Call for applications: special funding for research on COVID-19 epidemic and the mitigation of its effects
- Applied for by research organisations, each organisation with one application; the research organisation compiles together the plans of the sub-applications.
The objective of the Academy of Finland’s special funding for research on the COVID-19 epidemic is to support and accelerate research into the current coronavirus epidemic and the mitigation of its effects and to support the utilisation of the research in society. The aim is to quickly redirect research already underway to support the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic and reduce its consequences.
In the application, the research organisation shall describe its research projects (i.e. sub-applications) that are currently carrying out Academy-funded research that is relevant for this call. The research of these sub-applications is directly related to or can be directed towards the COVID-19 epidemic and the mitigation and/or prevention of its effects. The application must include a credible plan on the opportunities of the sub-applications and their principal investigators to support society through research or by other means in coping with the epidemic and with its effects on both society and individuals.
Research funded by the Academy of Finland must be public and carried out following the principles of good scientific practice. The research must be ethical, follow the principles of sustainable development and make its results, material and data openly accessible.
Before you log in to the online services (SARA) to fill in the application, make sure to carefully read the call text below as well as the Read more section, especially the terms and conditions.
If the call text and the funding terms and conditions conflict, the terms and conditions should always be considered primary. If the translated English or Swedish version of the call text is in conflict with the Finnish call text, the Finnish version should always be considered primary.
Read the full call text on this page. Click on the link below to print the text or save it in PDF format.
Background and objectives
The objective of the Academy of Finland’s special funding for research on the COVID-19 epidemic is to support and accelerate research into epidemic and the mitigation of its effects and to support the utilisation of the research in society.
The call is aimed at research projects in all fields of research that deal with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 epidemic caused by it, the societal impacts of the epidemic and the prevention and/or mitigation of its negative consequences. The aim is to redirect research already underway to support the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic and reduce its consequences.
The funding aims
- to support, for example, research that is relevant to the theme, topical and feasible
- to facilitate making research data and outputs openly available to other researchers and society
- to promote the use of research knowledge in impact mitigation and to utilise research-based knowledge and know-how more widely in society.
The funding cannot be used to launch entirely new research or new research consortia, but to redirect ongoing activities or make wider use of the results of research relevant to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Who can apply?
The funding can be applied for by research organisations (universities, higher education institution, research institutes and other research organisations) that have Academy-funded research relevant to the objectives of this call. The principal investigators of the projects must have ongoing Academy funding at the time of the call (on the closing date 28 April 2020).
Special terms and restrictions
Consortium applications will not be accepted. Only one sub-application may be submitted from the same project (decision) funded by the Academy. Projects that have been funded through international joint calls, for example ERA-NET calls, are not eligible to participate in the call.
Members of the Board, research councils and the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland will not be granted Academy 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.
Funding to be applied and funding period
Funding will be granted for a fixed term. The research organisation may apply for up to 200,000 euros in funding per sub-application mentioned in the application. The call’s total funding budget is approximately 8.45 million euros.
The funding period can start retroactively on 1 February 2020 and end on 31 December 2021.
The funding is primarily intended towards the salaries of researchers who work full-time on the project and for other project costs.
The application must contain a funding plan drafted in line with the full cost model, including the funding to be applied for from the Academy (up to 70% of the total project costs). Read more about the full cost model.
The Academy’s funding can be applied for to cover the same costs as in the original sub-application project, as well as to support the open access to research data and outputs for researchers and society.
Academy funding cannot be used for economic activity,
Research team salaries
As a rule, staff hired with Academy research funding must have an employment relationship. We recommend that they be hired for a period of employment no shorter than the funding period, unless a shorter contract is necessary for special reasons dictated by the implementation of the research project. Short-term research, study or other assignments may also be carried out in the form of outsourced services, if it is determined to be necessary for the project.
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 receiving the funding, the site of research undertakes to ensure that the plans of the sub-application may also be implemented in exceptional circumstances and within the planned time, taking into account the regulations of public authorities. 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.
