International evaluation: Academy of Finland performs its tasks efficiently and to a high standard

1 Mar 2022

An international evaluation of the Academy of Finland has been completed. The overall conclusion is that the Academy is working well, given the budgetary and policy constraints within which it operates. In particular, the Academy is commended for its operational efficiency and for the high quality of its work in its expanding role in recent years.

The objective of the evaluation was to produce a comprehensive view of the activities of the Academy of Finland based on international and national expertise and to find means for improving the Academy’s impact, operation and structures. Commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the evaluation gives recommendations to the Government, the Ministry and the Academy on the future role of the Academy.

The evaluation highlights the fact that the Academy of Finland has taken on extensive new tasks in recent years. These include hosting the new Strategic Research Council, developing the funding of research infrastructures via the Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee, launching the PROFI programme to support research strategy development and renewal in the universities, and setting up the Finnish Flagship Programme. The Academy has done an outstanding job in performing these tasks. At the same time, however, the evaluation points out that less attention has been paid to the assessment and development of existing Academy funding instruments. The evaluators therefore propose that the Academy analyse the function of its funding instruments.

The evaluation report recommends increasing the amount of research funding provided by the Academy. An increased Academy research funding budget would support the government target of spending 4 per cent of GDP on R&D. Professor Johanna Myllyharju, the Chair of the Academy of Finland Board, said: “The Academy of Finland is a key actor that forms part of the research, development and innovation system as a funder of internationally high-quality research through peer review and open competition.”

Increasing the Academy’s funding budget would also tackle the success-rate problem, that is, increase the proportion of funded projects. The evaluators also propose an increase in the Academy’s budget for management and administration.

A major challenge for the future of the Academy is to sustainably maintain the Academy in its key role as a funder of research based on independent international peer review and in ensuring the quality of research. The evaluators also state that the Academy’s ability flexibly to link with other actors in the research system, both nationally and internationally, needs to be strengthened.

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