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110 research projects in natural sciences and engineering granted funding by the Academy of Finland

20 Jun 2017

The Academy of Finland has granted a total of some 48 million euros in funding for research projects in the field of natural sciences and engineering. Granted in the form of Academy Project funding and by the Academy’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering, the funding was awarded to 110 projects that will primarily run for four years. Some 30 per cent of the funding went to projects that are part of research consortia. In all, the Research Council processed 614 applications for Academy Project funding. The success rate was 18 per cent and the average sum granted per project was around 435,000 euros.

The additional funds allocated to the Academy of Finland in the state budget for 2017 made possible a higher application success rate compared to previous years. The additional funds enabled the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering to support more high-quality projects than before under the Academy Project funding scheme.

The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering was unable to fund all top-rated applications (rating 6 or 5), so in prioritising between these high-quality applications it utilised the review reports and its own funding policies and criteria (see www.aka.fi/rcnse/criteria). The Research Council’s most important funding criteria were the quality, impact and novelty of the research as well as the competence of the researcher or research team. Other important factors influencing the funding decisions were the economic and societal impact of the proposed research and the research collaboration and mobility involved. The Research Council supported natural sciences and engineering research of the widest possible scope. By conducting high-quality research, the research projects contribute to strengthening the scientific and societal impact of Finnish research and to promoting science renewal.

Examples of funded projects

Adjunct Professor Tomi Kinnunen (University of Eastern Finland) works in automatic speech verification (ASV), a technology increasingly used in applications demanding high security. ASV systems can unfortunately be subverted using ‘spoofing attacks’, which involve techniques such as replay, impersonation, speech synthesis and speaker transformation. Kinnunen’s project aims to enhance the state-of-the-art in characterisation and detection of non-cooperative speech modifications and to use ASV-inspired approaches to improve voice transformation techniques and obtain parallel human-vs-machine benchmarks concerning spoofed and disguised speech.

Tero Kiuru, DSc(Tech) (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd) and Professor Jussi Ryynänen (Aalto University) were granted funding for a project aiming to develop high-resolution sensing systems for the self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles of the future. The sensors will be developed using a radar-radiometer combination where the proposed device will be integrated on a silicon wafer. This will enable an automotive sensor system to create a 3D map of its environment and place living targets on the map in their correct places. The device will work in all weather and ambient conditions and can be integrated behind a car bumper, for instance. It will therefore not be worn down by ambient conditions as is the case with other sensors that cannot see through a protective cover.

Professor Mauri Kostiainen (Aalto University) aims to develop new safe, synthetic, biohybrid materials to efficiently bind, encapsulate and remove heparin, a drug widely used as a blood anti-coagulant. The limitations associated with heparin use require rapid heparin neutralisation after surgical operation or before blood sample analysis. Kostiainen’s approach mimics the way in which viruses work. He will synthesise or isolate encapsulating features of materials and study their self-assembly and ability to package heparin-like substances.

Researcher Julia Kuosmanen (University of Tampere) aims to leverage innovative technological solutions and computerised training games to enhance the existing forms of treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder in children that manifests itself in problems with concentration, behaviour inhibition and overactive behaviour. Kuosmanen’s project will explore novel ways of interacting with computers by voluntarily controlled gaze, facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements, which offers vast potential for delivering devices and applications that can support rehabilitative processes of ADHD. It is anticipated that the project will also contribute to the development of objective evaluation criteria and diagnostic tools for the clinical assessment of ADHD.

Inquiries

Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131
firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi

The Academy of Finland’s mission is to fund high-quality scientific research, provide expertise in science and science policy, and strengthen the position of science and research. In 2017, our funding for research amounts to 437 million euros. Part of our funds (€70.7m in 2017) come from proceeds of Finland’s national gaming company Veikkaus.

Last modified 20 Jun 2017
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