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 Academy’s 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 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 sub-application 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. As the total project costs must not include any costs that do not pass through the books of the site of research, you must check with your own organisation whether the funding planned as the own funding contribution suits this purpose. The Academy funding must not exceed 70% of the total costs of the sub-application. The cost estimate must be realistic.
All research costs must be justified in the free-text field in the online services under ‘Project funding’.
How applications are submitted and become pending, publicity of applications
The deadline for applications is 28 April 2020 at 16.15 Finnish time. The deadline is non-negotiable.
How to submit and supplement the application
The application is started by a responsible person approved by the university. The completed application is submitted by the person via the Academy’s online services. The same person cannot submit the application and issue the commitment of the site of research.
The responsible person can authorise one or several persons to read or edit an incomplete application in the online services. You can authorise a person on the tab ‘Authorisation’ in the online services. Please note that the authorisation is valid only when the call is open.
Make sure to submit the application in good time before the deadline. The system will only accept applications that contain all obligatory information. You can edit and supplement the application until 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 review and decision-making process. 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.
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 the Academy 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
After the funding decisions have been made, the application and its appendices become public documents. This publicity is based on the Finnish Act on the Openness of Government Activities. The Academy 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 application consists of forms completed in the online services and sub-applications submitted as appendices.
As an applicant, you have the right to submit your application in Finnish or Swedish, but we ask you to submit it in English.
The online application consists of the following parts
- Personal data on the applicant/the organisation’s responsible person
Site of research
- Site of research
- Site of research, if other
- Website of site of research
Funding for the project
- The project’s funding follows the full cost model. The Academy’s funding contribution to the research costs comes to no more than 70%.
- Enter the funding period (1 February 2020–31 December 2021), effective working hours, indirect employee costs, overheads percentage and VAT.
- 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 the Academy has been submitted.
- Justify the funding to be applied for. The cost estimate must be realistic.
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 of the site of research. The same person cannot submit the application and issue the commitment of the site of research.
Salary of principal investigator
- Justifications, if salary costs for the PI of the sub-application are included in the funding plan
- The sub-application PI’s salary costs may, under certain limitations, be incorporated into the total project costs: for project management and/or research. In this call, exceptionally, the PI may be granted salary funding for a maximum period of twelve months.
- If the sub-application PI does not have a permanent employment relationship, include a salary plan for the PI for the funding period.
- Maximum length one page
- Justify why the Academy-funded projects have been selected.
- Academy decision numbers and PIs for the sub-applications
Public project description
- Maximum length 1,000 characters
- Popular, concise and reader-friendly description of the sub-applications in English and Finnish/Swedish
- The project description helps us to disseminate information on the research project.
- Applicants can authorise another person to supplement or view the application.
- Start by entering the person’s name in the field.
- The person must have an account in the Academy’s online services (SARA).
- You cannot authorise more than one person at a time to edit a field, 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.
- The sub-applications are appended as separate PDF files.
- The appendices must be drafted in accordance with our guidelines (two pages per sub-application). Make sure not to exceed the maximum length.
- Read the guidelines on the structure of the sub-application at the end of this call text.
- 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 deadline. Resaving will replace the earlier version.
- If you want to supplement the application after the deadline, please get in touch with the call’s contact person.
How the application is reviewed
The special funding for research into the COVID-19 epidemic will be allocated to ongoing projects (ongoing on the closing date), and therefore no new scientific peer review will be organised. Where possible, the Academy will seek to use external experts in assessing the relevance of the applications submitted.
The relevance will be assessed based on the following factors:
- The sub-application fulfils the objectives set for the funding.
- The sub-application is topical and feasible.
- The sub-application has potential for significant influence from the perspective of combatting the COVID 19 epidemic or mitigating its consequences.
- The sub-application is implemented following good scientific practice. The research must be ethical, follow the principles of sustainable development and make its results, material and data openly accessible.
The following scale is used for assessing impact and utilisation:
- A = fully agree
- B = partially agree
- C = partially disagree
- D = disagree
The General Subcommittee appointed by the Board of the Academy of Finland will make the funding decisions in May–June 2020.
