Academy of Finland – NIH joint call pilot: thematic areas of the Finnish Research Flagships
- During this joint call pilot, applicants from Finland can participate in certain NIH funding opportunities with proposal due dates between 5 February and 7 May 2021.
- ‘Intention to submit’ is sent by the Finnish PI to the Academy at least eight weeks and final draft proposal at least four weeks before NIH deadline. Final proposal is submitted to NIH by the US PI.
- The Academy is prepared to fund the Finnish components of the collaborative US-FI projects with a maximum of 3 million euros in 2021, maximum funding for five-year project is 500,000 euros. Funding is conditional on the approval of a memorandum of understanding, which is currently being drafted, by both AKA and NIH. The approval is expected to take place in early 2021.
- Academy funding will be granted only for proposals that receive a ‘Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding’ letter from the Academy and are selected for funding in the respective NIH funding call.
- If the Academy has issued 'Confirmation of Eligibility' letters for a sum potentially significantly exceeding the planned funding of no more than 3 million euros, it will no longer issue new letters, and the call may be closed prematurely.
The AKA-NIH Partnership Programme, launched in November 2020, is an initiative between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Academy of Finland (AKA). Under the Programme, a ‘single-proposal, single-review’ mechanism is facilitated by NIH through their existing grants programmes. From the perspective of AKA, all proposals submitted under the auspices of the Partnership must have significant research involvement from researchers from both countries. Funding will be provided for collaborative research activities falling within the missions of participating NIH’s Institutes and Centers and the thematic areas of AKA’s Finnish Research Flagships.
This call announcement outlines the objectives, eligibility, funding available, application procedures and evaluation for submission of a pre-proposal for confirmation of eligibility for funding to AKA and provides a summary of the standard process NIH will use for evaluating and selecting proposals for funding. The application procedure is described in detail in the section ‘Background and objectives’.
The requirements in this call announcement relate only to applicants applying funding from AKA.
Before you fill in the application in the online services (SARA), carefully read the call text and the ‘Read more’ section, especially the funding terms and conditions. If the call text and the funding terms and conditions conflict, the terms and conditions should always be considered primary. This call text is published only in English.
Read the full call text on this page. Click on the link to print the text or save it in PDF format.
Background and objectives
The AKA-NIH Partnership Programme, launched in November 2020, is an initiative involving funding agencies from Finland and the United States of America (US). In Finland, the partner agency is the Academy of Finland (AKA). In the US, the partner agency is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH consists of multiple Institutes, Centers and Offices, which receive applications for various grant types and durations. Under the AKA-NIH Programme, a ‘single-proposal, single-review’ mechanism is facilitated by NIH through their existing grant programmes. From the perspective of AKA, all proposals submitted under the auspices of the Partnership must have significant research involvement from researchers from both countries.
In Finland, the Partnership is managed by the Flagship Programme Subcommittee. The Subcommittee oversees the strategic and operational aspects of the Finnish partners and guides, monitors and evaluates their collaborative efforts.
The overall goal of the AKA-NIH Partnership Programme is to increase research collaboration between Finland and the US. This collaboration aims to generate valuable discoveries and innovations that will lead to enhancements in multiple areas of science and technology and that are within the goals and interests of AKA and NIH – for instance, population health and disease prevention.
The Partnership will achieve its goals by leveraging existing funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), application receipt and peer review mechanisms of NIH while supporting the research components conducted by Finnish investigators through funding by AKA. No specific call for proposals will be issued from NIH since NIH grant programmes are focused on scientific investigations by the best teams or researchers, many of which include international partnerships. Funding agencies fund the elements of joint, integrated research projects undertaken in their own country. The collaborative projects will be evaluated according to standard NIH review criteria: significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach and scientific environment. More details on NIH peer-review and review criteria are available online.
