Concern about the continuity of impact
In the context of impact, the CoEs often mentioned researcher cooperation, multidisciplinary cooperation projects in national and international forums, and the networking of Finnish science. In addition, the CoEs brought up the impact of the Centres of Excellence in terms of investing in research infrastructure development projects.
For academic impact, the CoEs mentioned refining education with new research data. In this context, the development of new educational content and the education of critical mass were determined as a significant impact.
Generally, the CoEs’ impact assessments emphasised change and need for new research openings to match changing operating environments and the world.
The CoEs estimated that impact would allow them to bring visibility to the significance of their research, which the CoEs said would have an effect on applying for and receiving funding.
The challenges of impact were combined with concerns about the continuity of research funding:
“There is a risk that the combination of basic research and applied research that has been launched with new efforts will not survive the generation change without earmarked support from the university or the Academy. From a funding perspective, the importance of long-term, high-quality basic research still does not seem sufficiently appreciated in Finland, and we have found that our most promising young researchers have drawn their own conclusions from this and are either moving to high-level scientific countries offering steady research funding or switching over to other sectors.”