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. If necessary, update the popular project description before you accept the funding. 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.
Structure of sub-application
Guidelines on structure of sub-application
The maximum length of a sub-application is two pages. The font is Times New Roman (font size 12 pt, line spacing 1.15 and margins 20 mm). The sub-application must be drafted according to the structure below and the formatting settings above. The applicant (the responsible person designated by the site of research) is responsible for ensuring that the instructions issued have been complied with. The applicant appends the sub-applications to the application as separate PDF files.
- Title of previously funded project
- Academy of Finland decision number
- Principal investigator of previously funded project
- Popular description of objectives and implementation of sub-application:
- how the planned sub-application is based on the research of the project currently funded by the Academy
- what the research is about, or how the research is being utilised and why
- where the research is carried out
- the significance and objectives of the sub-application with regard to the COVID-19 epidemic and its prevention
- how the research or its outputs could be utilised as part of the prevention and mitigation of the coronavirus epidemic and its consequences.
- total costs of the sub-application (Academy contribution up to 200,000 euros per sub-application and no more than 70% of the total costs)
- cost estimate incl. possible salary costs of PI
- justification for costs
Frequently asked questions
Is the funding call meant for research in biosciences and medical sciences only?
No, it is not. In the application’s sub-application, you can submit a project that is directly related to or can be directed towards the COVID-19 epidemic and the mitigation and/or prevention of its effects. Examples of the fields for an eligible work plan include virology, epidemiology, diagnostics, data analysis, sociology, economics and education.
Does the Academy grant funding to the organisation or to the sub-applications?
The application will be submitted by the organisation. The funding is granted to the applicant (i.e. the organisation). The subprojects that will be granted funding are included in the grounds for the funding decision.
Must the subprojects in the organisation’s application have synergy or some other connection?
No, that is not a requirement. The subprojects in the organisation’s application do not need to be connected or to form a body/bodies.
Must there be a connection between the sub-applications of Academy-funded consortium subprojects?
No, that is not a requirement in this call. The sub-applications of Academy-funded consortium subprojects do not need to be connected. Furthermore, the sub-application does not need to describe the consortium or the connections to other subprojects. A consortium application cannot be submitted in the COVID-19 call.
What does a retroactive start for the funding mean?
The funding period starts retroactively, when work costs prior to the funding decision date are invoiced. In the COVID-19 special call, the project receiving a positive funding decision may invoice its organisation for work costs from 1 February 2020 onwards. The organisation will then compile these costs and invoice the Academy based in them. In this case, the funding period must start on 1 February 2020.
What if there is no need or way to invoice the costs retroactively?Can the funding period be extended accordingly instead?
No, it cannot. The funding period will start on 1 February 2020 at the earliest and end no later than 31 December 2021.
Can the funding be used for the salary of the PI?
Yes, it can. Because of the exceptional situation, this call will diverge from the Academy’s normal practices concerning the salary of the PI. With this funding, the PI may be granted salary funding for a maximum period of twelve months.
The salary funding period covered with the COVID-19 special funding is not counted in the overall salary funding period of a PI whose project has other Academy funding.
The COVID-19 funding period does not count as a salary funding period for other Academy funding. Instead, the original salary funding period may be put on hold for the duration of the COVID-19 funding and postponed to the time after the COVID-19 funding ends.
May the members of the Academy’s decision-making bodies be granted funding in this call?
The Academy board has decided in the criteria for research funding decisions that the Members of the Academy Board, research councils and the Strategic Research Council will not be granted Academy funding during their terms.
May I apply for COVID 19 special funding and apply the Academy for a change in the purpose of my research project?
How are the funded subprojects chosen?
The special funding for research into the COVID-19 epidemic will be allocated to ongoing projects (ongoing on the call’s closing date), and therefore no new scientific peer review will be organised. Where possible, the Academy will seek to use external experts in assessing the relevance of the applications submitted.
Who will make the funding decisions?
The General Subcommittee will make the funding decisions.