Finnish project renews pharmaceutical research in an internationally interesting way

An international project Future Clinical Trials being implemented in Finland aims to speed up drug research and increase safety.  The project utilizes artificial intelligence and streamlines drug research. If successful, the project will improve drug research practices worldwide.
The project, launched by the life science company Bayer, aims to accelerate and streamline clinical drug trials.  The development of a new drug takes on average 10 years, of which clinical trials account for up to seven years. In addition, development work is expensive, as the development of a prescription drug costs more than 2 billion euros on average. 

The FCT project utilizes the latest technology and develops treatment paths for patients to participate in drug trials.
"This means remote monitoring the patient by using technology, and thus less visits to the research clinic are required.  Artificial intelligence is used to improve the safety and efficiency of the clinical drug research. We also seek to use high-quality health data in creating virtual control groups. Then a larger proportion of study patients receive study medication, and fewer patients need to be recruited to control groups, ” reflects one of the project leaders, Expert Clinical Data Scientist Jussi Leinonen from Bayer.  

Internationally and nationally important project 

The FCT project aims to renew clinical drug trials in a way that has global significance. Finland was chosen as the target country for the international project for compelling reasons.

Miriam Holstein, CEO of Bayer Nordic, knows well Finland's strengths. 
“Finland has all the prerequisites to develop into a global center of expertise in pharmaceutical research. Finland can provide high-quality health data and high-level technological know-how. In addition, the growth strategy for the health sector is one of the government's priorities.  Bayer also believes in Finland and its strengths.  We have more than 1000 employees in Finland and an internationally significant clinical research unit, to which we recruit new talents. ”  
Business Finland also sees the project's potential for Finland.  
“Besides Bayer Oy, the project will also benefit the entire Finnish research and SME sector. Furthermore, Finland's reputation as an innovative experimental environment is growing, which means that other international pharmaceutical companies can also be expected to invest in Finland. With this project, Finland can become a pioneer in driving a new generation of treatments and data-based, patient-centered solutions, which can grow into global innovations," says Outi Tuovila, Business Finland's Health Ecosystem Lead.

Collaboration to create an ecosystem

The new project requires seamless collaboration between many parties. The project has already now gathered a community of several stakeholders specializing in health data science.  These include, for example, DAIN Studios, Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI), MedEngine, Veil.AI and Medisapiens.

"The objective is to establish an innovation ecosystem for advanced clinical trials in which various companies and research and health care organizations can participate. This would increase the number of clinical trials and the attractiveness of Finland as an investment target for international pharmaceutical companies," explains Arto Pakkalin, Digital and Innovation Lead at Bayer Nordic.


The FCAI participating in the project considers the project to be an important new opening.

“Bayer’s ambitious goals for renewing clinical research offer an excellent opportunity to develop artificial intelligence methods for pharmaceutical research. In addition to basic research in artificial intelligence methods, the collaboration allows new calculation and reasoning methods to be tested quickly in real-life drug research settings.  With this unique multidisciplinary collaboration, we aim for scientific articles in the most prestigious publications in the field. Furthermore, open source solutions benefit the entire ecosystem as well as industry,” says Harri Lähdesmäki, Professor in charge of the FCAI subproject from Aalto University.


The first results of the project can be expected in 2021. The plan is to utilize RWE (Real World Evidence) data in a control group of a real-life research setting as well as to develop a new service concept for conducting clinical drug research.


The final results of the three-year project will be presented in 2023. 

Bayer: Science for a Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and plants and improve quality of life by tackling challenges related to the growing and aging population. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation and growth and increase its earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In 2020, the Group employed around 100,000 people and had sales of 41.4 billion euros. Investments in research and development amounted to 4.9 billion euros.

Bayer in Finland

The product portfolio in Finland includes Bayer's prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, crop protection agents, and control substances. International operations in Finland focus on prescription drugs: their research and development, production, and export of medicines manufactured in Finland to over 130 countries. Many of Bayer's international clinical trials are also led from Finland. 138 professionals in clinical research are working in the Espoo unit. Approximately 40 significant international pharmaceutical studies involving with thousands of patients and professionals around the world are led from Espoo.  The headquarters of Bayer Nordic are in Espoo. This regional organization comprises Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Bayer employs more than 1000 people in Finland. For more information, go to

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