Academy and Tekes launch new funding programme


Aiming to attract top foreign researchers to Finland

The Academy of Finland and the National Technology Agency Tekes are launching a new funding programme with a view to attracting top foreign researchers to Finland. The idea is to recruit high-level international researchers for a fixed period who are committed to closely integrating themselves into the Finnish research community.

The funding programme for visiting science and technology top researchers will allow Finnish universities and research institutes to hire top foreign names or Finnish scientists who have spent extended periods abroad. It provides an effective tool for raising the level of scientific and technological know-how in Finland and for adding a stronger international element to the country's research system.

The funding programme is based on a government decision concerning the structural development of the public research system. The decision requires that public funding bodies work to develop new strategies and funding instruments with a view to attracting top foreign experts to Finland.

Planning for the new programme has been a joint effort between the Academy of Finland and Tekes, reflecting the underlying ambition to create closer links between science and technology. The programme will have a joint timetable and will be jointly implemented. For the Academy's part the main emphasis will be on basic research, science, and researcher training; and for Tekes' part on technological development and cooperation with business and industry. Also Tekes will require that researchers funded through the programme take part in researcher training in the capacity of supervising doctoral theses.

"Furthermore, we expect that the research theme is relevant to the development of Finnish society and the Finnish national economy. In practice this means that the subject should fall within the priority areas identified by Tekes in its strategy," says Tekes Director General Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara.

Building longer term research cooperation

One of the aims of the funding programme for visiting science and technology researchers is to strengthen areas of science and technology that are of key national importance.

"Indeed, one of the new aspects of this funding instrument is that it looks to universities and research institutes themselves to propose strategic areas where they have strong expertise and where it would be most useful to hire top international names. This is one of the programme's science policy objectives," says Academy President Raimo Väyrynen.

The programme call will be opened in December 2005. A panel of international experts will be appointed to evaluate the scientific qualifications of the top foreign researchers proposed by universities and research institutes.

The funding programme is specifically aimed at building up longer term international research cooperation: funding will be made available to hire researchers who will be coming to here to work as part of the Finnish research community. In other words, monies will not be made available for hiring visiting lecturers, for instance. The idea is to make sure that top international researchers can be paid competitive salaries and that they have adequate research funding.

'We have in Finland a highly efficient innovation system in place and we invest heavily in research and product development. We also have internationally very high quality research environments. Therefore we believe that the Finnish research community can be an attractive option to top foreign researchers," Väyrynen and Saarnivaara point out.

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