To be eligible for submission to NIH with a Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding letter from AKA, the project must provide significant added value that is not achievable by the Finnish principal investigator (PI) working alone. Funding through AKA will be provided for applications that are selected for funding by NIH through their standard procedures. No special consideration will be given to collaborative AKA-NIH proposals: AKA-NIH proposals will compete head to head with non-AKA-NIH partnership proposals submitted to the same funding opportunity at NIH. Even though the Finnish components are paid for by AKA, projects are expected to adhere to NIH grant requirements for disclosure of financial conflicts of interest, data and resource sharing, and publications (more details on the requirements are available online).
To be eligible for consideration for AKA funding within the Partnership, support will be provided on relevant thematic areas in which Finland has widespread demonstrated expertise, represented by the thematic areas of the Finnish Research Flagships:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Digital Precision Cancer Medicine
- Inequalities, Interventions and New Welfare State
- Materials Bioeconomy
- Wireless Communication Technologies
- Forest-Human-Machine Interplay
- Atmosphere and Climate
- Gene, Cell and Nano Therapy
- Immune System
How the Programme works
The applicants from both countries will write a joint proposal typically in the R01 (or other relevant) format required by NIH. It is the responsibility of the US partner to submit the proposal to NIH for review. During this joint call pilot, applicants from Finland can participate in NIH funding opportunities with proposal due dates between 5 February and 7 May 2021. NIH’s funding opportunities are available online. See also NIH’s announcement of the Partnership.
The US partner will have overall responsibility for the conduct and reporting on the grant to NIH. Proposals are evaluated in accordance with the standard NIH merit review criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed effort. AKA has agreed to accept the assessments of NIH with regard to the suitability for funding of individual proposals.
It is required that the Finnish researchers participating in the joint research project will submit a proposal separately to AKA in accordance with the guidelines in this call text. The application procedure is described below.
Notification of Intention to Submit
In order to be considered for funding by AKA, eligible applicants (see section ‘Who can apply’) must have identified a US collaborator who is willing to develop a joint grant application. The Finnish principle investigator (PI) must send a mandatory ‘Intention to Submit’ form to AKA using the template provided (see below). The document must be submitted to AKA at least eight weeks before the corresponding full proposal deadline at NIH.
The information required is summarised below and the ‘Intention to Submit’ form can be accessed here. Please submit the form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact details of the PIs from both countries
- US Target Institute/Centre, Target programme/FOA/call, submission deadline (if an applicant wishes to submit to a non-standard R01 deadline they must indicate this on their Intention to Submit, and provide written confirmation of the non-standard deadline)
- Proposed topic, keywords, collaboration and link to the thematic areas of the Finnish Research Flagships
- Indicative costs to be requested from AKA
- Indicative total budget figure to be requested from the US funder
The information in the form will be used for planning purposes, including a preliminary eligibility assessment, by AKA. It is important to note that draft full proposals (see below) will not be accepted if the ‘Intention to Submit’ form has not been submitted within the specified timeframe.
Draft proposal submission
A close‐to‐final draft of the full proposal (i.e. a version of the proposal being prepared) for submission to NIH, (typically R01 or equivalent Research Project Grant programme) in NIH format, must be submitted to AKA via the AKA online services at least four weeks before the corresponding NIH deadline. Draft proposals will only be accepted from applicants who have submitted an ‘Intention to Submit’ form no later than eight weeks before the NIH submission deadline.
Applicants should prepare their proposal in collaboration with the US investigator(s) and based on the guidelines and criteria outlined in the relevant NIH programme call and associated documentation. AKA will accept a draft version of the proposal in NIH format. For more details on submitting a draft proposal to AKA, please refer to the section ‘Application parts and guidelines’.
Following submission of the draft proposal, AKA will assess the proposal to:
- verify the eligibility of the Finnish applicant(s)
- confirm that the topic links to the thematic areas of the Finnish Research Flagships
- determine if there is evidence of significant participation by partners from both countries
- pre‐approve the budget for the project
- if supportive, provide a ‘Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding’ letter to the Finnish applicant for inclusion in the full proposal submission to NIH.
Please note that the Finnish site(s) of research must commit to administering and funding the project before the ‘Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding’ will be provided. Read more about the commitment by the site of research.
