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Elements of AI: questions and answers


Why is Finland procuring this online course for all EU citizens?

The initiative was launched in the context of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Finnish Presidency has been working with the member states to reach a shared understanding of the conditions for sustainable growth. The cornerstones of such growth are: digitalisation, artificial intelligence and enabling lifelong learning. Finland is also known for its high-quality free public education system with equal access for all, and for its excellence in technology.

A competitive and socially inclusive EU is one of the main priorities of the Finnish Presidency. Europe's competitiveness draws on skilled people and, increasingly, on the use of artificial intelligence and digital solutions.

The Finnish Presidency of the Council has consistently underlined that due to the transformation of work, the intensified global competition and the changing skills requirements in the labour market, it is particularly important for the EU countries to invest in reskilling and upskilling.

The initiative has three aims: Finland, as the outgoing Presidency, wants to invest in skills, increase EU citizens’ practical understanding of the opportunities and nature of artificial intelligence and reinforce the digital leadership of the EU and thus increase its competitiveness.


What will be the cost?

The total value of this procurement is estimated at EUR 1,679,000 (VAT 0 %).

The initiative will be funded from the budget of  the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. This procurement is associated with the issues – digital transformation, artificial intelligence, new skills, the transformation of work and sustainable development – that Finland’s Presidency has been advocating with the help of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

What will the money bring?

The online course, Elements of AI, co-produced by the University of Helsinki and Reaktor Innovations Oy, will be translated and adapted into all the official EU languages. The Finnish, Swedish, Estonian and English versions are already available, and the German version is in progress (independently of the procurement in question).

Under the agreement between the University of Helsinki and Reaktor Innovations Oy, the Elements of AI course will be made available in the remaining 19 EU languages in stages so that all the versions will be completed in spring 2021 at the latest.

How will effectiveness be measured?

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will appoint a steering committee to guide and monitor the realisation of the project. The project will be carried out in stages. The course will be launched in the individual member states following a jointly-agreed concept, in collaboration with a local partner and with due regard to local specificities.

Completing the online course

What needs does the course respond to?

Most of the currently available AI courses have been designed for people equipped with basic programming skills or with basic knowledge of advanced mathematics. Elements of AI is destined to all individuals interested in learning about this topic. The course provides basic information and basic skills for people to understand what artificial intelligence is all about and how it affects the world around us.

Elements of AI is a university-level online course, free and open for everyone.

Who is the course for?

Elements of AI is helpful for anyone interested in artificial intelligence. AI is going to play an increasingly big role in the future in many walks of life. Many people want to know what AI actually is and how they could benefit from it in their own lives.

The course has already been started by more than 220,000 students in over 110 countries. They include a wide range of people – business professionals, unemployed persons, dental assistants and pensioners – aged between 20 and over 75.

When will the course be available in my language?

During 2020–2021, Finland will provide European citizens with free access to an online course, the Elements of AI. The aim is to publish the first new language version in spring 2020. If you wish to know when the course will be out in your own language, you can sign up for our newsletter at

How long does it take to complete the course?

It will take roughly 30 hours, depending on the starting level of the student. Taking the course successfully does not require prior knowledge of programming, but technical studies or prior experience of online learning environments may prove useful.


Why did the University of Helsinki and Reaktor want to do this together?

There is quite a lot of buzz surrounding AI but not enough factually correct information about it and its possibilities and limitations. We wanted to change that.

We joined forces because we felt our skills complemented each other. The University of Helsinki conducts high-quality research, provides first-rate education and has a long track record of training top people. Reaktor, in turn, offers insights into the world of international business and brings its expertise in some of the best AI applications in the world.

Through our cooperation, Finland is able to spread the word about a knowledge-based social innovation that can be valuable and useful for individuals and societies across the EU.

Facts about the University of Helsinki:

  • The University of Helsinki, founded 380 years ago, is the oldest and largest institution of academic education in Finland. It is an international scientific community of 40,000 students and researchers, estimated as of the best in the Nordic countries.
  • In most university rankings, the University of Helsinki ranks among the best 50–100. Among the universities of the world, the University of Helsinki is estimated to be among the top 0.5%. (e.g. 63rd in Academic Rankings of World Universities, 96th in Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 90th in National Taiwan University (NTU) Ranking)
  • The Department of Computer Science hosts a growing portfolio of MOOCs (massive open online courses) such as Elements of AI, Cyber Security Base and a number of introductory courses in programming:
  • Digital Education for All initiative: In 2019, the Department of Computer Science opened its first-year studies to everyone: Those already in working life can complement their know-how and prospective students can gain full admission to the University of Helsinki by completing enough courses in a year.
  • In 2018, the University of Helsinki and Aalto University joined forces in AI research to found the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence with over 80 professors working in AI and its applications. The FCAI aims to promote the utilisation of AI in Finnish companies and society by means of world-class research and training. The FCAI is one of the six flagships funded by the Academy of Finland.
  • The University of Helsinki will continue to open its courses and increase the supply of continuous education in the coming years. For information on the University’s MOOCs and online courses, also outside computer science, go to

Facts about Reaktor:

  • Established in 2000
  • Technology, design and strategy consultancy company
  • 500+ experts from various fields
  • Turnover in 2018: EUR 79.2 million
  • Offices in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, New York, Amsterdam, Dubai and Tokyo
  • A company owned by its employees
  • Clients include KONE, Finnair, Supercell, HBO, KLM-Air France, Dow Jones, Viacom, Michael Kors and Adidas