What is the IMPRESS-U measure? Scientists Join International Effort to Support Ukraine – already 4 projects funded.

impress-u scientists working together
Interest in IMPRESS-U has been substantial among scientists – over 140 pre-proposals have been submitted. Photo: with the help of DALL.E

Estonian Scientists Join International Effort to Support Ukraine with US, Ukrainian, Polish, and Baltic Partners. Since the onset of the war, the Estonian Research Council has initiated various support measures to assist Ukrainian scientists and research institutions. Upon the war’s outbreak, Ukrainian scientists arriving in Estonia were integrated into research groups and invited to attend an internship at universities, while those still in Ukraine were given opportunities to participate in international research.

A year ago, the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the USA called upon Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland (countries actively supporting Ukraine) to establish a new scientific collaboration initiative aimed at integrating Ukrainian scientists into international cooperation and solving significant issues for Ukraine using scientific methods. The collaboration, dubbed IMPRESS-U, was launched with funding and cooperation from these countries, and some projects have already received funding.

IMPRESS-U projects last for two years. Each country covers the expenses of its own scientists and those of Ukrainian scientists residing within its borders. Expenses for Ukrainian scientists staying in Ukraine are covered by private foundations. The Estonian Research Council supports each funded Estonian sub-project with €100,000. More details about the program and its conditions can be found HERE.

Interest in IMPRESS-U has been substantial among scientists – over 140 pre-proposals have been submitted, with nearly 30 receiving invitations to submit full proposals, including 5 involving Estonian scientists. The application process is ongoing and remains open as long as funding is available. A memorandum of understanding signed for the program’s implementation will allow for future expansion of collaboration between the USA, Poland, and the Baltic states in other areas of interest.

The first four projects funded by the Estonian Research Council under IMPRESS-U are in the cooperation with TalTech and University of Tartu. From TalTech two of the projects are being carried out by the Faculty of Information Technology’s Institute of Computer Systems, and one by the Institute of Electrical Engineering and Mechatronics. The IMPRESS-U funding enables high-risk research with significant scientific potential and the likelihood of breakthrough results.

In Ukraine, the standardized cryptographic algorithms Kalyna and Kupyna differ significantly from the standard solutions used in the USA. Therefore, applications for these cryptographic algorithms are being explored to improve their performance and security. In the project “Hardware-Efficient Realization of Ukrainian Cryptographic Standards,” TalTech researchers, led by Levent Aksoy and in collaboration with partners from the USA and Ukraine, are working on implementing these cryptographic algorithms in application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). Given Ukraine’s lack of access to reliable chip manufacturing technology, it is crucial that the hardware implementation of national cryptographic standards is resistant to tampering during production and deployment. This ongoing project shares ASIC design skills and best practices in security with Ukrainian scientists and aims to start teaching both software and hardware cryptography techniques in Ukrainian universities soon.

The developed methods will be validated in real devices in Ukraine, which typically operate in harsh environments, physical impacts, obstructed fields of view, and electromagnetic spectrum interference. This picture was made with the help of DALL.E.

The project “Investigative Studies in Robust Machine Learning for Object Detection and Classification” aims to design and implement a situational-aware object detection solution for adverse conditions, low data quality, and uncertain environments. In collaboration with TalTech researchers and partners from the USA and Ukraine, various mathematical, signal processing, and image processing methods are combined with machine learning to enhance the accuracy and reliability of object detection and classification. Led by team leaders Gert Jervan and Mairo Leier, the Estonian scientists are tasked with reducing the complexity of existing machine learning models and implementing them on specialized accelerator hardware to ensure ultra-precise data capture with near real-time capabilities on edge computing devices. The developed methods will be validated in real devices in Ukraine, which typically operate in harsh environments, physical impacts, obstructed fields of view, and electromagnetic spectrum interference.

The project “Adaptive Infrastructure Reconstruction to Test Resilience Against Recurrent Shocks in Ukraine” led by Andrii Chub, involves partners from TalTech, the USA, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland. Recent global crises, such as COVID-19, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical conflicts, have highlighted the need to assess system resilience and recovery capabilities. The project aims to confirm the hypothesis that the resilience and recovery of systems subjected to repeated shocks can be measured through stress tests of their interconnected networks representing systemic functions. This involves a comprehensive methodology that integrates network science, resilience analytics, transparent AI decision-making processes, and digital twin technology.

Finding groundwater. This picture was made with the help of DALL.E.

Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for more than 30% of the world’s population, and accurately assessing its quantity and quality remains a continuous global challenge. The project “Assessing Groundwater Resilience through Integrated Data Exploration for Ukraine” aims to enhance understanding of groundwater dynamics and achieve integrated water balance parameters for transboundary regions with more precise spatial and temporal scales. The results are particularly beneficial for Ukraine, where limitations in terrestrial observation networks necessitate more effective remote sensing-based assessment techniques. The goal is to integrate hydrogeological models with satellite and ground-based data to enable accurate and timely assessment of water resources. The project is being implemented by researchers from the University of Tartu led by Argo Jõeleht and the Geological Survey of Estonia led by Andres Marandi, along with colleagues from the USA, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. This is also the only project funded by the IMPRESS-U initiative thus far that involves partners from all participating countries.

For a small nation like Estonia, IMPRESS-U is particularly significant as it offers our scientists the opportunity to participate in high-level cooperation networks led by top US scientists and contribute to the modernization of Ukraine’s science, education, and innovation systems.

This article is written by communications department of Estonian Research Council (ETAG).

Read more from our webpage about Estonia’s International Collaborations opportunities.

Read more

Get our monthly newsletterBe up-to-date with all the latest news and upcoming events