Research infrastructures receive major funding from Research Council of Finland

1 Feb 2024

The Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee at the Research Council of Finland has awarded eleven projects more than 22 million euros in funding to build and upgrade national and international research infrastructures. This was the second and last set of decisions on the FIRI 2023 call. The funding granted under the call totals more than 52 million euros. FIRI funding supports the establishment and upgrading of high-quality research infrastructures, which lay a solid foundation for high-impact research, development and innovation.

Among other things, the funding will strengthen a research environment for the bioeconomy and circular economy that will upgrade forest raw materials and biobased waste and side streams into high-value products. The research infrastructure aims to support activities tackling global challenges such as climate change and resource sufficiency. In the field of chemical biology, funding was granted to a research infrastructure that will develop novel small molecules with specific biological activities that can be utilised in the pharmaceutical and other industries. Funding was also awarded to a research infrastructure focusing on wastewater monitoring, whose research applications will contribute to the green transition.

In addition, the funding will contribute to tackling the challenges of population ageing by supporting a project that focuses on the collection of longitudinal data on the Finnish population and the development of methods to analyse the data. Finnish expertise in cosmology and astronomy was also supported: funding was provided for the establishment of a cosmology data centre in Finland, which will allow Finland to participate in large international observational cosmology projects, and for Finland’s participation in the construction of the international Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

The granted funding will also support the development of integrated optics, an area with tremendous potential in many application areas, including biosensors, quantum computing and communication, to contribute to a digital future. Quantum photonics, a field that has grown enormously in international importance, also received substantial funding to support the development of a high-level research environment for quantum research. The research infrastructure, the first of its kind in the Nordic countries, will facilitate the study and utilisation of entanglement of single optical quanta under required special conditions. Another funded project will improve capabilities for nanofabrication, nanocharacterisation, and magnetic field measurements of quantum systems.

In addition to the above projects, funding was also provided for a research infrastructure in the field of printed intelligence. This research infrastructure plays a key role in developing next-generation electronics and photonics products, providing a world-class R&D environment for both researchers and technology developers. The Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä (JYFL-ACCLAB) secured funding to complete the construction of the novel MARA Low-Energy Branch (MARA-LEB) radioactive ion beam facility at JYFL-ACCLAB. The MARA-LEB facility will mean that nuclei from a large section of the chart of nuclides will be accessible. The new research opportunities provided by MARA-LEB will attract new users to JYFL-ACCLAB while expanding the portfolio of tools, techniques and science opportunities for existing users.

The applications for research infrastructure funding were reviewed by international panels of experts. In spring 2024, the Research Council of Finland will open a call for applications to the research infrastructure roadmap. Funding will be granted to infrastructures selected to the roadmap. The Research Council of Finland provides funding for the acquisition, establishment, strengthening and upgrading of nationally significant research infrastructures that promote scientific research.

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