on a subject that it finds important. Several of our partners have also used projects as a channel for recruitment by employing students who have performed well during the project.

Benefits for the business partner

  • Easiness: Aalto University takes care of gathering and managing the research group.
  • Security: The researcher in charge of the group ensures that the work is performed well and that quality criteria are met.
  • Versatility: A business project can be related to any subject being researched or taught at Aalto University or a combination of several subjects.
  • Tailored model: The business project offers a fully tailored model for cooperation between the business and the university. Business projects are planned based on the objectives of the company.
  • Costs: The purpose of business projects is not to make profits for the university, but to bring students and working life closer to each other. For businessess the projects offer a unique and cost-effective way of carrying out projects.

Implementation of the project

Starting points:

  • Clearly defined scope.
  • Duration 2 to 4 months. The schedule is agreed on separately.
  • The company appoints a contact person who provides the project group with information when necessary.
  • Student Business Projects are performed as team work and the theoretical part is more limited than that of a master's thesis.

The implementation of projects varies according to the objectives and interests of the businesses. Typically, a business project is a study, analysis, action plan, benchmarking project or process description.

The project can be related to any subject being taught or studied at the schools of Aalto University. The six schools of Aalto University provide businesses with a vast range of areas of expertise, including management, marketing, industrial engineering and management, data systems, energy technology, electrical engineering, product development, design and many others.

Project progress

A business project begins when a company contacts the Project Coordinator. Issues that need to be decided on include the research subject, schedule, scope and members of the research group.

The Project Coordinator gathers a research group consisting of 2 to 5 students at the final stage of their studies and a researcher who is in charge of the group. Depending on the expertise needed, the student members of the group are recruited from selected Aalto University schools.

The project consists of various stages and meetings where the progress of the work is monitored. The researcher in charge of the group coordinates the project and controls the quality of the work.


Student Business Projects are subject to VAT. However, the aim is not to make a profit and only actual costs will be invoiced.

The final cost of a project depends on the research subject, schedule and size of the research group. Contact Project Coordinator Tommi Vihervaara for further information.

Examples of completed projects

Aalto University has solid experience of carrying out Student Business Projects. All in all, our students have completed well over a hundred projects.

These collaboration projects have resulted in impressive documents, including process descriptions on using new technology, market and competitor analyses and studies on the employer image of companies.

You will find some examples of completed projects and comments from company representatives. Ask for more examples and information on implementing projects from Project Coordinator Tommi Vihervaara.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How do Customized Business Projects differ from other student projects?

Most of the research projects done by Aalto students are tied to a specific course or subject. However, Customized Business Projects are not based on any course descriptions but on the needs of a company. Customized Business Projects are more flexible with schedules and methods of completion. Unlike other students projects, the students working on Customized Business Projects get on top of ECTS paid, which plays a part in stronger motivation.

What guarantees the quality of the project results?

The quality of the projects is based on the expertise of the researcher who oversees the project and the competence of Aalto University as a leading research institution in Finland. The students are interviewed and selected separately for each project.

Does the research topic need to be defined in detail?

A clearly defined research topic or problem helps planning of the project, but it is not a necessity. A Customized Business Project is also a good place to start if a company seeks possible new expansion areas for their business or is looking for new directions for their thoughts. After a completed Customized Business Project it is easier to make decisions since the company will have more than just a hunch to base them on.

What is the role of the researcher?

The professor or researcher overseeing the project oversees the contents of the project. He or she will be in charge of the project form the start to finish and will actively steer the group to ensure the quality criteria is met. On top of this the researcher will open the door for to the group to the newest research of the field.

What the optimal size of a company to complete a project?

Projects have done for companies ranging from small business employing a couple of people to big international companies. We have also had associations and government-owned organizations as customers.

What is the biggest and the smallest number of students possible for a project?

Usually the size of the project team varies from two to five students. Usually we don’t use teams of one student as the risk of delay is higher due to factors like sickness etc. In one person team the benefits of team work are also lost. Teams with more than five students require more resources and planning, so the must be agreed on separately.

What do the projects require form the company?

The job of the company is to define the project and its goals. Also it is good to have a contact person form the company to give more information and/or contacts when needed. Everything else, like gathering the project team and guiding it is Aalto University’s responsibility.

Are projects public like master’s theses?

The results of the project are confidential, not public, and if needed everyone involved in the project will sign non-disclosure agreements.

Could Customized Business Projects be used as a channel for recruiting as well?

Customized Business Projects are also a good channel to find good employees to the company. Often after the project someone from the group gets a thesis topic or even a job offer form the company. The project naturally does not bind to anything.

Could Customized Business Projects be part of a bigger research project?

Customized Business Projects have been a part of bigger research projects as well, such as TEKES-projects. However, it is crucial that the part of Customized Business Projects is clearly defined and that is possible to execute within the time frame and workload.

What students get out of Customized Business Projects?

On top of ECTS and monetary compensation, Customized Business Projects offer students a unique possibility to see how to do authentic research or consultancy work for a company. The presence of an experienced researcher makes it easier to take on even bigger challenges.

Can the company take part in the recruiting of the students?

Companies are always welcome to join us in interviews to choose the right candidates. It is also possible that Aalto University does it all for the company.

How do the projects start?

To get the project started the companies always contact the project specialist. When the topic, size and schedule of the project is clear, the project specialist will make an official offer. By accepting the offer the project will start. After this Aalto University will recruit the students and the work may begin!

Page content by: | Last updated: 27.06.2017.