Goals and methods are clear – work remains to be done

The government budget retains the university index, no cuts are forthcoming, and the Act on Research and Development Funding (the RDI special act) is implemented.

Details

English translation Marko Saajanaho

Details

The RDI funding plan determines the government programme’s points of emphasis not only for the next year, but partially for the entire duration of the government programme. This is evidenced by the 2024 budget, in which public RDI spending is increased by approximately 280 million euros in the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment’s administrative branches.

The most prominent targets are Business Finland’s RDI funding, the universities’ educational pilot of one thousand PhDs in the Academy of Finland’s flagship fields in particular, matching funds for EU projects, a quantum computer, and the development of university-level social and healthcare research. RDI funding is also channelled towards Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of the Environment, and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry sectors.

RDI spending increases can only happen with businesses investing double the amount the government does. In addition to extensive funding and RDI cooperation opportunities, significant RDI tax incentives are available to businesses.

Despite the various benefits, there are marked differences in RDI intensity between businesses and industries. While the RDI funding plan is used to boost the RDI level lagging behind, the entire research and innovation system requires changes. The world and the Finnish society need products and services developed with new thinking processes.

Development and implementation require more productive and inclusive, properly researched processes to prevent harmful side effects to the environment or people’s wellbeing.

Two concerns should be highlighted. Due to the fixed-term funding of study places, the number of undergraduate students at higher education institutions has increased by 25 percent. At the same time, students face increased financial struggle as costs increase and benefits are cut.

How could we academics help the students in their plight? With more personal guidance or including them in RDI and business cooperation, perhaps? The objectives are becoming clearer, but how is this done in the university field, and by whom?

Now, if ever, we need good will, innovation, and simplification of action in order to weather the incoming extra work. That should show through well-managed action and rewards.

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