The Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland has decided to propose four strategic research themes for 2016. The themes will now be submitted to the Finnish Government for final approval.
The SRC set out to identify strategic research themes that are sufficiently horizontal and that concern as many administrative branches as possible. The themes also had to be sufficiently distinct from each other and represent essential challenges for the future of Finland. In addition, the SRC strived to outline themes that would require multidisciplinary research in order to generate new knowledge.
According to the current schedule, the Finnish Government will decide the final themes after the summer, so that the SRC can construct the theme-based research programmes later this year.
The SRC proposes the following strategic research themes:
- Knowledge, Know-How and the Changing Working Life
- Health and the Changing of Lifestyles
- Global Security in a Finnish Context
- Dynamics of Urbanisation
In addition, the SRC has identified three horizontal focus areas that cut across all four themes:
- International engagement
- Life course
The SRC explained its theme proposals as follows:
“Finland is part of a global, mutually networked world where nations are increasingly interlinked not only financially, but also in terms of crisis management and overall security. The intertwining of external and internal security is taking on a whole new form. Working life, too, is changing faster than ever. The way we work is changing because of new developments in areas such as robotics and digitalisation. Structures that were products of the era of industrialisation no longer meet the new challenges that lie ahead. Which occupations will be in demand in the future? What knowledge and know-how will these jobs require? These are some of the key phenomena that will call for up-to-date research evidence.”
The way knowledge is produced and received is also changing. The SRC opines that there is thus an identifiable need for new research knowledge. The traditional authoritarian and single-channel approach no longer works in a culture where everyone can follow their own preferred specialist, expert organisation or information source online. “There is great variation in the needs, motivation and knowledge adoption of different population groups. That is why knowledge production, dissemination and education in particular must be adaptable and malleable. This change will also affect the objectives outlined for health promotion and changing lifestyles,” the SRC says.
Urbanisation is one of the strategic research themes the SRC has laid out. Our cities and urban environments are growing. The promise of jobs, improved livelihoods, study opportunities and lifestyle choices is encouraging more and more people to move into cities. The SRC says that “we need more information on how cities as diversified growth centres could spread their verve and vitality to neighbouring regions on a wide front. This will require active interregional dialogue.”
“The first SRC calls, launched in April around the themes selected for 2015, attracted a great number of applications in themes related to bioeconomy and automation. This time, we had to prepare the 2016 theme proposals while simultaneously arranging the first review round for applications submitted to those first calls. Partly because of this overlap, perhaps, the SRC ended up with four theme proposals that are quite different from last year’s themes,” says Per Mickwitz, Chair of the SRC.
According to Mickwitz, as far as bioeconomy and automation are concerned, the SRC will be able to assess the need for additional research only after it has made the funding decisions on the first calls. Together with last year’s themes, the themes proposed for 2016 form a good thematic mix that can give rise to excellent research data on topical and important challenges to support solution-driven policy-making.
In May, the SRC organised an open consultation to present its initial theme proposals and to hear the views of members of the scientific community. Earlier, the SRC also invited the scientific community and users and beneficiaries of research to have their say in the theme preparation. For this purpose the SRC opened an online questionnaire, which yielded a total of 280 proposals. The SRC used these proposals extensively as part of the theme preparation process. A list (mostly in Finnish) of the proposals received through the questionnaire is available on the Academy of Finland’s website.
- Research Professor Per Mickwitz, Chair of the Strategic Research Council, , tel. +358 295 251 426, firstname.lastname(at)ymparisto.fi
- Executive Director of Thematic Research Funding Riikka Heikinheimo, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 114, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
Academy of Finland Communications
Riitta Tirronen, Director of Communications
tel. +358 295 335 118