International networks and cooperation crucial to career progression in research
The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment considers international research cooperation an important and integral part of all scientific activity. Each year there are several jointly funded calls in disciplines that come under the Research Council’s umbrella. Researcher meetings are a valuable source of feedback for the Research Council regarding the value added gained from international funding calls and the impact of collaborative projects.
The Academy of Finland is committed to support the internationalisation of Finnish science and Finnish researchers in all its funding programmes. International exchange and cooperation is recognised as crucial to supporting the quality, impact and renewal of research. In 2021 the Academy allocated 14 million euros towards international funding agency collaboration. A recent international evaluation recommended that the Academy of Finland further expand and deepen its efforts to support and fund international research.
The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment has set itself the target of allocating 3-4 million euros per annum towards funding European and Nordic partnership calls. Professor Jussi Kukkonen, Chair of the Research Council, says it is “crucially important that Finnish funding agencies are involved in European and Nordic cooperation so that Finnish researchers are better placed to participate in international cooperation and so that we are considered valued partners in jointly funded programmes.”
Diverse benefits and impacts from international cooperation
The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment is interested to hear the views of researchers regarding the valued added that is gained from international funding calls and projects as compared to national calls. Researcher meetings hosted by the Council have highlighted the diverse benefits of international cooperation, and international networks are considered extremely important. In particular, researchers have stressed how the broader context can open up a wider perspective on research questions.
Cooperation can assume multiple forms and take place at multiple levels. It may involve the exchange of research samples, the delivery of research materials or the joint use of research infrastructures and analytics, for instance. Furthermore, international networks have helped to give greater visibility to one’s own research and facilitated joint applications for framework programme funding. International cooperation can also provide valuable lessons on different ways of doing research and different practices, as well as lead to increased researcher exchange and researcher mobility and support the career development of young researchers.
“Based on the feedback from researchers, the funding granted by our Research Council has contributed to support the internationalisation of Finnish research teams and to intensify international cooperation,” Professor Kukkonen says.
The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment is determined to continue to contribute to international funding calls, so long as the research themes are relevant to Finland and to Finnish research cooperation. The Research Council is committed to support the work of several jointly funded European partnerships and their calls for research funding in the years ahead.
The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment monitors the impact of projects it has funded among other things by hosting meetings with researchers and exchanging views on issues related to research and research funding. In 2022 the Research Council arranged a meeting with researchers working in international jointly funded projects on 8 November. These projects represented different fields and were at different stages of their life cycle:
- ERA-NET AquaticPollutants: Reduction and assessment of antimicrobial resistance and emerging pollutants in natural-based water treatment systems, 01/2021-08/2024
- ERA-NET WaterWorks2017: Reducing the effects of forest management to inland waters, 04/2019-06/2023
- JPND: Pre-diagnostic early synaptic disturbances in neurodegenerative diseases, 03/2022-02/2025
- NordForsk – Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare: Working hours, health, well-being and participation in working life, 06/2015-05/2021
- BiodivERsA – BiodivRestore: Bringing nature back – biodiversity-friendly nature-based solutions in cities, 04/2022-03/2025
- ERA-NET ForestValue: From fundamentals to valorization: Enzymatic oxidation of cellulosic fibres and underlying mechanisms, 02/2019-05/2022
- LEAP-Agri: Innovative approaches to value-addition and commercialization of climate-smart crops for enhanced food security and nutrition in Africa and beyond, 08/2018-07/2022.