The projects to be funded from the special call for research into COVID-19 opened by the Academy of Finland in April have been selected. Funding will be granted to 44 sub-applications from 12 research organisations. The funded projects cover a wide variety of topics that deal with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic it causes, the societal impacts of the pandemic and the prevention and/or mitigation of its negative consequences.
The coronavirus outbreak has caused exceptional challenges on a global scale to both human health and the functioning of society. The Academy of Finland wanted to fast-track a special funding opportunity to support and accelerate research into the COVID-19 epidemic and the mitigation of its effects and to support the utilisation of the research in society. In its meeting on 1 April 2020, the Board of the Academy allocated 8.45 million euros to the call. The Academy’s General Subcommittee made the funding decisions on 26 May 2020.
Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research at the Academy, said: “The call clearly showed the significance of the expertise generated by research and its utilisation in unexpected societal situations. Unpredictable societal crises such as the coronavirus pandemic highlight a number of challenges where research-based expertise can be put to good use.”
The Academy received applications from 26 research organisations, with a total of 319 sub-applications from various disciplines. In selecting the projects to be funded, the Academy considered it important that the projects are in progress and thereby able to rapidly redirect their research to produce information and solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on society.
As the proposed plans are based on ongoing Academy-funded projects, their scientific peer review has already been carried out in previous Academy calls. The projects are based on a broad range of Academy funding, from Postdoctoral Researchers to Academy Professors, SRC programmes and Academy Programmes, Centres of Excellence and Finnish Flagships and Academy Projects.
In terms of relevance, the review focused on the following aspects:
- The sub-application fulfils the objectives set for the funding.
- The sub-application is topical and feasible.
- The sub-application has potential for significant influence from the perspective of combatting the COVID 19 epidemic or mitigating its consequences.
- The sub-application is implemented following good scientific practice. The research must be ethical, follow the principles of sustainable development and make its results, material and data openly accessible.
In order to support the decision-making, expert opinions were requested from ministries, the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Technology Industries of Finland or Business Finland for the most topical sub-applications in terms of social impact.
Riitta Maijala added: “We are pleased that this allowed us to hear the views of experts working closely with the means to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects as regards the sub-applications’ relevance from the viewpoint of the call objectives.”
The Academy currently has an open call for research into COVID-19 vaccines and pharmaceutical development. The call deadline is 2 June 2020. The call was launched based on a one-off appropriation of 10 million euros to research in this field as proposed by the Finnish Government in the supplementary budget.
- Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research, tel. +358 295 335 002, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
- Maiju Gyran, Senior Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 015, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
Academy of Finland Communications
Riitta Tirronen, Director of Communications
tel. +358 295 335 118