The post-R&D programme outlook

Trust in science is high right now, deservedly so. The happiest and sixth most innovative nation on the globe is funding R&D work in a record-setting manner even as the welfare society is tightening the belt.

english translation marko saajanaho

Investment and funding appropriation for 2024–2027 was decided upon last year, and the funding allocation for coming years is being decided now. The next round of funding has been prepared jointly by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, in a representative funding group for the Research and Innovation Council. Its proposal will be presented in the next draft budget. The parliamentary programme is expected to be fully realised, as businesses have exceeded their two-thirds funding portion of the R&D increase.

Hints of the upcoming proposal can be found in the recently published budgetary plan for 2025–2028, which is used to allocate a large part of the funding. The granting authority of Business Finland and Academy of Finland is increased, with the counterpart for EU research funding being grown further. New additions include investment in shared infrastructure; high performance computing especially suited for artificial intelligence; budget allocation towards joint R&D projects between higher education institutions, research centres, and businesses; and facilitating research centre staff renewal through a research fellow programme.

To ensure R&D investments turn into financially successful action to the same extent as in reference countries, immaterial investment must be grown in Finland. That means the measured utilisation and combining of copyright and industrial rights with funding opportunities in earlier stages of the process. Combining business expertise and R&D in an innovative way is nearly essential.

Future public funding is mainly competitive, predictive allocation. Due to the project-like approach, fixed term employment will increase. The funding does not include the targeted increase in the level of education, which would require hundreds of millions of euros of additional annual investment in the next ten years even if the profitability of teaching work was significantly improved. Student livelihood may develop into a bottleneck for lead times.

Plenty is riding on us now. Will our universities be able to combine the freedom of science, an encouraging learning environment and an attractive academic career with competitive wages? The direction R&D is heading has become clear, and that is why an increase in free funding for universities should be strongly considered to allow them to decide by themselves how to accomplish their co-operational goals.

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