The Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence (CoE) are the flagships of Finnish research. They are close to or at the very cutting edge of science in their fields, carving out new avenues for research, developing creative research environments and training new talented researchers for the Finnish research system and Finnish business and industry.
A CoE is a research and training network that has a clearly defined set of research objectives and is run under a joint management. Funding is provided for a eight-year term, which means that CoEs can work to long-term plans and even take risks. CoEs are jointly funded by the Academy of Finland, universities, research institutes, the private business sector and many other sources.
Here you will find information and materials on Centre of Excellence kick-off and annual seminars as well as on other Academy events related to CoEs.
- The Renewed Centre of Excellence Programme 2018-2025, 16 Feb 2016
- CoE semnar, 04 December 2014
- CoE seminar, 12 November 2013
- CoE seminar, 27 November 2012
- CoE seminar, 14 December 2011
Centres of Excellence in Research (CoE) contribute to regenerating and revitalising scientific research and know-how. CoEs are intended for research teams and consortia of research teams to carry out research at the highest level. A Centre of Excellence:
- is an innovative and target-oriented research environment combining international cutting-edge research and support for high-level research careers throughout the career trajectory
- has an effective and professional management, with a clear and challenging research vision
- is competitive in applying for international research funding.
A Centre of Excellence may also:
- consist of one or more leading-edge research teams working closely together, based at a university or research institute or spread across several different organisations. It may also have collaboration with private-sector companies.
- be an integral part of a Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation.
The funding for CoEs is contractual funding provided by the Academy of Finland together with universities and research institutes, other funding bodies, foundations and companies. The aims set for CoEs have been defined in the National Strategy for Centres of Excellence in Research (Publications of the Academy of Finland 6/97) and will be revised when necessary.
The strategy lays out the following principles for CoEs:
- A Centre of Excellence is a research community that is already at rather than striving for the international cutting edge of research in its field.
- The number of CoE terms will not be limited, that is, a CoE is eligible to apply for a new CoE programme upon the end of its term; whether the CoE will continue in the new programme will be determined by the scientific quality of its research plan.
- The principal investigator in charge of a CoE, or another researcher closely involved in the work of a CoE, is eligible to apply for Academy-project funding during the second three-year term of the CoE funding.
- CoE programmes run for six years, and CoEs will receive their funding in two instalments – at the beginning of the term and at mid-term.
The Centre of Excellence programmes of the Academy of Finland have effectively contributed to the advancement and development of top-quality Finnish research environments and researcher training. In addition, the objectives set for the CoE programmes have been successfully attained. These are among the findings of the 2009 evaluation report on the societal impact of the Finnish national CoE programmes.
The evaluation set out to study the societal impact of the national programmes for Centres of Excellence in 2000–2005 and 2002–2007. The objective was to examine how the national CoE programmes have advanced the societal objectives and the practical benefits called for in the National Strategy for Centres of Excellence in Research (Academy of Finland Publications 6/97). In planning the CoE programme evaluation, it was noted that a CoE is, by definition, of high scientific quality and that this had already been established in the programme process. The evaluation of scientific quality was therefore excluded from the evaluation.
The greatest added value in the programmes has come from the development of top research environments and significant investments in researcher training. The recommendation following from the evaluation is that the Finnish Programmes for Centres of Excellence in Research should be continued and that scientific quality should remain the primary selection criterion for the CoEs. However, the evaluation goes on to recommend that future programmes should aim at a smaller number of CoEs with more public funding per unit.
- CoE status gives momentum and visibility to research’ (ProAcademia magazine 1/2009)
- CoE programmes promote the development of research environments and researcher training (Academy press release)
The evaluation report Impact Evaluation of Finnish Programmes of Centres of Excellence in Research 2000–2005 and 2002–2007 is available in PDF format on the Academy’s website at www.aka.fi/publications > Publication series.