Note also that the amount of funding available for the individual investigator collaborative US-FI projects may affect the pre-approval of the budget (and the following issuance of the ‘Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding’ letter). If AKA has issued 'Confirmation of Eligibility' letters for a sum potentially significantly exceeding the planned funding of no more than 3 million euros, it will no longer issue new letters, and the call may be closed prematurely. More details on the available funding is provided in the section ‘Funding to be applied for and funding period’.
AKA will issue a ‘Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding’ letter outlining the level of budget commitment subject to NIH selecting the proposal for funding following established NIH grant review/selection processes. AKA will issue a single ‘Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding’ letter to the AKA applicant(s), who is responsible for ensuring its inclusion in the final proposal submission to NIH by the US PI.
Submission of final proposal to NIH
The US partner will be responsible for submitting the final proposal including the Confirmation of Eligibility for Funding letter to NIH via their institution. Please note that the US institution has full responsibility over the conduct of the project, the reporting requirements to NIH and adherence to all requirements and expectations for NIH grant awards. Requirements for financial conflict of interest, publication and data and resource sharing apply to foreign components of research grants, whether they receive NIH funding or not (more details on the requirements are available online).
Who can apply?
Applicants are recommended to contact AKA early on to check national eligibility requirements. In general, the eligibility criteria of the Academy Project funding scheme apply as outlined below.
The AKA funding can be applied for by individual research teams or consortia composed of two or more research teams from Finnish research organisations. The consortium parties may represent one or several research organisations.
In addition to a doctoral degree, the PI of the proposed project must also have other significant scientific merits. Usually the PI is a researcher at the professor or docent (adjunct professor) level. In addition, the applicant must have a close connection with Finland to support the implementation of a multi-year project. This connection must be evident from the application.
Special terms and restrictions
To be eligible for consideration by AKA, each proposal must have a minimum of one applicant from Finland and the US, and significant research participation by both countries. The collaborative projects must add significant added value that is not achievable by the PI working alone, and the topics proposed must fall under the thematic areas of the Finnish Research Flagships. Emphasis should also be placed on the PIs having relevant experience in their field of research, in addition to degree requirements.
A PI requesting funding from AKA can have only one active AKA-NIH partnership proposal. A proposal is considered active from its submission until the date of the funding decision.
Members of the Board, research councils and the Strategic Research Council of AKA will not be granted AKA funding during their terms.
Funding cannot be granted to a person who has participated in the planning of the call to an extent likely to give them a comparative advantage over other applicants.
We will not process an application if the applicant has been found guilty of research misconduct in the three years preceding the year of the call.
Funding to be applied for and funding period
In general, the funding comes under the conditions and restrictions applicable to Academy Projects. For more details, see the latest version of the funding terms and conditions on the AKA website.
Finnish collaborations with US institutions for the NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01) or equivalent Research Project Grants (typical project duration 4–5 years) are typically supported under this joint call pilot. Maximum project duration is five years. The funding period must be within the funding period identified in the NIH grant mechanism to which the full proposal is submitted for.
The AKA funding is granted to sites of research in Finland (usually universities or research institutes). The PI of the funded project must have a close connection with Finland to support the implementation of a multi-year project. The funded researchers may, however, spend time working abroad during their funding period.
In this joint call pilot, the AKA is prepared to fund the Finnish components of the collaborative US-FI projects with a maximum of 3 million euros in 2021. Funding is conditional on the approval of a memorandum of understanding, which is currently being drafted, by both AKA and NIH. The approval is expected to take place in early 2021. The Flagship Program Subcommittee is prepared to grant a maximum of 500,000 euros for a five-year project. Oversubscription of the planned AKA funding budget of no more than 3 million euros for the collaborative FI-US projects will be restricted at the draft proposal submission stage. For more details on how the programme works, see section “Background and objectives”.
Funding is primarily intended for the salaries of full-time researchers working on the project and for other research costs. The PI’s salary costs may, under certain limitations, be incorporated into the total project costs. Read more about the salary of the research project’s PI on the AKA website.
