Academy of Finland funded academy projects and research posts with more than 190 million euros

18 Jun 2019

The Academy of Finland funded 250 Academy Projects with a total of 311 subprojects during the September 2018 call. Additionally, funding was granted for 65 research posts as Academy Research Fellow, 114 research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher and 13 posts as Clinical Researcher. The three Academy research councils funded a wide range of research fields with a total of 190.5 million euros. Women accounted for 41 per cent of the funding recipients.

The Academy of Finland decided to allocate the appropriation of 25 million euros earmarked in the government budget to all three research councils to support the younger generation of researchers. The research councils used the appropriation to fund Academy Projects with early-career researchers. The funding was targeted at early-career researchers at the docent or professor level who have shown rapid progress in their research career and who have significant potential to ensure the renewal of research in their field.

International peer review is an essential tool in identifying the most promising applications

The emphasis in the Academy of Finland’s funding decisions was on quality and impact of research as well as scientific renewal. The applications were peer reviewed by international expert panels. High-level international peer review is the Academy’s key tool for identifying the best and most promising research projects. Nearly one thousand international researchers participate in the Academy of Finland reviews annually. There were 66 review panels with 638 experts in the September 2018 call. Additionally, there were 48 experts who participated in the reviews individually.

In addition to the scientific quality of the application and the novelty of the research, the panels ranked the reviewed applications according to how they match the programme objectives. Academy Projects were ranked according to the scientific quality and innovativeness of the research plan. Moreover, the applications for research posts were ranked according to the applicant’s personal competence.

Decisions were made in two stages for the first time

The decisions on applications for Academy Project, Academy Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher funding submitted in the September 2018 call were made in two stages. In the first stage, applications that received a rating of 1–4 in the review as a rule were given a negative decision at the discretion of the research council concerned. Within different funding instruments, 52–73 per cent of the decisions were made in the first stage, which means that the applicants were notified of their decision earlier than before. Rest of the applications were processed in the second stage (mainly applications that received a rating of 5–6). The second-stage decisions could either grant or deny funding or place the applicant on a reserve list.  

“As the Academy wants to grant funding to internationally most promising applications, the review reports of the panels are essential to the research councils’ decision-making process. The applications that received a positive funding decision were deemed scientifically excellent. The implementation of the two-stage decision-making process was initiated by the applicants. Its aim was to expedite the process times of the applications that were less succesful in the peer review. The applicants can, if they wish, then begin searching for alternative funding opportunities earlier than before”, says Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research.

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