Aalto University was established as a priority project in Finnish university renewal. The first idea of a new innovative university merging art, technology and economics was presented by then rector of the University of Art and Design, Yrjö Sotamaa, in his opening speech for the academic year in autumn 2005. A more concrete plan was presented for the establishment of a new university in February 2007, in the memorandum of the working group led by Secretary of State Raimo Sailas. The preparation of the university began later the same spring, when the initiation of the university was entered by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen into the government programme.
Established in 2010, Aalto University is strongly future-oriented while at the same time building on the combined 300-year-history of three highly-regarded universities. It was created by a merger of the Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology and the University of Art and Design Helsinki.
The Aalto University charter was signed in June 2008. On 19 December 2008, Professor Tuula Teeri was selected by the Board to be the first President of Aalto University. The university started operating on 1 January 2010