Academy of Finland Newsletter, September 2011
The Academy of Finland newsletter keeps you updated on leading-edge scientific research funded in Finland and on other news from the Finnish world of science and research. If you want us to send this to someone else in your organisation or if you do not want to receive these newsletters in the future, please let us know at email@example.com.
Scroll down for more on these stories
Finland prepares a development plan for education and research
Finland plans to set a target of increasing the education level of Finnish people so that Finland would be the best-educated nation in the world by 2020. This appears in a draft, drawn up by the Ministry for Education, Science and Culture, for a development plan for education and research for 2011–2016. The plan also includes a science strategy with a view to strengthening the research system and clarifying the division of labour between different actors. The Academy of Finland has proposed the drafting of a national science strategy for a couple of years.
According to the Ministry’s draft, the science strategy would take into account both the framework conditions of basic research and the need to accelerate the creation of research-based innovations. Efforts will be made to raise researchers’ competence level and to further promote researcher training and careers in research.
The draft, presently circulated for comments, reveals that the availability of a well-educated labour force will be improved by enhancing the education system and by setting new quantitative targets for education. This would involve cutbacks in the supply of education in the fields of culture, natural sciences, natural resources, the environment, tourism, restaurant and the economy, but increases in the fields of social welfare, healthcare and sports as well as the humanities and education.
Research and Innovation Council appointed
A new Research and Innovation Council of Finland, chaired by the Prime Minister, has been appointed. Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen was appointed chair of the Council, and Minister of Education and Science Jukka Gustafsson and Minister of Economic Affairs Jyri Häkämies its deputy chairs. The Council’s ministerial members are Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen, Minister of Culture and Sport Paavo Arhinmäki, Minister of Health and Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson, Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö, Minister of the Interior Päivi Räsänen, Minister of Public Administration and Local Government Henna Virkkunen and Minister of Defence Stefan Wallin.
The other members appointed to the Council are Rector Kaija Holli (University of Tampere), CEO Risto Lammintausta (Hormos Medical Ltd.), Director General Erkki Leppävuori (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland), President and CEO Pekka Lundmark (Konecranes Oyj), President Markku Mattila (Academy of Finland), Professor Arto Mustajoki (University of Helsinki), Rector Anneli Pirttilä (Saimaa University of Applied Sciences), Director General Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes), Education Policy Adviser Saana Siekkinen (Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK ) and Professor Päivi Törmä (Aalto University).
The Research and Innovation Council advises the Government and ministries in matters related to the direction, follow-up, evaluation and coordination of science, technology and innovation policy.
Cuts expected in Academy of Finland’s appropriations
The 2012 budget proposal involves cuts in research appropriations. A 10 per cent cut is proposed in the funding authority of the Academy of Finland for 2012. If approved by Parliament, the proposal will discontinue the favourable development of the Academy’s research funding. In 2011, the Academy provides some EUR 340 million in funding to cutting-edge scientific research. The Academy of Finland operates in the administrative sector of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
In order to fuel growth, the Ministry proposes an additional funding of EUR 8.5 million for research infrastructures. In order to increase the availability of digital information resources and promote their further use, the Ministry recommends that a National Digital Library be established. It also proposes raising the quality of research and supporting the creation, profiling and better international appeal of creative research environments. The Ministry further proposes the promotion of the application of research knowledge and the science-policy knowledge base for the benefit of the economy and employment and other progress in society, as well as the development of research careers in close cooperation with universities and the Academy of Finland.
Finnish plant science aims at the international forefront
Plant science research in Finland is of a high quality and some of the research units are at the international forefront in their field. The high standard of research and the expertise of the units provide a sound basis for researcher training and create potential for further success in the future. These are among the key findings of an evaluation of Finnish plant science. The evaluation was carried out by an international panel and commissioned by the Academy of Finland.
The evaluation panel reviewed plant science research at nine Finnish university units and three research institute units. In its assessment, the panel focused on the quality of research, funding, research facilities and researcher training. The evaluation covered the years 2005‒2009.While the evaluation noted the overall high standard of Finnish plant science, it also revealed distinct differences in both quality and results between the evaluated units. Therefore, the evaluation panel recommends that smaller research units actively seek collaboration with other research teams with a view to establishing larger units around common research topics.
The evaluation report is part of the Academy of Finland publication series and available online at www.aka.fi/publications > Publication series.
