The Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland has prepared a preliminary set of funding principles for the new funding instrument for strategic research. The principles address issues such as eligibility for funding and funding targets. The first SRC funding call is due to be opened in connection with the Academy of Finland’s April 2015 call.
“This is a completely new funding scheme, and so we may need to further specify some principles later on. However, we feel that it’s important to let applicants know the rules of the game as early as possible, even if the rules are only preliminary. This will give applicants plenty of time to prepare good proposals. The final call text will be published later. Applicants should read it carefully,” says Riikka Heikinheimo, director of thematic research funding at the Academy of Finland.
Themes for 2015 to include three extensive programmes
The strategic funding will be allocated to research aimed at finding solutions to the grand challenges facing Finnish society. In order to receive funding, the research must be societally significant and scientifically high-quality. In December 2014, the Finnish Government adopted three main themes and priorities for 2015: utilisation of disruptive technology and changing institutions, a climate-neutral and resource-scarce society, and equality and its promotion. The Strategic Research Council has decided to launch one six-year programme within each of these themes. At present, the SRC is planning the contents of the programmes. More information on the programmes will be made available very soon. The idea is to outline the programmes by defining a set of programme-specific questions to which the research projects should seek answers.
According to the SRC’s principles, the funding call is open to all research-active parties. At a minimum, the principal investigator must have the qualifications of a docent. The funding can be applied for by consortia of three or more research teams from at least two different organisations (i.e. legal entities) and at least three different scientific disciplines.
Riikka Heikinheimo explains: “Non-Finnish organisations and businesses, too, can apply for funding as part of a consortium. The same rules apply to them as to other applicants. However, the funding contribution of a foreign organisation must not exceed one-third of the consortium’s costs or of the number of partners. The foreign subproject must bring some advantage in terms of expected results and impacts.” The funding for businesses is subject to the Finnish legislation on government transfers and grants.
Directors of Centres of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland, or principal investigators for CoE subprojects, can also apply for the funding, but not as consortium leaders.
The funding covers costs in full
The funding for strategic research covers all costs incurred under the full cost model. Applicants need not contribute to the costs with their own funding.
Funding can also be applied for to cover the salary of a principal investigator and a consortium coordinator.
“Acquisition of large-scale equipment is not an eligible cost. Instead, equipment costs are part of the organisation’s overheads,” says Heikinheimo.
The funding period is quite long, possibly up to six years, and the consortia will receive an estimated 4–6 million euros in funding. If this is the case, the projects will have to go through a midterm evaluation. The funding programmes will only include a few consortia, given the fact that the SRC only has some 55 million euros to distribute each year.
The funding instrument for strategic research supports research that seeks solutions to promote the renewal of Finnish society and offers fresh ideas for the future of Finnish business and industry. At the same time, the new funding instrument will contribute to developing a method for improved evidence-based policy and for disseminating research knowledge to users across society.
“In accordance with these stated objectives, we will require that the consortia applying for funding provide not only a research plan but an interaction plan as well. The interaction plan must describe how the research project aims to engage end-users at various stages of the research and how the project will impact on society,” says Heikinheimo.
For more information on the funding instrument for strategic research, go to www.aka.fi/stn > In English.
You can also join in the discussion on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com > Groups > Strategisen tutkimuksen neuvosto.
- Riikka Heikinheimo, Executive Director of Thematic Research Funding, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 114
- Tiina Petänen, Senior Science Adviser, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 091
- Paavo-Petri Ahonen, Senior Science Adviser, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 005
- Tiina Jokela, Senior Science Adviser, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 046
- email: firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
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