Academy of Finland Newsletter, 3/2009
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Academy of Finland granted 287 million euros in research funding in 2008
Lottery yields 77.1 million euros for science
Finland and Japan reinforce cooperation on research into functional materials
Finland and Sweden boost mutual research collaboration
European Charter and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers
Finnish researchers have been active in CERN
Recession brings increase in children’s behavioural problems
Nominations invited for 2010 Millennium Technology Prize
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ACADEMY OF FINLAND GRANTED 287 MILLION EUROS IN RESEARCH FUNDING IN 2008
In 2008, the Academy of Finland funded cutting-edge Finnish research and projects promoting research careers to a total of 287.2 million euros. About 81 per cent of the Academy’s research funding went to research projects and research programmes at universities.
About half of the Academy’s funding decisions, 140 million euros, went to research projects. A decision was taken to fund the second and final three-year period of the Finnish Centre of Excellence Programme 2006–2011 with a total of 34.5 million euros. There were two Centre of Excellence programmes in progress, with a total of 41 Centres of Excellence funded within them. Two new research programmes started; their funding came to a total of 16.9 million euros. There were 11 research programmes in progress.
The Academy's research funding covered all fields of research and science. Most of the funding was allocated to research applications submitted in disciplines under the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering.
Academy research posts numbered 307, of whom 40 were Academy Professors and 267 were Academy Research Fellows. The Academy funded the Finland Distinguished Professor (FiDiPro) programme with a total of 19.6 million euros. This programme is a joint programme between the Academy and Tekes, but each organisation independently appoints its own visiting FiDiPro professors. There were 28 FiDiPro professors funded by the Academy.
In 2008, the Academy received a total of 4,228 applications, worth altogether 1.2 billion euros.
Although the volume of Academy research funding has increased on 2007, the competition for funding is still intense.
LOTTERY YIELDS 77.1 MILLION EUROS FOR SCIENCE
Lottery money is a considerable source of income for society. The Finnish company that operates lotteries, Veikkaus, contributed an average of over 1.1 million euros every day to the Ministry of Education for distribution to Finnish art, science, sports and youth work. Veikkaus proceeds make up the better part of the overall funding allocated by the Ministry of Education, particularly when it comes to sports and exercise (some 98%) and youth work (some 80%). Where funding for science is concerned, lottery money makes up about 27 per cent of the total budget, with 44 per cent for art. The main recipient of the funding for science (77.1 million euros) was the Academy of Finland; one fourth of the research funding distributed by the Academy comes from lottery money.
FINLAND AND JAPAN REINFORCE COOPERATION ON RESEARCH INTO FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS
The Academy of Finland, Tekes and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) reinforce the collaboration of Finnish and Japanese research teams in the field of functional materials. The Academy will provide 1.2 million euros in funding for five research projects in the field, while Tekes provides 180,000 euros for two projects. The Japanese funding partner, JST, will provide funding for the Japanese researchers involved in the joint project, while the Academy and Tekes fund the Finnish research teams.
A joint call held in October 2008 produced a total of 28 applications. The Academy, Tekes and JST have agreed to arrange three joint calls in the field of functional materials in 2008–2010. The October 2008 call was the first of these. The selected theme of the joint call was research into functional materials, since the field is growing rapidly on the international level. Research in the field can facilitate innovations such as more efficient energy solutions, future electronics development and new bio-materials. Multidisciplinary approaches hold a key position in research on functional materials.
Japan is one of the leading countries in research on functional materials. The aim of the joint call is to reinforce collaboration and build new networks between Finnish and Japanese research teams.
The October 2008 call was the Academy’s first joint call with JST. Joint calls have been arranged before with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS): a call in biological and medical science in 2006 and in ubiquitous computing in 2008.
FINLAND AND SWEDEN BOOST MUTUAL RESEARCH COLLABORATION
Decision-makers in Finland and Sweden will boost their mutual research collaboration. Research collaboration features as part of events related to the commemoration of the Year 1809 and as a theme at the joint session of the two countries’ governments, to be held in May. Finland’s Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has said that from Finland’s point of view, it is more important than ever for the Government to channel funding into research at a time of economic crisis. He has estimated that the drop in resources among private research funding organisations is a passing phenomenon.
The Academy of Finland is about to investigate how research funding could be made available to all Nordic researchers. A proposal to this effect is included on the project list for closer collaboration between Sweden and Finland.
EUROPEAN CHARTER AND CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE RECRUITMENT OF RESEARCHERS
The Academy of Finland and the Finnish Council of University Rectors have undersigned the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. This is a recommendation issued by the European Commission, with the aim of improving the position of researchers and making research careers more attractive in Europe, and also to improve the quality of research by promoting mobility and an interdisciplinary approach. Many European universities and research funding organisations and some research-intensive companies have undersigned the Charter.
