The CoEs’ impact stories show that researchers participate in societal dialogue and have impact in a number of different ways. In addition to academic recognition, the CoEs identified one indicator of impact to be societal recognition awarded to researchers.
The CoEs’ assessment also stated that research results have been used to boldly influence decision-making even in controversial societal contexts. In these cases, the challenge has at times been the unexpectedly intense polarisation of societal discussion.
“Questioning scientific knowledge has become more common in Finland. Having researchers actively participate in civic debate has led to tense and unpleasant situations at times. People have smeared researchers on different platforms and accused them of rejecting scientific objectivity. People have called them names like ‘agenda researcher’ and equated them to various industry lobbyists. Individual researchers have also had people call them pseudoscientists, especially on social media, after participating as experts in public events where their research topic was being discussed.”
On the other hand, the unexpected effects of the impact of research have created positive results as well. For example, research applications using unpredicted findings have been commercialised as new business and products.
The CoEs estimated that one of the most essential aspects enabling chance breakthroughs is close cooperation and a shared language in an inclusive operating environment:
“A successful multidisciplinary approach is a process of creating something new that does not clearly belong to a specific field.”