Academy of Finland funds new research projects to support green and digital transition

15 Dec 2021

The Academy of Finland has decided on funding for 17 consortia under the call for research on key areas of green and digital transition. The funding totals 25 million euros and is based on the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and Finland’s Sustainable Growth Programme.

Excellent research plays a crucial role in reaching both national and international carbon neutrality and climate targets and in supporting the protection of biodiversity. In the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland, this is reflected in the objective of promoting the green transition and digitalisation. The green transition will support structural changes in the economy and the development of a carbon-neutral welfare society.

The projects selected for funding in the Academy of Finland’s call promote solutions to carbon neutrality and adaptation to climate change and advance related digital technology. The research topics of the projects relate, for example, to materials research in the circular economy, forest management, artificial intelligence and environmental sciences.

Professor Johanna Myllyharju, Chair of the Academy of Finland Board, said: “The funded projects support the call’s extensive objectives in a variety of ways. They represent the highest level of multidisciplinary Finnish research in the areas concerned and provide important initiatives for a cleaner, more sustainable and more productive world.”

The decisions were made taking into account that the projects to be funded must comply with the ‘Do No Significant Harm’ principle, whereby the projects must not include activities that cause significant harm to European environmental targets.

Examples of funded projects

Wildfires are one of the major global environmental threats posed by climate change. Eija Honkavaara (Finnish Geospatial Research Institute) heads a consortium that is developing AI-based technology for fast detection of wildfires using unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones. The multidisciplinary consortium comprises researchers from the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Oulu and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and an extensive collaboration network.

Markku Kulmala (University of Helsinki) heads a project focusing on efficient forest management strategies to strengthen the ability of forests to mitigate climate change. The researchers will analyse the impacts of forest management and a changing climate on forest carbon sinks and radiative forcing by combining comprehensive long-term datasets on boreal forests and the atmosphere with diverse forest growth modelling. The cross-disciplinary consortium includes scientists from the University of Helsinki, Natural Resources Institute Finland and the Finnish Meteorological Institute as well as collaborators from the forest sector.

Arttu Polojärvi (Aalto University) heads a research project that aims to promote the European Union’s objective to increase energy production by offshore wind farms. Many northern sea areas have been identified as suitable for offshore wind farms, but high sea-ice loads remain a challenge. It is therefore difficult to design cost-effective yet safe wind turbine units. Polojärvi’s project proposes to build a multi-physics modelling engine for forecasting future marine environmental and ice conditions, while simultaneously being detailed enough for the design and optimisation of cold-region offshore wind farms. The multidisciplinary consortium comprises researchers from Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.

The Academy of Finland is planning to organise a second call for research on green and digital transition in 2022, provided that the Finnish Parliament decides to allocate the necessary funding in the 2022 budget. If the call is implemented, the Academy will organise an information session on the funding opportunity in early 2022.


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