Proposal for strategic research themes focuses on children and young people, security and trust

8 Jun 2021

The Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland proposes that the Finnish Government adopt two strategic research themes for programmes to be launched in 2022. The two themes are:

  • Children and young people – healthy, thriving and capable makers of the future
  • Security and trust in the age of algorithms.

The proposed cross-cutting priority is equality.

Strategic research is concerned with topical challenges in Finnish society. It contributes to reforming and developing Finnish society in the long term, and supports evidence-informed decision-making in line with society’s changing information needs.

Each strategic research programme focuses on a specific theme. In preparing the theme proposal to be submitted annually to the Finnish Government, the SRC identifies and anticipates societal challenges that are important for Finland's future and that require new research data produced across disciplinary boundaries.

Theme proposals seek solutions to inequality and structural discrimination

The first proposed theme focuses on children and young people as members of society and as makers of the future. Research under the theme shall seek solutions to ensure equal opportunities for all children and young people for a good life and for safe growth and development.

The second proposed theme addresses security and trust. Through multidisciplinary and interactive research, the theme seeks to build a wide-ranging knowledge base and expertise to better identify and combat security threats that undermine trust in this age of information technology and hybrid influencing.

Professor Kimmo Nuotio, SRC Chair, said: “Equality was a natural priority for these themes. We wanted to make sure that the priority is reflected in both theme descriptions. Our goal was to ensure that equality will be taken into account also in the funding applications.”

Strategic research homes in on major social challenges

The new theme proposals effectively complement the previous strategic research themes. Together, the SRC programmes contribute to evidence-based policy and provide a broad range of support for societal problem-solving.

Kimmo Nuotio stresses that strategic research has established its position in the research sector. SRC programmes have sparked new forms of collaboration between scientists, policymakers and other actors in society. The multidisciplinary and interactive research has generated new, more comprehensive research results and overall views on societal challenges and solutions.

Nuotio added: “Based on the evaluation of the first completed programmes, the instrument appears to have met the expectations. We’ll hear more when the evaluation of strategic research commissioned by the Government is completed. I see strategic research as one of the ways to conduct excellent research that in particular ensures the societal impact of research. Another special feature of strategic research is the transdisciplinary cooperation, which I believe is also important in order to achieve scientific impact.”

Theme preparation puts emphasis on interaction

The scientific community and knowledge users both play a key role in preparing new themes for strategic research. Feedback is very important throughout the process: Topical social themes are charted with an open online survey. The most promising theme suggestions are further developed in workshops together with stakeholders. Before the proposal is finalised and submitted to the Finnish Government, the draft themes prepared by the SRC are made available for consideration and comments at a public consultation. The theme preparation also employs foresighting.

Nuotio said: “Feedback is vital. It’s the only way for us to know that we’re heading in the right direction. The SRC listens intently to both the proposals and the feedback and draws conclusions based on them. Of course, the responsibility for the result lies solely with us.”

The Government will discuss the SRC’s theme proposals and then decide the final themes, after which the SRC will be responsible for launching research programmes and opening funding calls based on the themes. The calls are typically opened in late autumn.

Inquiries and more information

  • SRC theme proposal (PDF)
  • Professor Kimmo Nuotio, SRC Chair, tel. +358 294 122 013, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Pilvi Toppinen, Senior Science Adviser, Division of Strategic Research, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 064, firstname.lastname(at)

Academy of Finland Communications
Anna Oravakangas, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 039

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