When applying for funding, carefully read the call text and the funding terms and conditions.
Who can apply?
The SRC’s calls are intended only for applications by research consortia. The consortium must be based on true collaboration where the work packages are distributed equally and appropriately between the parties.
Criteria for the consortia:
- They must contain at least three subprojects (often equivalent to research teams).
- At least two different organisations must be involved.
- The researchers must represent at least three different scientific disciplines.
The PI of the consortium and the work package leader must be a researcher with a doctoral degree and at least at the docent level. Leaders of WPs devoted to interaction activities must be qualified in their own field, but they are not required to have a doctoral degree.
A subproject PI must be competent to lead the subproject. As a rule, they also should hold a doctoral degree.
The same person may be the PI for one SRC consortium only.
The same person may act as a WP leader in no more than one application per programme.
Directors of the Academy of Finland’s Centres of Excellence may apply for SRC funding, but not as consortium PIs.
What is the role of the subproject in the SRC consortium model?
A subproject is often the same as a research team and it consists of the staff working at the same site of research. An organisation (e.g. a university) may include several sites of research (e.g. departments) and thus also several subprojects. From the Academy of Finland’s perspective, ‘subproject’ is an administrative term, since each subproject gets its own funding decision from the Academy. The question whether two research teams from different departments of a single university are regarded as separate subprojects depends on the financial administration, that is, on whether they have the same overhead coefficients.
In consortiums, on the other hand, the research and interaction activities are implemented in work packages that may include people from more than one subproject.
How is the letter of intent different from the full application?
The letter of intent submitted at the first stage of SRC calls is drafted by the consortium PI as an individual application, not as a consortium application. Consortium PIs must check the eligibility of each WP leader and that they are participating in only one application.
The research and interaction plan as well as the CVs and lists of publications of the consortium PI, deputy PI and work package leaders are appended to the letter of intent. More information on drafting the letter of intent is available in the call text.
The full application submitted at the second call stage is submitted as a consortium application. All subproject applications and appendices are combined under the consortium PI’s application. The consortium application can be submitted only after all subprojects have completed their applications (i.e. tagged them as ‘complete’). More information on drafting the full application is available in the call text.
How long are the funding periods?
The SRC grants funding for long-term research projects. In practice, this means that the funding is granted for 3–6 years, in accordance with the memorandum of justification for the Act on the Academy of Finland.
The funding period for the 2017 programme is four years (2017–2021). The funding period for the 2018 programmes is six years (3 + 3 years, 2018–2023), with a mid-term evaluation after the first period.
What costs are eligible?
The funding granted by the SRC covers all costs incurred, following the full cost model. Host organisations need not contribute to the costs with their own funding. Read more about the full cost model.
Unlike the Academy of Finland’s other funding for research projects, the SRC’s funding for consortium projects does allow applicants to apply for funding for PI and coordinator salaries in full for the entire duration of the project. Costs of interaction and impact activities are included in the funding.
Can business companies apply for SRC funding?
Yes, they can. Organisations other than research organisations must show that the recipient clearly separates between economic and other activities, and sets apart their costs, funding and income in order to prevent the funding from spilling over to economic activity. If the funding recipient cannot effectively prevent this from happening, the funding can only be granted in accordance with the EU’s state aid rules in the form of de minimis aid.
Before the start of funding, the consortium must agree on any IPRs that may arise. IPRs may be transferred to a third party at market price. Read more about IPR rights in the Academy of Finland’s funding terms and conditions.
How is the societal relevance reviewed?
The review questions are available in the call text.
Who makes the decisions, politicians or an academic review panel?
The answer depends on what decisions are referred to. The Finnish Government decided to establish the funding instrument for strategic research. The Government also decides the themes for strategic research, based on the SRC’s proposals. The Government’s decision-making power ends there. The SRC makes the decisions on the research programmes and the projects to be funded within these. The SRC’s funding decisions are based on reviews conducted by independent panels of experts. The panels consist of both Finnish and foreign experts selected based on their competence, not their background organisation. Ministry officials or politicians do not have any say or influence in the project selection process.
Can consortium PIs have ongoing Academy Project funding?
Yes. The only limitation at this point concerns directors of Centres of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland. CoE directors cannot simultaneously be the PI of an SRC consortium. As the SRC consortia are expansive, leading one requires a considerable amount of work. The SRC requires that consortium PIs are able to commit themselves with a sufficient level of input to heading the consortium.
Will the themes and programme topics change for the next call?
There is no definite answer to this question. The SRC discusses themes annually, and it is safe to assume that changes will occur.
How are international reviewers briefed?
Our officials will brief all reviewers about the objectives, programmes, review process and review questions concerning SRC funding. The independent reviewers will review and rate the applications. The SRC makes the funding decisions.
When will the panel review report be available?
Applicants will receive the review reports after the decisions have been made.
Should the deputy PI of the consortium be from the same organisation as the PI? Do the same competence criteria apply to deputy PIs? Is the deputy PI position only titular in cases where the PI isn’t prevented from carrying out their duty?
The deputy PI does not necessarily have to be from the same organisation as the PI, although such a scenario might be more practical and easier in terms of administrative and transitional processes. Deputy PIs must have a doctoral degree and hold the title of docent or have research experience at the docent level.
The call text says that the funding is primarily granted to teams of researchers at the postdoctoral level. So, the teams must not include any researchers without a doctoral degree? Or, should we interpret the text to mean that funding is not granted to dissertation work as such, but that the teams may include individual researchers without a doctoral degree?
One of the basic pillars of SRC funding is high-quality scientific research. Also, an SRC consortium is reviewed as a whole. That is why the SRC urges teams to hire researchers at the postdoctoral level.
The teams may hire staff according to the requirements of the research – and this includes researchers working on their dissertations. However, the SRC wants to emphasise that it would prefer to see teams consisting of postdoctoral researchers.
Can the proposed project include businesses, either as consortium parties or as providers of outsourced services?
Yes, the consortium project may include businesses. If the service or expertise is outsourced, the funding recipient should find out whether the outsourcing comes under the provisions of the Finnish Act on Public Contracts. In other words, the funding recipient must find out whether the contract must be put up for tender. (Read more in section 7 of the Academy of Finland’s funding terms and conditions.)
How are the matching funds for Horizon 2020 projects calculated?
A calculation example is available here.