The close-to-final draft application must contain a funding plan drafted in line with the full cost model, including the funding to be applied for from AKA (up to 70% of the total project costs). Read more about the full cost model.
AKA funding cannot be used for economic activity.
What is required from the site of research?
We require that the site of research (e.g. university) provides the research project with all necessary basic facilities. These are determined based on the nature of the research and are the same as those available to other research staff at the site: office and laboratory premises, equipment (incl. computer equipment), and telecommunications, telephone, mailing, copying and library services. When accepting the funding, the site of research is responsible for ensuring that necessary statements and permits from ethics committees have been obtained before the start of the project. The site of research also commits to ensuring that the data management plan can be implemented at the site of research, and that the measures to be taken comply with good data management practice. Read more in the guidelines on the commitment by site of research.
The application must also include the overheads percentage, indirect employee costs and coefficient for effective working hours of the site of research. The site of research will see to that this information is kept up to date in the online services.
When the site of research is a university or a research institute, as a rule, the funding must be applied for VAT included. Consult the financial administration at the site of research for more information. The AKA funding may also cover VAT costs, but only on certain conditions (see Value added tax and read more in the funding terms and conditions).
In the close‐to‐final draft application, provide a cost estimate including an estimate of the annual amount of funding needed, itemised by type of expenditure. Also include a funding plan that shows all funding granted for the project as well as funding that will be provided by the site of research if the project is launched. Before submitting your application, you must agree with the administration at your own organisation on the contribution of the site of research to the funding of the project. Only costs that pass through the books of the site of the research must be included in the total costs. Applicants must check with their own organisation whether the funding planned as the own funding contribution suits this purpose. The funding applied for from AKA must not exceed 70% of the total project costs. The cost estimate must be realistic.
All research costs must be justified in the free-text field in the online services under ‘Funding for the project’.
How applications are submitted and become pending, publicity of applications
How to submit and supplement the application
During this joint call pilot, applicants from Finland can participate in NIH funding opportunities with proposal due dates between 5 February and 7 May 2021.
The Finnish PI must send a mandatory ‘Intention to Submit’ form to AKA at least eight weeks before the corresponding full proposal deadline at NIH. A close‐to‐final draft of the full proposal for submission to NIH must be submitted to AKA via the AKA online services at least four weeks before the NIH deadline. Draft proposals will only be accepted from applicants who have submitted an ‘Intention to Submit’ form no later than eight weeks before the corresponding NIH submission deadline. The deadlines also apply to consortia. For more details, study how the programme works in the section ‘Background and objectives’.
Make sure to submit the close-to-final application in good time before the deadline. The system will only accept applications that contain all obligatory information. The joint consortium application is submitted by the consortium PI. The PI can submit the consortium application only after all subprojects have tagged their applications as complete.
You can edit and supplement the application until the deadline. You can make changes to a submitted application (e.g. change appendices), but you must make them before the deadline. If you notice that your application lacks important information after the deadline, immediately get in touch with the call’s contact person, so that they can reopen the application for you. Make sure to re-submit the application after you have supplemented it. We will consider the additions insofar as it is possible in view of the call procedure. We may ask applicants to supplement their applications. If the applicant has not supplemented the application by the given deadline, we may decide not to process the application. Applicants must make sure that their contact details (email address) are up to date.
How the application becomes pending
According to section 17 of the Finnish Administrative Procedure Act and section 8 of the Act on Electronic Services and Communication in the Public Sector, the sender is responsible for the application arriving by the set deadline. An application becomes pending at AKA when the online application and the obligatory appendices have been submitted in the online services. The system will confirm a successful submission by sending an email to the address provided by the applicant.
Publicity and data protection
Except for the research plan, plan of intent, abstract and interim report, which are primarily confidential, the application and its appendices are public documents. For example, the CV is a public document and as such must not include any confidential information. This publicity is based on the Finnish Act on the Openness of Government Activities. AKA is committed to following regulations on data protection. The GDPR-compliant privacy statement concerning the research funding process is available on our website under Data protection.
