Evaluation finds strategic research funding has brought added value to research and society

28 Jan 2021

The Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland today published an evaluation report on the societal impact of the first completed SRC programmes, accompanied by the programmes’ self-evaluations. The results highlight how the SRC programmes and the projects carried out in them have created a new kind of science-based understanding of societal challenges and the opportunities to solve them.

The evaluation focused on four programmes active in 2016–2019, the themes of which were and remain societally topical:

  • Urbanising Society (URBAN)
  • Health, Welfare and Lifestyles (HEALTH)
  • Skilled Employees – Successful Labour Market (WORK)
  • Security in a Networked World (SECURITY).

According to the results of the evaluation, the SRC funding instrument has brought multidisciplinary added value both to the research field and to societal decision-making. At the same time, a more strategic and long-term approach has been created to cooperation between research and society’s actors.

The evaluation shows that both researchers and knowledge users think that the interaction requirements and resources of the SRC funding instrument effectively intensify cooperation and contribute constructively to the delivery of research results to inform policymaking.

The evaluation was carried out by the consultancy companies Gaia Consulting and Owal Group. The self-evaluation reports are based on discussions with programme directors and principal investigators documented and facilitated by staff at the Academy of Finland’s Division of Strategic Research.

Concrete solutions to social challenges

According to the evaluation, the strategic research programmes produced a number of concrete solutions to societal challenges. For example, researchers in the WORK programme developed an online training to strengthen the multicultural competence of health and social services professionals and increased our understanding of the transformation of work and the challenges related to this transformation.

Projects funded under the HEALTH programme created digital operating models to provide guidance to both individuals and groups. Examples of such models are the Voimaperheet intervention model developed by the APEX project; BitHabit, a type 2 diabetes intervention app developed by the StopDia project; and the Recover! app developed by the Promo@Work project.

The SECURITY programme increased public awareness of topics with direct links to strategic decision-making in the security field. The Winland project adopted a new approach to highlighting the interconnections between food, water and energy security and its relationship with other security fields. The GLASE project in turn made sure that increasing attention was paid to the mental health of asylum seekers.

Cities were a significant group of users of the results of the URBAN programme. The scenarios jointly compiled by the programme’s projects on urban development serve as tools for considering the various effects and actions of urban development. At the same time, strategic planning at the urban level has become a topic of wider debate and a higher priority.

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