Frequently asked questions

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions for applicants planning to apply for funding in SRC calls. We strongly recommend that you also read the call text and the general funding conditions.

Who can apply?

The SRC’s calls are intended only for applications by research consortia. The consortium must be based on true collaboration where the work packages are distributed equally and appropriately between the parties.

Criteria for consortia:

  • They must consist at least three subprojects.
  • The teams must be from at least two different organisations.
  • The researchers must represent at least three different scientific disciplines.

The PI of the consortium and the work package leader must be a researcher with a doctoral degree and at least at the docent level. Also the subproject PIs must have doctoral degree.

In the SRC’s calls, an applicant can be a consortium PI only in one application. Consortium PI cannot act as a work package leader in other consortia. Directors of the Academy of Finland’s Centres of Excellence may apply for SRC funding, but not as consortium PIs.

An applicant can be a work package leader only in one application per each SRC programme.

A PI of a consortium that received funding from the 2015 or 2016 call is not eligible to apply for funding in the 2017 call.

What is the role of the subproject in the new SRC-consortium model?

A subproject is often the same as a research team and it consists of the staff working at the same site of research. An organisation (e.g. a university) may include several sites of research (e.g. departments) and thus also several subprojects. From the Academy of Finland’s perspective, ‘subproject’ is an administrative term, since each subproject gets its own funding decision from the Academy. The question whether two research teams from different departments of a single university are regarded as separate subprojects depends on the financial administration, that is, on whether they have the same overhead coefficients.

In consortiums, on the other hand, the research and interaction activities are implemented in work packages that may include people from more than one subproject.

How is the letter of intent different from the full application?

The letter of intent submitted in the first stage of the SRC's call is drafted as an individual application, not as a consortium application. The PI of the consortium is responsible for drafting and submitting the letter of intent and for checking the eligibility of work package leaders and that the leaders are participating in only one application per each programme.

The research and interaction plan (6 pages) as well as the CVs and lists of publications of the consortium PI and work package leaders are appended to the letter of intent. More information on the letter of intent and the appendices is available in Appendices 1 and 2 of the call text.

The full application (max. 19 pages) is submitted as a consortium application in the second stage of the call. The consortium PI submits the consortium’s joint application, which includes the subproject applications and appendices. The consortium PI can submit the consortium application only after all consortium subprojects have completed their own applications in the online services. For more information on the full application and the appendices, see Appendices 4 and 5 of the call text.

What is the duration of the consortium project?

The SRC grants funding for long-term research projects. In practice, this means that the funding is granted for 3–6 years, in accordance with the memorandum of justification for the Act on the Academy of Finland.

The funding period for the 2017 programme is four years (2017–2021). The funding period for the 2018 programmes is six years (3 + 3 years, 2018–2023), with a mid-term evaluation after the first three-year period.

What costs are eligible?

The funding granted by the SRC covers all costs incurred under the full cost model. Host organisations need not contribute to the costs with their own funding. Unlike the Academy of Finland’s other funding for research projects, the SRC’s funding for consortium projects does allow applicants to apply for funding for PI and coordinator salaries in full. Interaction and impact activities can also be included in the costs to be funded.

Can business companies apply?

Yes, they can. If the consortium includes organisations that are pursuing a commercial activity, the application will come under the terms and conditions of the Finnish Act on Discretionary Government Transfers and the EU’s state aid rules (read more on the website of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy).

Before the start of funding, the consortium must agree on any IPRs that may arise. IPRs may be transferred to a third party at market price (read more in the general funding conditions, section 10.1).

How is the societal relevance of the consortium reviewed?

The review questions are available in the call text: see Appendix 3 for the letter of intent and Appendix 6 for the full application.

Who makes the decisions, politicians or an academic review panel?

The answer depends on what decisions are referred to. The Finnish Government decided to establish the funding instrument for strategic research. The Government also decides annually on the themes for strategic research, based on proposals received from the SRC. The Government’s decision-making power ends there. The SRC makes the decisions on the programmes and the projects to be funded within these. The funding decisions are based on reviews conducted by independent panels of both Finnish and foreign experts on relevance and science. Ministry officials or politicians do not have any say or influence in the project selection process.

Can consortium PIs have ongoing Academy Project funding?

Yes, they can. The only limitation at this point concerns directors of Centres of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland. CoE directors cannot simultaneously be principal investigators for an SRC consortium.

Can a person be a consortium PI in one application and a subproject PI in another?

A person can be a consortium PI only in one application. A person can be a subproject PI only in one application per each SRC programme.

Will there be new programmes next year, or will next year’s call include these same programmes?

There is no definite answer to this question. We will discuss themes annually, and there will be new themes at some point.

How will the international reviewers be briefed?

Academy officials will brief all reviewers about the objectives, programmes, review process and review questions concerning the strategic research funding. The independent reviewers will rate the applications and the SRC will make the final funding decisions.

When will the panel review report be available?

Applicants will receive the review reports after the decisions have been made.

Should the deputy PI of the consortium be stationed at the same institution as the PI? Do the same competence criteria apply to deputy PIs? Is the deputy PI position only titular in cases where the PI isn’t going anywhere?

The deputy PI does not necessarily have to be from the same organisation as the PI, although such a scenario might be more practical and easier in terms of administrative and transitional processes. There are no formal competence requirements for deputy PIs. Nevertheless, you should take into account the deputy PI’s abilities and capacity to take up the PI position if necessary.

The call text says that the funding is primarily granted to teams of researchers at the postdoctoral level. So the teams must not include researchers without a doctoral degree? Or, should we interpret the text to mean that funding is not granted to dissertation work as such, but that the teams may include individual researchers without a doctoral degree?

One of the basic pillars of SRC funding is high-quality scientific research. That is why the SRC urges teams to hire researchers at the postdoctoral level. The teams may hire staff according to the requirements of the research – and this includes researchers working on their dissertations. However, the SRC has wanted to emphasise that it would prefer to see teams consisting of postdoctoral researchers.

Can the proposed project include small businesses, either as consortium parties or as providers of outsourced services?

Yes, the consortium project may include businesses. If the service or expertise is outsourced, the funding recipient should find out whether the outsourcing comes under the provisions of the Finnish Act on Public Contracts. In other words, the funding recipient must find out whether the contract must be put up for tender (read more in the general funding conditions, section 7).

How are the matching funds for Horizon 2020 projects calculated?

A calculation example is available on the Academy of Finland’s website.

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