Information for Academy of Finland funding recipients and applicants on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

*updated 18 March 2021

On this page, we will gather information and news on how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the application process, the use of funding or decision-making at the Academy of Finland.  The FAQ list on this page includes questions coming in from the research community and our answers to them.

If you have any other questions, please send them to us with our Questions and feedback section.

We are taking steps to ensure that key activities related to our calls and funding will continue running and that we will be able to provide advice as needed, despite these exceptional circumstances.

Frequently asked questions

How can Academy funding be used in these exceptional circumstances caused by Covid-19?

The coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult for Academy-funded researchers and research projects to carry out their original research plans.

The use of funding granted by the Academy is limited by the Act on Discretionary Government Transfers and the state budget. Academy funding must be used for the purpose for which it was granted.

If it becomes difficult to implement the project in accordance with the original research plan, for example because the project personnel are unable to carry out their tasks, there are three alternatives available.

1. The project will continue, adapted to the circumstances caused by the pandemic.

It is possible to redirect research within the purpose referred to in the funding decision. This is standard procedure in research. The changes made are reported to the Academy as part of the normal scientific reporting.

2. The intended use of the funding is changed.

If the research needs to be redirected so much that it is no longer covered by the original purpose, the Academy may accept a change in the purpose. The new purpose must also implement the purpose set out in the state budget for Academy of Finland funding, which, in general, is the funding of research projects and the promotion of research.

This alternative applies, for example, when the Academy funding granted for other purposes could be used immediately for research related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects, but when this use would so significantly differ from the original research plan that alternative 1 is not applicable.

Changing the purpose of use does not entail a possibility to extend the funding period.

(NB! Transfers between cost categories do not require a change in purpose.)

3. The project is interrupted in part or in full.

If the implementation of the whole project or an integral part of it is interrupted or slows down significantly, the Academy may extend the funding period in order to allow for the later use of the funding saved during the interruption. The Academy is also prepared to be flexible with the annual instalments.

In order to include a person’s salary expenses in the costs to be funded by the Academy, they must have done an equivalent amount of work related to the project.

If I’m unable to carry out my research plan because of problems caused by the pandemic, can the funding period be extended?

Yes, we can extend the funding period of your project if the implementation of the whole project or an integral part of it is interrupted or slows down significantly because of the pandemic. To extend a funding period, the funding recipient needs to apply for an extension, and there must be a justified reason for it. In addition, the site of research must support the extension. The Covid-19-related reason for the extension must also be specified in the application. Justified reasons:

  • significant problems in recruiting researchers for the project, such as researchers necessary for the implementation of the project
  • significant problems in gathering necessary research material/data or acquiring research equipment due to restrictions because of the pandemic; the collection of the material requires a physical presence and the material is concrete material that cannot be obtained otherwise
  • significant problems in researcher mobility, such as in carrying out visits within planned timeframes, due to the pandemic situation in the target country and the related travel restrictions
  • other circumstances that significantly impede the implementation of the research plan.

The reasons for extending the funding period due to exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic may be considered in ongoing Academy-funded projects, where the terms of the funding decision do not prevent a change in the cost estimate. The funding terms and conditions as well as any other special conditions that apply to the funding decision are attached to the decision notification.

It is not possible to extend the funding period in the university profiling (PROFI) funding scheme.

Projects funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) should consult the Division of Strategic Research for information on extending the funding period.

How do I apply for an extension to the funding period?

The extension shall be applied for in the Academy’s online services no later than two months before the end of the funding period. General guidance on extensions are available on the page How to use funding. For decision-making purposes, we require a confirmation that the site of research considers the extension feasible and that the site supports the application. The confirmation by a representative of the site of research is appended to the application and it should contain the following information:

  • title of project and decision number
  • original funding period
  • extension applied for
  • reason for extension.

The confirmation can be, for instance, an email that includes the above information. Please note that the representative of the site of research must be authorised to issue a commitment on behalf of the site.

If you have additional questions, please contact the presenting official of your funding decision. Our email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi.

What effects could the extension of the funding period have?

The extension of the funding period may affect the project PI’s eligibility for new funding from the Academy. More information on the effects on eligibility is given in the call texts.

If the extension concerns a Postdoctoral Researcher funding period, the funding recipient may exceptionally be paid salary for more than 36 months if the financial situation of the project so permits.

Please note, however, that it is not possible to obtain additional funding for a Postdoctoral Researcher’s, Academy Research Fellow’s or Academy Professor’s own salary, even if the funding period of the project is extended.

Can I receive additional funding to cover extra costs caused by the pandemic?

No, there is no additional funding available. However, when we go through the final reports of the projects, we will take into account that the pandemic may have had a significant impact on the way the research plans have been carried out.

Can the costs of a cancelled trip or visit that has already been paid be included in the eligible costs?

The research organisation should primarily explore the possibility of postponing the trip or visit or apply for compensation based on their travel insurance or, for example, from the airline. If the organisation will not receive compensation from elsewhere and is unable to postpone travel, the costs incurred may be included in the Academy’s funding in the usual manner.

I’m going to apply for Academy Research Fellow/Postdoctoral Researcher funding in September 2021. Covid-19 has prevented me from changing research environments after PhD completion. Do I meet the mobility requirement?

In the September 2021 call, we will take into account that the pandemic may have prevented applicants from meeting the mobility requirement. Learn more about the mobility requirement and exemptions from it in our blog post: “Researcher mobility in 2021”. Guidance on Covid-19-related exemptions from the mobility requirement will be published in the call texts in June 2021.

If you have questions about the mobility requirement, please email us at mobility@aka.fi.

If the pandemic continues for a longer period, how do I plan my mobility?

The Academy closely monitors the development of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on international cooperation and the opportunities  of researchers to move between research environments. One of our strategic objectives is to support the internationalisation of science and research.

Researchers need a wide range of experience from working in different research and work environments to be able to increase their independence. Mobility is of particular importance to early-career researchers in improving the quality of their research and supporting their career development. Gaining this kind of experience is important in spite of the pandemic. If physical mobility is impossible, we encourage researchers to take measures that promote the accumulation of experience from different research environments. This may include co-publishing and/or data sharing and applying for co-funding with researchers other than those in your own research environment.

The public examination of my doctoral thesis will be postponed, because the opponent is unable to enter the country. Can I apply for Postdoctoral Researcher funding even though I won’t obtain the doctorate until after the call?

A completed doctoral degree is required to be eligible to apply for the funding, and Postdoctoral Researcher funding cannot be applied for before the doctorate has been obtained. In many universities, it is also possible to organise public examinations remotely.

Will there be any flexibility in the annual instalments if I cannot use the funding as planned?

Under the terms and conditions of Academy funding, a significant need to change annual instalments should be announced in advance via the online services. This year, the use of the annual instalments may differ significantly from the instalments recorded in the decision. Now, contrary to what is usually the case, the PI of the project will not need to inform us in advance about the need for a change.

However, if the case involves changes that concern the funding to strengthen university research profiles (PROFI), please email us at profi@aka.fi.

Can the deadline for submitting the audit report be extended?

Under the Academy’s funding terms and conditions, the auditor’s report must be submitted to the Academy’s Registrar’s Office within three months of the end of the funding period. In these exceptional circumstances, however, this deadline is flexible. For the time being, the audit report may be submitted within six months of the end of the funding period. Projects or research organisations do not need to ask for the Academy’s permission for the possible delay.

Do you have questions or feedback for us?