Information for funding recipients and applicants on the effects of the coronavirus epidemic

18 Mar 2020

On this page, we will gather information and news on how the coronavirus epidemic 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 at viestinta@aka.fi.

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 the coronavirus epidemic?

The coronavirus epidemic is understandably causing difficulties for Academy funding recipients and research projects in implementing 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 the implementation of the project in accordance with the original research plan becomes difficult, for example, because the project personnel are unable to carry out their tasks, there are three alternatives available. (If you are planning to choose alternatives 2 or 3, please contact the presenting official of your funding decision.)

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

It is possible to redirect research within the purpose referred to in the funding decision. This is part of the normal research process regardless of the epidemic. 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 epidemic and its effects, but when this use would be so significantly different 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. If further funding would be needed to carry out research on the coronavirus epidemic, the recipient could apply for it from the targeted call opening in April 2020 for research related to the COVID-19 epidemic and its mitigation.

(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 project or a part of it is interrupted or slows down significantly, the Academy may grant the project an extension of 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 coronavirus outbreak, can the funding period be extended?

Yes, we can extend the funding period for your project. To extend a funding period, the funding recipient needs to apply for an extension, and there must be a justified reason for it. The coronavirus-related reason for the extension must be specified in the application. The reason may relate, for example, to an inability to take samples due to travel and assembly restrictions or to some other circumstances that significantly impede the implementation of the research plan.

The coronavirus-related reasons for extending the funding period will only be considered in the case of projects whose funding period ends on 31 December 2021 or earlier.

We have personally contacted the PIs of consortia that are funded by the Strategic Research Council and that will end during this period. If there is a need to extend the funding period, the SRC will instruct what actions need to be taken.

The extension shall be applied for in the Academy’s online services no later than two months before the end of the funding period. If you have additional questions, please contact the presenting official for your funding decision. Our email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi.

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 coronavirus?

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 epidemic 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 to another time or apply for compensation based on their travel insurance or, for example, from the airline. If the research 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 applied for funding in September 2020 for a research post as Academy Research Fellow/Postdoctoral Researcher. However, my mobility period was cancelled or interrupted due to the coronavirus. How will this affect my eligibility, when I won’t meet the mobility requirement?

In the September 2020 call, we will take into account that the COVID-19 pandemic may prevent applicants from meeting the mobility requirement. For example, a mobility period planned for the spring may have been interrupted, or an agreed transfer to a new research environment may have been cancelled. In such cases, applicants were requested to explain in their application why and how COVID-19 prevented them from carrying out the required mobility. Instructions on how to explain this were provided in the September call texts. Please get in touch with the call’s contact persons, if you did not include such an explanation in your application.

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

The Academy will closely monitor 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. We will soon launch a joint debate with the scientific community on how international cooperation and mobility are changing and what kinds of measures the changes will require.

The public examination of my doctoral thesis will be postponed to autumn, 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 the Academy’s upcoming calls be postponed?

Our spring calls will open as planned, but the deadlines will be extended. The deadlines for the following open or upcoming calls have been changed:

  • Academy Programme: Health from Science, follow-up call for consortia
    Call opens: 1 April 2020
    Call closes: 12 May 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time

  • Research, Development and Innovation Programme ICT 2023: thematic calls 2020
    Call opens: 1 April 2020
    Call closes: 12 May 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time

  • Antarctic research 2020
    Call opens: 1 April 2020
    Call closes: 12 May 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time

  • FIRI 2020 call – roadmap for national research infrastructures in Finland 2021–2024
    Call opens: 1 April 2020
    Call closes: 16 June 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time

  • SRC programme ‘Climate Change and Humans’, full applications
    Call opened: 11 March 2020
    Call closes: 16 June 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time

  • SRC programme ‘Information Literacy and Evidence Informed Decision-Making’, full applications
    Call opened: 11 March 2020
    Call closes: 16 June 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time

No changes in schedule:

  • Competitive funding to strengthen university research profiles (Profi 6)
    Call opens: 7 May 2020
    Call closes: 16 June 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time (no change)

International calls

  • NOS-HS Nordic research workshops in the humanities and social sciences
    Call closes: 6 Apr 2020 at 16.15 local Finnish time
  • ERA-NET AquaticPollutants: Joint Transnational Call 2020
    Call closes: 18 May 2020

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. Under these circumstances, contrary to what is usually the case, the principal investigator of the project does 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, we ask you to contact us by email 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.

Who can draft a FIRI roadmap application for the 2020 call?

Normally, the person drafting a roadmap application must be the research organisation’s rector/vice rector, director general or a person of an equivalent level.

The Academy is responding to the challenges arising from changes in the operating environment by making it possible for a person who does not belong to the organisation’s senior management to submit the roadmap application. The application may be started and submitted by a person approved by the host organisation of the research infrastructure. The applicant is still a research organisation.

The commitment issuer must still be the research organisation’s rector/vice rector, director general or a person of an equivalent level.

Do you have questions or feedback for us?