Application parts and guidelines
The applicants from both countries will write a joint proposal typically in the R01 (or other relevant) format required by NIH. It is the responsibility of the US partner to submit the proposal to NIH for review.
In order to be considered for funding by AKA, applicants who are eligible must have identified a US collaborator who is willing to develop a joint grant application. The PI from Finland must send a mandatory ‘Intention to Submit’ form to AKA using the template provided. The document must be submitted to AKA at least eight weeks before the corresponding full proposal deadline at NIH. For more details, please refer to the section ‘Background and objectives’ of the call text.
A close‐to‐final draft of the full proposal for submission to NIH, (typically R01 or equivalent Research Project Grant programme) in NIH format, must be submitted to AKA via the AKA online services at least four weeks before the corresponding NIH deadline. Draft proposals will only be accepted from applicants who have submitted an ‘Intention to Submit’ form no later than eight weeks before the NIH deadline.
Applicants should prepare their proposal in collaboration with the US investigator(s) and based on the guidelines and criteria outlined in the relevant NIH programme call and associated documentation. AKA will accept a draft version of the proposal in NIH format; however, the sections/documents listed below must be provided upon submission via the AKA online services for AKA to accurately and fairly assess the level of support required.
Most of the links below take you to the A–Z index of application guidelines on our website.
The online application contains the following parts
- Personal details
- Degrees (most recent one first); parental leaves etc. may be filled in under ‘Additional information’
- Titles of docent and professorships
- CV following the template, no more than two pages
Consortium parties (if applicable)
- Note that the US collaborator is not listed as a consortium party here, but on the ‘Collaborators’ tab
- Details on each party (name, email address, organisation and country)
- Read the guidelines for consortium applications.
- Details on the site of research
- Title of research project in English and Finnish/Swedish
- Research fields (at least one, no more than five). See the research field classification.
- Keywords in English and Finnish/Swedish
- Maximum length 2,500 characters including spaces
- Brief overview of scientific and societal objectives, research methods and data as well as expected research results and impact
- Read more about the abstract.
Most relevant publications
- Up to ten of your most important project-relevant publications; no more than 20 publications in total for consortium projects
- You can retrieve publication details from the VIRTA publication information service. Also see our how-to guide for the online services.
- Details on publications may also be entered manually. Obligatory information: author(s), title, year of publication, name of series/journal, type of publication (will not show in the PDF version of the application).
- Enter information on planned national and international mobility within the project, itemised by person.
- See more information on mobility.
- Note that the US collaborator should be listed here.
- Project collaborators, itemised by collaborator (name, organisation, country)
- If necessary, append a letter of commitment. See the guidelines on the letter of commitment.
- Research infrastructures: Indicate what kinds of equipment, resources or data reserves provided by national or international research infrastructures the project plans to use. The menu includes infrastructures included in Finland’s national roadmap and/or ESFRI’s roadmap. Other possible infrastructures are entered in a free-text field. Read more about research infrastructures.
- Centres of Excellence in Research: Read more about Centres of Excellence.
- Finnish Flagships: Read more about the Finnish Flagship Programme.
- Ethical permission for project (yes/no)
- Found guilty of research misconduct (yes/no). We will not process a funding application if the applicant has been found guilty of research misconduct in the three years preceding the year of the call.
- See the ethical guidelines.
Funding for the project
- The project’s funding follows the full cost model. The AKA funding contribution to the research costs comes to no more than 70%.
- Before you can fill in the cost estimate, you must first select the site of research on the tab ‘General information’.
- The site of research maintains the following percentages: effective working hours, indirect employee costs, overheads percentage and VAT
- Enter the funding period.
- Enter salaries and other costs.
- Enter other funding sources and their funding contributions. You must immediately notify us if you receive funding from other sources for the same purpose after your application to AKA has been submitted.
- Justify the funding to be applied for. The cost estimate must be realistic. Provide the total budget figure (USD) to be requested from the US funder by the US PI here (section ‘Justification for the cost estimate’).