Academy to strengthen collaboration with the Republic of Korea
The Academy of Finland is strengthening research collaboration with the Republic of Korea. The memorandum of understanding signed in June by the Academy and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) is set to renew research funding cooperation between the two countries. The primary research fields for this cooperation, as defined by the Academy, are mechanical engineering (incl. shipbuilding technology), nanoscience, ICT technology and nuclear technology. The Academy’s aim is to facilitate the launch of co-funded Finnish-Korean research projects in these fields.
The NRF is a funding agency for basic research and its operations cover all scientific disciplines. It serves as an expert in planning Korean research and development policy and defines strategically important areas to ensure future growth. The NRF was established in 2009 and its budget for 2011 is some EUR 2 billion.
FinNode network expands to India
The FinNode network has expanded to India. FinNode is a global network of Finnish innovation organisations and its overall aim is to promote innovation activities on international forums. FinNode India was launched in New Delhi at the beginning of 2011, and the official inauguration ceremony was held in late September. FinNode India is headed by Riku Mäkelä.
FinNode India actively seeks to create new openings for Finnish business and research organisations and serves as a showcase for the Finnish innovation system in India. The key focus of its ongoing projects is on vocational training needs, mobile services for rural areas, diagnostics and future urban planning in India. Indian research universities and research institutes have a keen interest in research collaborations with Finland.
The key areas of research and innovation cooperation between Finland and India are health and wellbeing, the environment and energy (i.e. clean technology) as well as education and learning. FinNode India seeks to promote the creation of Finnish-Indian joint projects in these fields.
Besides India, the FinNode network also operates in China, Japan, Russia and the US. The FinNode network is hosted by Finpro, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Academy of Finland, the Confederation of Finnish Industries and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
Finland and Sweden to enhance cooperation in clinical medicine
The Academy of Finland and the Swedish Research Council have opened a joint call for investigator-driven clinical trials. The aim is to promote collaborative research projects between Finnish and Swedish clinical researchers and to strengthen medical research in both countries. A total of EUR 3 million has been reserved in funding for projects. The three-year funding will start in September 2012.
Academy of Finland’s new address
The Academy of Finland moved at the beginning of September 2011. As of 1 September, our address is Hakaniemenranta 6, POB 131, FI-00531 Helsinki. Our phone numbers have not changed.
Riitta Mustonen to chair SFIC
Dr Riitta Mustonen, Vice President for Research of the Academy of Finland, has been appointed chair of the Strategic Forum for International Cooperation (SFIC) for its next two-year period. SFIC is composed of high-level representatives of EU Member States and operates under the European Research Area Committee (ERAC) with the aim to promote the EU’s research collaboration with non-European countries.
Finland receives new Jean Monnet Centre
The University of Tampere School of Management has received a Jean Monnet Centre. The Centre, operating with funding from the European Commission, seeks to create a new public-private partnership linking academic and other public and private actors with an interest in European politics and European-Russian relations. In line with the strategy of its predecessor operating since 2000, the Centre also promotes teaching, training and research activities in these fields and integrates these with wider European and Russian studies expertise. Jean Monnet Professor Pami Aalto continues as Director of the Centre.
Harri Skog to continue as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Harri Skog, LLM, has been appointed to continue as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture for 2011–2016.
Sakari Karjalainen, MD, Director General of the Department for Education and Science Policy, will leave the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture after his appointment as Secretary General of the Cancer Society of Finland. During 1995–2002, Dr Karjalainen served as Director of the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Health.
Academy Professor Kari Alitalo’s research team receives the Medix Prize
The research team of Academy Professor Kari Alitalo has been awarded the Medix Prize, worth EUR 20,000. The Medix Prize is awarded annually to the best Finnish scientific article published in the field of biomedicine and clinical research. The 2011 prize was awarded for an article on a new treatment for cancerous tumours, published in the medical journal Cancer Cell.
The prize is donated by the Finnish biomedical company Medix Biochemica, owned by the Minerva Foundation, Folkhälsan Research Foundation and the association Liv och Hälsa r.f. The Medix Prize was now awarded for the 24th time.
Academy of Finland at a glance
The Academy’s objective is to promote scientific research of a high standard through long-term quality-based research funding, research and science-policy expertise, and efforts to strengthen the position of science and scientific research. In 2011, the Academy makes decisions on research funding worth EUR 340 million. For more information, go to www.aka.fi/eng or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.