Academy of Finland grants Academy Project funding for biosciences, health and environmental research

30 May 2023

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment today granted Academy Project funding for 73 research projects, which include a total of 91 subprojects. The funding totals nearly 41 million euros. The application success rate was 18.5 per cent.

The aim of Academy Project funding is to promote the renewal and diversity of Finnish science and to improve the quality and scientific and other impact of research. The aim is to attain internationally as high a scientific standard of work as possible and to support scientific breakthroughs and top-tier international research collaboration.

Academy Project funding is intended for hiring a research team and for other research costs. The funding is granted to a Finnish university or research organisation that manages the use of funding on behalf of the Academy Project. Academy Project funding is granted for four years. The Academy of Finland monitors the impact of Academy-funded research.

When making funding decisions, the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment follows a set of scheme-specific criteria and guidelines. The key criterion in Academy Project funding is the scientific quality of the research. The funding is granted based on the results of international peer review.

In the autumn 2022 application round, the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment received very high-quality and well-written applications from all disciplines it represents. 43 per cent of the applications received an excellent rating of 5 or 6, and less than half (41%) of these could be funded. Professor Jussi Kukkonen, the Chair of the Research Council, said: “When the competition for funding gets this tough, it’s the details that count. Many excellent applications did not get funding again this year. The most common reasons for why applications were ultimately rejected were minor weaknesses in the implementation plan and insufficiently defined research hypotheses.”

The funding awarded was evenly distributed between the Research Council’s disciplines. Kukkonen added: “As a whole, the funded projects were very diverse – ranging from both basic and more applied research to highly interdisciplinary research.”

The Research Council does not require Academy Projects to have direct applicability or impact, but funds both high-quality fundamental research and the more applied research that emerges from it. The Research Council found that all of the projects that were granted funding contained a significant basic research element. Kukkonen said: “On the other hand, even in these kinds of projects, applicants would do well to identify where the basic research might lead in the future. Some applicants were able to describe this very well in their application”.

The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment received a large number of consortium applications (68). Funding was granted to 16 of these. In the case of consortia, the Research Council paid particular attention to the added value to be gained from cooperation between subprojects. Kukkonen said: “We appreciate that some of the consortium applications clearly highlighted the need to find new perspectives and new partners for the research. This reflects a desire to expand beyond one’s own comfort zone, which not only opens new scientific horizons but also develops the skills of researchers and their collaborative networks.”

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