Strategic Research Council grants significant funding to support research into security and children and young people

13 Sep 2022

The Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland has granted a total of 28 million euros in funding to nine consortia in two new research programmes. The selected consortia focus on long-term research aimed at identifying solutions to major societal challenges.

Four consortia were granted funding under the SRC programme Security and trust in the age of algorithms (SHIELD) and five under the SRC programme Children and young people – healthy, thriving and capable makers of the future (YOUNG). Both programmes will run for six years, ending in 2028. Each consortium will receive an average of 3.1 million euros during the first three-year period.

The funded consortia were selected in a two-stage call from among those invited to the second stage. The SRC’s overall consideration was based on the panel review reports and the programme’s objectives. Decision criteria included the scientific quality, social significance and impact of the research.

According to Anu Kaukovirta, SRC Chair, the consortia selected to the programmes are of a very high quality: “Both programmes address highly topical themes, and I look forward to all the new initiatives and perspectives the projects will offer already during the start-up phase.”

Gaining knowledge to identify and combat security threats

The SHIELD programme focuses on researching security and trust in the age of information technology and hybrid influencing. The objective of the programme is to identify and tackle different types of security threats and to strengthen crisis management and resilience.

The selected consortia represent a total of eleven different disciplines, and the projects involve twelve organisations such as universities, municipal actors and companies.

Kaukovirta added: “The four projects selected to the SHIELD programme examine the theme of security and trust in society from a multidimensional perspective. The projects will develop both systemic understanding and concrete operating models for the use of societal actors, such as cities.”

The multidisciplinary REPAIR consortium, for example, will provide research-based practical models and starting points for the construction and renewal of algorithmic systems. The consortium will support the development of systems in a way that promotes the core values of the Nordic welfare state: equality, openness, autonomy and inclusion.

Research to promote the wellbeing of children and young people

Research under the YOUNG programme will seek solutions to ensure equal opportunities for all children and young people for a good life and for safe growth and development.

The selected consortia represent fourteen disciplines, and the projects involve twelve organisations, for example universities and government research institutes.

Kaukovirta said: “All of the projects are ambitious and seek solutions to support young people in different situations and to strengthen their future prospects in the context of change and, in particular, in crisis situations.”

Among the funded projects is the IMAGINE consortium, which aims to improve access to psychosocial interventions in educational, primary healthcare and correctional settings. In addition, the project will focus on how to reach young people and encourage them to stay in care. Investing in the mental wellbeing of young people is now critically important as specialised mental health services for this age group are under severe stress and as mental ill-being has further increased during the pandemic. IMAGINE will complement the objectives set out in Finland’s National Mental Health Strategy and Suicide Prevention Agenda 2020-2030. The consortium will actively involve young people and professionals at all stages.

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