Academy of Finland rolls out plan to revamp funding opportunities for early-career researchers

7 Feb 2022

The Academy of Finland has unveiled a plan to combine the funding opportunities for early-career researchers and rescind the mobility requirement. A new funding scheme for Academy Research Fellowships is set to be introduced in the autumn 2022 call. The reform will add flexibility to the funding of early-career researchers and specify the target group for the funding. Researchers and the research community will be consulted in the preparation of the reform.

On 4 February 2022, the Board of the Academy of Finland decided on a reform of the funding opportunities available to early-career researchers. The Academy is preparing a reform that would introduce a new funding scheme for Academy Research Fellowships as of autumn 2022.

After the introduction of the new funding scheme, no new calls for applications will be opened in the current schemes for Postdoctoral Researchers, Academy Research Fellows or early-career Academy Projects.

Researchers who have started this year or earlier with Postdoctoral Researcher, Academy Research Fellow or early-career Academy Project funding will continue under those terms and conditions until the end of their funding periods.

The reform is based on an extensive project carried out by the Academy. During the project, the Academy asked the research community what funding scheme or model could best support the most promising early-career researchers to progress towards the most demanding research positions.

Based on the results of the project, the Academy’s overall system of funding opportunities for early-career researchers is considered complicated and unnecessarily burdensome in administrative terms.

New Academy Research Fellowships offer simpler and more streamlined range of funding opportunities for early-career researchers

The reform is aimed at achieving as flexible funding terms and funding uses as possible. According to the plan, the application criteria will be eased by removing the current mobility requirement. The new funding scheme will reduce the administrative burden on all actors participating in the funding call. The goal is also to increase flexibility in funding use by adopting one single cost model instead of the two currently in use.

The objective of the new Academy Research Fellowships is to support the most promising and talented early-career researchers in their work and in building up competencies of a professional researcher to help them become part of the national and international research community.

According to the plan, applications for Academy Research Fellowships may be submitted by researchers who at the application deadline have completed their first doctorate at least two years but no more than seven years ago. As a rule, the funding decisions are made for periods of four years. The review of applications will devote special attention to the applicant’s career development and ability to generate scientific renewal.

Professor Johanna Myllyharju, Chair of the Academy Board, said: “The Academy of Finland is committed in its strategy to provide funding for high-quality, high-impact and pioneering research. Developing the funding of early-career researchers is also an important step in ensuring the renewal of science and the quality of research. We’re keen to identify and support researchers at the optimal career stage and who have the potential to make significant progress towards to more demanding research positions.”

In connection with the reform, the Academy will also develop the review of applications.

Special attention will be paid to the equal treatment and review of applicants who are at different career stages and represent different fields of research, and careful guidelines will be drawn up for review panels and research councils to guarantee this. In addition, the Academy will continue discussions with universities on the possibilities for recent doctoral graduates to become candidates for Academy Research Fellowships.

The key objectives of the reform and the main features of the new Academy Research Fellowships will be discussed with various stakeholders during February–March. The Academy will weigh the insights gained from these discussions in preparing the criteria for research funding decisions, which will be published in April 2022 at the latest.

Some of the changes to the Academy’s existing portfolio of funding opportunities can be rolled out in phases if this is considered expedient.

The progress and impacts of the reform will be communicated through various channels during the spring. 

Inquiries and more information

    Academy of Finland Communications
    Pekka Rautio, Communications Specialist
    tel. +358 295 335 040

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