The project launched by the Research Council of Finland in September 2021 to reform the funding opportunities available to early-career researchers has entered the implementation stage. The project examined how the funding schemes for researchers on fast career tracks could be developed as a whole.
The Research Council previously had three funding opportunities for early-career researchers: funding for research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher, funding for research posts as Academy Research Fellow and Academy Project funding targeted at early-career researchers. The funding opportunities have been introduced at different times and have been developed in a scheme-centric manner.
Based on the results of the project, the Research Council's overall system of funding opportunities for early-career researchers was considered complicated and unnecessarily burdensome in administrative terms. The main causes of that burden for research organisations, individual applicants and the Research Council's Administration Office were the requirement of multiple applications and funding decisions for the post of Academy Research Fellow, the difficulties in meeting and interpreting the mobility requirement, the lack of flexibility in funding uses and the low application success rate, a cause of much redundant work for all parties concerned. The goal of the reform was to develop a simpler and more streamlined funding scheme for early-career researchers.
On 4 February 2022, the Board of the Research Council of Finland decided to start preparing a reform to discontinue the funding schemes for Postdoctoral Researchers, Academy Research Fellows and early-career Academy Projects and introduce a new funding scheme for Academy Research Fellowships. The Board later also decided the main principles of the new funding scheme (16 March 2022) and the detailed objectives, principles and decision grounds (25 April 2022).