In 2005, the European Commission published the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. The aim of the Charter and the Code of Conduct is to increase the number of researchers in Europe and unifying practices for hiring and appointing researchers by developing the selection processes to make them more transparent and by taking researcher salaries into account.
FINNISH RESEARCHERS HAVE BEEN ACTIVE IN CERN
Finland’s activity within the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has been very successful in terms of science, industry and education. The CERN membership contribution guarantees participation in research conducted at CERN and access to the facilities, including the new LHC (Large Hadron Collider) and industrial collaboration. Companies have been collaborating with CERN on matters involving industrial, research and development partnerships. In 1996–2003, Finnish companies made agreements with and received orders from CERN to a total of some 35 million euros. Research work has been equally successful. Finnish scientists have constructed components for CMS and ALICE, which are part of the LHC.
“Finland had the third highest return coefficient on expenses arising from membership contributions in 2004–2007,“ says Markku Mattila, President of the Academy of Finland. Finns have also been actively involved in publications. According to the Science Citation Index (Thomson Reuters), the Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP), a physics research institute that is operated jointly by five Finnish universities and is responsible for the Finnish research collaboration with CERN, is among the leading institutes in its field worldwide: the HIP had 160 scientific articles cited in international scientific journals in 2008. The number of researchers at HIP has exceeded the aims set; graduates last year comprised 17 Masters degrees and 11 doctorates. The operations of the HIP are built on the national CERN strategy approved by the Academy of Finland in 2003. Finland’s membership contribution to CERN comes to some 11 million euros annually.
Finnish researchers in different disciplines are encouraged to apply to CERN and the top-tier research potential it has to offer. CERN can also offer challenging jobs for Finns in other occupations, which would give Finns a higher profile at CERN, says Markku Mattila. Finland’s activity as a member state in CERN is linked with the key aims of Finland’s science and technology policy, which include reinforcing international visibility, networking and benefiting fully from international programmes. It is in Finland’s national interest that the potential inherent in CERN membership is fully utilised for the benefit of both science and industry.
RECESSION BRINGS INCREASE IN CHILDREN’S BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS
A recession causes an increase in children’s emotional and behavioural problems. This is indicated by research conducted by Research Professor Tytti Solantaus into the impact of the 1990s recession on families, school and children. Solantaus continues her research within the Academy of Finland’s research programme on Responding to Public Health Challenges, with a focus on the impact that the recession has had on the subsequent development of the children who were 12 years old at the time. They are now 28 years old. The hypothesis for the research is that the majority of these children have grown up to become young adults without any problems, but that some were marginalised.
The earlier research done by Solantaus showed that the impact of a recession reaches children through home and school, and through their social relationships. The recession had a particularly strong impact on homes, specifically the children’s parents, the activities of the family and social relationships. The parents worried about their future, and there were daily concerns about money. The parents’ mental resources were worn down, which manifested itself particularly in the form of anxieties. This, in turn, was reflected in marital relationships and in parenthood. Parents lost some of their capacity for providing their children with guidance and support, keeping an eye on their whereabouts and showing them that they were loved, and an increase in unpredictable and even heavy-handed parenting was seen.
The Academy of Finland’s research programme on Responding to Public Health Challenges was launched at the start of 2009. The programme’s overall goal is to provide applicable knowledge for responding to the current and future key public health issues. Instead of applying a disease-centred approach, the programme places emphasis on early intervention before the onset of disease hazards. The Academy’s Board has earmarked a total of 8 million euros for the funding of this research programme in 2009–2012. The Academy has agreed on funding cooperation with the Research Council of Norway, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Medical Research Council from the UK.
NOMINATIONS INVITED FOR 2010 MILLENNIUM TECHNOLOGY PRIZE
Finland invites nominations for one of the world’s most prestigious technology awards. The prize is awarded to a technical innovation that improves the human quality of life. Nominations will be received until 1 October 2009. The prize, worth over one million euros, will be awarded for the fourth time this year. This Finnish award for innovators in technology is awarded to a research team or 1–3 people whose work has been crucial for the creation of a new innovation.
The nominations will be processed by an International Selection Committee made up of experts in different field of technology. The final decision on the recipient is made by the Board of the Technology Academy Foundation upon a proposal from the International Selection Committee. The finalists and the winner will be present at the awards ceremony in Helsinki in June 2010. The prize is presented by the Patron of the Prize, President of the Republic of Finland Ms. Tarja Halonen. For more information, see the Millennium Technology Prize website: www.millenniumprize.fi/prize.
Academy of Finland in brief: The Academy’s objective is to promote scientific research of a high standard through long-term quality-based research funding, research and science policy expertise and efforts to strengthen the position of science and scientific research. The Academy makes decisions on research funding worth more than 290 million euros. Each year about 5,000 people benefit from Academy research funding. For more information, go to www.aka.fi or send a message to email@example.com.