Big funding boost for research infrastructures to strengthen cooperation with business sector

1 Dec 2020

The Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee at the Academy of Finland has granted a total of 20 million euros for projects that will contribute to increasing the wide and versatile use of research infrastructures. The funding decisions were made on 30 November 2020.

The funding is based on a 20 million euro increase in the Academy of Finland’s budget authority allocated through the Finnish Government’s fourth supplementary budget. Granted under the call ‘FIRI: research infrastructures as collaborative platforms’, the funding was targeted to support the National Roadmap for Research, Development and Innovation and its objectives relating to solutions for a sustainable and developing society. The funding also supports the implementation of the new partnership model outlined in the roadmap. The funding also promotes the objectives for wide and versatile infrastructure impact, as outlined in the Strategy for National Research Infrastructures in Finland 2020–2030 (PDF).

Thanks to the additional funds, the Academy was able to launch a new type of funding opportunity to support, in particular, the development of research infrastructures in collaboration with the business sector. The funding contributes to finding new interfaces between research infrastructures and industry. The aim is to consolidate cooperation platforms where research, education and innovation can intersect and evolve. Such reinforced collaborative platforms can facilitate a wider utilisation of research infrastructures in business R&D, which in turn supports competence centres and ecosystems.

The call attracted 54 applications, and funding was granted to 19 consortia. The project size is around 0.4–2.4 million euros.

Funding was awarded to research infrastructures in wireless communications technologies, the bioeconomy and circular economy and structural biology as well as the National Virus Vector Laboratory. Funding was also granted to support a research infrastructure exploring adaptation to climate change and to promote cooperation in sustainable food systems, photonics, micro- and nanotechnology, materials research, and linguistic resources and language technology.

The funding will also promote research infrastructure cooperation with companies in the food, network technology, photonics, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, health technology and energy sectors.

The funded research infrastructure projects will aim, for example, to produce information on the composition and structure of foods and their raw materials, the physiological significance of food and consumer attitudes not only to the needs of researchers but also to the needs of the food business, public authorities and consumers. The development of collaborative platforms between research infrastructures and business companies will also enable the scaling of molecular-level research results into high-tech products.

Riitta Maijala, the Academy’s Vice President for Research, said: “The importance of research infrastructures in supporting high-quality research has grown significantly over the past few years. The projects now funded include inspiring examples of the many different ways in which research infrastructures can also build and boost cooperation with the business sector.”

In accordance with by the Finnish Government’s fourth supplementary budget, the Academy of Finland advances solutions for a sustainable and developing society also through its Finnish Flagship Programme and by funding RDI partnership networks.

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