- The PI’s salary costs may, under certain limitations, be incorporated into the total project costs: for project management and/or research. The justifications are entered on the tab ‘Salary of principal investigator’ in the online services.
- Consult the administration at your site of research when filling in budget details. Read more about the funding in the call text under “Funding to be applied for and funding period”.
- Commitment by site of research. Make sure you have a commitment from your site of research (usually a university or research institute) to supporting the project. Read more in the guidelines on the commitment by site of research and in the ‘Appendices’ section below.
Salary of principal investigator
- Justifications, if salary costs for the PI are included in the funding plan
- The PI’s salary costs may, under certain limitations, be incorporated into the total project costs: for project management and/or research.
- If the PI does not have a permanent employment relationship, include a salary plan for the PI for the entire funding period.
Public project description
- Maximum length 1,000 characters including spaces
- Popular and reader-friendly description of the research project in English and Finnish/Swedish
- The public description helps AKA to disseminate information on the research project. The project description is also stored at research.fi, which makes available information on research conducted in Finland.
- Read the guidelines on the public project description.
- You can authorise another person to supplement or view your application.
- Start by entering the person’s name in the field.
- The person must have an account in the AKA online services (SARA).
- You cannot authorise more than one person at a time to edit a field in your application, and you cannot edit that same field while the authorisation is active.
- Do not authorise yourself.
- See technical instructions on the authorisation process in the how-to guides for the online services.
- Appendices must be PDF files.
- A close‐to‐final draft of the full proposal for submission to NIH, (typically R01 or equivalent Research Project Grant programme) in NIH format. In case of a consortium application, this document is provided only by the consortium PI.
- Complete list of publications. Read the guidelines on the structure of the list of publications.
- Free-form commitment by site of research in which the site commits to administering and funding the project. Make sure you have a commitment from your site of research (usually a university or research institute) to supporting the project. Read more in the guidelines on the commitment by site of research.
- Letter of commitment: See the guidelines on the letter of commitment.
- You can submit the application when you have filled in or attached all the necessary information.
- A red warning triangle on the tab tells you that some information is missing.
- You can supplement the application until the four-week limit. Resaving will replace the earlier version.
- If you want to supplement the application after the four-week limit, please get in touch with the contact persons listed in the call text.
- If the applicant has ongoing AKA funding, they must draw up an interim report in the online services on each ongoing project before the call deadline. Read the guidelines on drafting the interim report.
- See the how-to guides for the online services.
How the application will be reviewed
The collaborative US-FI projects will be evaluated according to standard NIH review criteria: significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach and environment. More details on NIH peer-review and review criteria are available online.
The final assessment on the scientific merit of the proposal lies with the NIH peer review process. AKA has agreed to accept the assessments of NIH with regard to the suitability for funding of individual proposals.
Funding decisions at AKA will be made by the Flagship Programme Subcommittee.
Applicants from Finland participating in successful applications will be invited to append their existing applications (close‐to‐final draft of the full proposal) in the AKA online services with the final NIH version of the submitted proposal and the review report provided on the proposal (if applicable). It is the responsibility of the applicant from Finland to request these documents from the US applicant.
You will receive an email notification after the funding decision has been made. After receiving the email, you can log in to the online services with your user ID to view the decision and its justifications. A positive funding decision will be accompanied by the terms and conditions of funding.
How to receive the funding
A positive funding decision is accompanied by the terms and conditions of funding. Make sure to check the decision and accept the funding and its terms in the online services without delay. This must be done via the AKA online services within eight weeks of the decision date, unless otherwise stated in the special conditions of the decision notification.
Before you accept the funding, update the popular project description (if necessary), make changes to the annual instalments (if necessary) and attach the data management plan (drafted according to the guidelines). Once you have accepted the funding, the system will send a notification to the commitment issuer at the site of research. That person must also accept the granted funding.
The funds can be paid only after the applicant and the representative of the site of research have accepted them. The system will then notify the funding to the finance administration of the site of research, whereupon the funds will be ready to use.