Theme proposal for strategic research submitted to Finnish Government

11 Jun 2024

The Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Research Council of Finland proposes that the Finnish Government adopt two themes for the six-year strategic research programmes to be launched in 2025 (PDF). The proposed themes are:

  • Economy and welfare in an era of strategic competition
  • Skills, labour supply and migration in future Finland.

The proposed cross-cutting priority is artificial intelligence.

Focus on the economy and the future of work

The first proposed theme looks at the economy as a foundation for welfare. In an era of strategic competition, the emphasis increasingly falls on economic and social stability as well as approaches that support resilience. The importance of intellectual capital is growing and global competition for natural resources is intensifying. Multidisciplinary research knowledge and novel solutions are needed to reform the economy and support productivity. How do we boost competitiveness, attract investment and build a sustainable economy that can generate added value? How do we simultaneously improve the economy in the long term and guarantee welfare services for future generations?

The second theme focuses on skills and labour supply in future Finland. A favourable development in Finland requires versatile, adaptable skills and enough employees. Many sectors in the Finnish economy face labour and skills shortages, which are estimated to be exacerbated by changes in the age structure of the population. Education, labour and immigration policies play a key role in ensuring the supply of skills and labour. The need for reform affects the labour market, the education system as well as business and industry. The SRC recognises that multidisciplinary and long-term research is essential to address the complex issues and challenges related to skills, labour supply and migration.

AI will define and reform future society and ways of working

The SRC is proposing artificial intelligence (AI) as a cross-cutting priority for the two programmes launching in 2025. Advances in computing technology and AI-based solutions will offer exciting opportunities both for the economy and for future jobs. At the same time, the use of algorithmic decision-making systems also involves considerable risks and complex issues of fairness. With the cross-cutting priority, the SRC is keen to underline the importance of exploring relevant opportunities, challenges and open questions related to AI-based solutions in the research on each of the two themes.

Strategic research focuses on complex societal challenges

Strategic research 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. Societal challenges are often complex and require collaboration. A key feature of strategic research is close interaction between researchers, policymakers and other societal actors. The Strategic Research Council (SRC) is an independent body established within the Research Council of Finland.

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 societal challenges that are important for Finland's future and that require new research data produced across disciplinary boundaries.

Theme preparation highlights importance of interaction

The scientific community and knowledge users play a key role in developing new themes for strategic research. In this round, the preparation of the themes started in October 2023 with an open online survey on current societal challenges. The draft themes were further elaborated with stakeholders in February 2024. Stakeholder feedback also supported the SRC’s theme selection and further preparation. Before the proposal was finalised and submitted to the Government, the draft themes and priorities were discussed at a public consultation on 20 May. The theme preparation also involved foresighting.

The Government will discuss the SRC’s theme proposal and decide the final theme, after which the SRC will be responsible for launching the research programmes and opening the funding calls. The calls are typically opened in late autumn. It is then up to researchers to assess together with knowledge users how best to respond to the challenge presented by the theme by means of multidisciplinary research, and to create new solutions tailored to Finnish society.

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