Professor Markku Mattila, President of the Academy of Finland:
Finland should commit to substantial R&D investment
The Academy of Finland supports the objective that Finland should try to maintain its R&D expenditure at the current level of some 4 per cent of GDP. According to Professor Markku Mattila, President of the Academy of Finland, the Academy also considers it important to keep the proportion of public R&D funding at some 1.2 per cent of GDP. While Finnish businesses did scale down their research spending last year, overall R&D spending showed an increase thanks to the growth in public funding.
Speaking today at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki at the Academy Day, an event on science policy and strategy, Mattila said now is the right time to invest in research and human capital. “It’s the best investment we can make for the future. An economic downturn is an ideal time to invest in research.”
“Finland now has a national innovation strategy. To support it, we also need to define a policy that focuses on scientific research—we need a national science strategy. Now is the appropriate time to start drafting this strategy, and engage all key actors in charge of science promotion in the drafting process.”
Mattila was keen to highlight the fact that the issues science deals with are increasingly complex, and often spread across more than one scientific discipline. Science is constantly evolving, and it requires a great deal from its creators. Scientific research faces an increasing number of formidable tasks. Researchers are expected to provide solutions to the grand challenges facing individuals, enterprises, nations and humanity as a whole. “It is hard to imagine,” Mattila said, “that we could ever solve the fundamental questions of health, welfare, technology, culture and the environment without the knowledge and know-how of researchers.”
Finnish universities produce some 1,600 doctorates every year. As recently as 20 years ago, the figure was only 500 every year. The Finnish network of doctoral programmes is fairly extensive and evidently works quite well. Mattila emphasised the significance of researcher training as a unique resource for Finnish science and research. He called for further improvements to the quality of Finnish doctoral training, for example, to enhance its appeal.
Foreign nationals account for about one-sixth of doctoral students in Finnish doctoral programmes. “We should raise the quality of our doctoral programmes to increase their appeal among foreign doctoral students,” Mattila added.
“Scientific research also requires other resources and facilities. Finland should set the objective of launching a national development programme for research infrastructures. Research infrastructures are both a national asset and an international resource that can help build research capacity of the highest standard. Finland is more than ready to assume responsibility in international research infrastructures, as well.”
More information: Professor Markku Mattila, President of the Academy of Finland, tel. +358 9 7748 8210, +358 40 073 6603. The speeches and presentations from the Academy Day will be available online at www.aka.fi/academyday.
Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Director Maj-Lis Tanner
tel. +358 9 7748 8347, +358 40 729 6736