€41m in Academy Project Funding granted for natural sciences and engineering research projects

21 Jun 2022

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering has granted funding for 67 Academy Projects. The projects include a total of 93 subprojects, and the total funding comes to around 41 million euros. The funding is allocated to the applicant’s research organisation, which manages the use of funding.

Academy Project Funding is among the Research Council’s most important funding instruments for promoting the quality, impact and renewal of research. The Research Council aims to fund research in a wide range of fields within natural sciences and engineering and to take into account the special characteristics of each field.

In the funding decisions, the Research Council put particular emphasis on scientific quality, novelty, breakthrough potential and feasibility. Several of the funded projects will also make use of international infrastructures or research programmes in which Finland is a member. The funded projects promise extensive societal impact and many of them aim to produce partial solutions to challenges related to sustainable development.

The quality of project applications addressed to the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering has been improving every year. In this round, all funded Academy Project applications received a rating of 5 or 6 in the scientific review.

Commenting on this year’s round, Professor Leena Ukkonen, Chair of the Research Council said: “The Research Council typically receives a lot of consortium applications. This time about one in four research plans were from consortia. Consortia accounted for about 30% of the funded research plans. This included many excellent consortia with research teams not only from different organisations but also from different sectors, even across research council boundaries. Promoting national research cooperation has been one of the long-term objectives of the Research Council. It was also nice to note that many consortia are led by women.”

Examples of funded projects

Johanna Närväinen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd) received funding for a project that aims to improve stress type detection accuracy with a wearable cortisol sensor. At present, stress can be identified fairly well, for example with smartwatches, but differentiating between types of stress is still difficult. The project will make use of machine learning methods and produce novel information of stress dynamics and background factors.

Ilmo Kukkonen (University of Helsinki), Malin Bomberg (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd) and Riikka Kietäväinen (Geological Survey of Finland) head a joint, cross-disciplinary project that combines microbiology, geophysics, geochemistry and hydrogeology. The project will explore subsurface life in the crystalline bedrock. The project is a contribution to the international ICDP-DAFNE project supported by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). The DAFNE project aims at drilling four scientific drill holes in the Pärvie fault system (PFS) in northern Sweden. Information on the behaviour of the bedrock can be of benefit, for example, in the safe storage of nuclear waste, in assessing the seismic risk of mines and dams, and in producing geothermal heat.

Pekka Kyösti (University of Oulu) will investigate radio propagation at frequencies above 100 GHz. The research will include developing measurement systems, conducting radio channel measurements and carrying out channel modelling. Radio propagation models facilitate research on future systems and testing of future communication devices. Future communication networks aim at higher data rates than current systems to enable novel applications.

Yongdan Li (Aalto University) aims to improve the energy efficiency and power density of non-aqueous redox flow batteries. Redox flow battery technology has been regarded as a highly efficient technology for storing intermittent renewable wind and solar power. Non-aqueous redox flow batteries have a much wider potential window than aqueous ones, because they enable a higher energy density. The results of the project will facilitate the commercially large-scale application of the batteries and thus contribute to achieving the EU carbon neutrality targets.

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