Evaluation: ELVIRA successful in promoting multidisciplinary research
7 June 1013
The Academy of Finland’s Research Programme on Nutrition, Food and Health (ELVIRA) succeeded in creating a number of new multi- and cross-disciplinary research consortia. Without the ELVIRA programme, such consortia would not have been established. This is one of the findings of the recent report by an international expert panel that evaluated the programme. The panel further notes that ELVIRA was highly successful in promoting collaboration between academia and industry. On the other hand, the programme was not as successful in its efforts to step up international cooperation and researcher mobility.
The overall aim of the four-year programme was to generate high-standard and innovative research knowledge of food and nutrition. A special focus was placed on the scientific, societal and economic impacts of the research. The underlying theme of the programme was health: how to build and maintain good health and wellbeing with healthy nutrition, how to produce tasteful foods supporting health-promoting nutrition and make them better available, and how to ensure food safety.
The ELVIRA programme involved a total of 16 research consortia. The Academy of Finland funded the programme with EUR 7 million in 2007‒2010. Other funding bodies were Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, and the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
According to the panel, ELVIRA succeeded in achieving the set aims in most of its thematic areas. However, there were significant differences between programme themes. In its report, the panel recommends that the Academy avoid launching research programmes with highly diverse themes and limit the number of thematic areas. Further, international mobility should be an obligatory criterion for funding, and 10 per cent of the programme funding should be earmarked for high-risk research projects.
The panel further recommends that, in future Academy programmes, research projects be formally reviewed in their mid-term, for example, in a workshop. If relevant, the research could then be redirected and new collaboration projects launched.
The aim of the evaluation was to review the implementation and results of the ELVIRA programme, as well as the programme’s impact on the basis of media visibility and the researchers’ own media experiences. In addition, the evaluation also involved a foresight aspect with a view to considering future themes and research topics in the field.
The evaluation panel was chaired by Professor James Lindsey from USDA (USA). The other panel members were Professor Marika Mikelsaar from the University of Tartu (Estonia) and Professor Liisa Lähteenmäki from Aarhus University (Denmark). One section of the evaluation includes a review of communication activities by Professor Esa Väliverronen from the University of Helsinki (Finland).
The evaluation report is part of the Academy of Finland publication series and available as a PDF download at www.aka.fi/publications > Publication series.
• Programme Manager Tiina Jokela, tel. +358 29 533 5046, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
• www.aka.fi/elvira > English
Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Manager Riitta Tirronen
tel. +358 29 533 5118