Research Council of Finland selects new Academy Research Fellows and Academy Projects in natural sciences and engineering

14 Jun 2024

The Research Council of Finland’s Scientific Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering has selected 53 researchers to receive Academy Research Fellowship funding and 74 projects to receive Academy Project Funding. The new Academy Projects are composed of a total of 104 subprojects. The total funding comes to around 35 million euros for Academy Research Fellowships and around 50 million euros for Academy Projects.

In Academy Research Fellowships, the applicant success rate was approximately 14 per cent, whereas in Academy Projects, the application success rate was around 15 per cent. The Scientific Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering was able to fund only about one-third of the Academy Project applications and about a quarter of Academy Research Fellowship applications that had received the highest overall rating of 6 or 5 in the international peer review. The applications submitted to the Scientific Council were reviewed in a total of 31 panels.

The funding is granted to the host research organisations, which manage the use of the funding. The Research Council of Finland monitors the impact of funded research. In the Academy Research Fellow and Academy Project funding schemes, the funding is granted for four years.

The Scientific Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering aims to support a wide range of disciplines, but there was a worryingly low number of applications from economically important fields such as process technology, environmental engineering, chemical engineering, construction and municipal engineering, and mechanical engineering and manufacturing technology.

Academy Research Fellowships

Academy Research Fellowship funding is intended for early-career researchers on a fast career track who have formed international networks and who are conducting scientifically high-quality and high-impact research that contributes to scientific renewal. The funding can be used flexibly according to the research needs, for example for the researcher’s own salary, to hire a research team and to cover other research costs. As regards the Scientific Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering, the average funding per Academy Research Fellowship comes to around 660,000 euros.

The new Academy Research Fellowships in natural sciences and engineering are fairly evenly distributed across different host institutions, and more than a third of the funded posts are affiliated with the Research Council of Finland’s Finnish Flagships or Centres of Excellence. The grantees include researchers at different stages of their careers.

Professor Leena Ukkonen, Chair of the Scientific Council, said: “I’m particularly pleased that even applicants who only obtained their doctorates 2–3 years ago were successful in this tough competition. In addition, the proportion of female grantees was at a record high 25 per cent.”

Ukkonen added: “The Scientific Council found that some applicants had surprisingly little supervision experience for their career stage, but, in line with responsible researcher assessment, the merits of the applicants have been examined at both the review and the decision-making stages, taking into account the traditions of different disciplines.”

Academy Projects

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 Projects Funding supports scientific renewal and strengthens future research skills, including through additional funding for doctoral education.

Ukkonen said: “The funded projects are full of bold new initiatives and seek solutions to challenges with both scientific and societal relevance.”

Academy Project funding is intended for hiring a research team and for other research costs. The principal investigators of the funded projects include researchers at different career stages.

Ukkonen added: “The new Academy Projects are also fairly evenly distributed between different host institutions, which shows that high-quality natural sciences and engineering research is being carried out extensively across Finland. Around 30 per cent of the submitted applications were consortium applications. The consortium applications also received above-average ratings by the panels.”

The Research Council of Finland has made changes to the review process, and the reforms were introduced in the winter 2024 call. Applications for Academy Research Fellowship, Clinical Researcher and Academy Project funding were evaluated by pre-defined review panels composed of international experts. For the first time, applicants chose the most appropriate review panel for their application. Under the new procedure, the feedback to applicants includes all individual expert reviews and ratings. Applicants who proceeded to the panel review stage will also receive the panel summary and the final rating. The review reports include the names of the reviewers. The reform will provide the applicant with more detailed feedback from the review. Learn more: Research Council of Finland publishes panels for winter 2024 call, changes review process, Frequently asked questions about the winter call

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