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Academy of Finland grants €20m for new research projects on crisis preparedness and security of supply

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The Academy of Finland today granted a total of 20 million euros in funding for research projects studying crisis preparedness and security of supply. The funding is part of an additional budget authority allocated to the Academy in the Finnish Government’s fourth supplementary budget of 2020. A total of 65 applications (151 subprojects) were submitted by the set deadline. Of these, 16 (42 subprojects) were granted funding.

Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research, said: “We’ve seen this year how important high-quality research is in preparing for crises and supporting the development of crisis response. This is why this first special call for research into crisis preparedness and security of supply is so important.”

The aim of the call is to increase understanding of complex crises affecting society and how such crises can be anticipated and resolved. The funding promotes a wide range of research on themes that are central to crisis preparedness and security of supply and that have both scientific and societal impact.

Tua Huomo, the chair of the call’s subcommittee, said: “The funded projects effectively represent both research related to system-level activities and the perspective of ordinary citizens. The projects implement interdisciplinary approaches in a particularly innovative way.”

Huomo added: “As we all know, our society can be affected by a number of surprising crises. The high-level projects funded under this call convince us that, with the help of science, we can find ways to solve even difficult issues.”

Examples of funded projects

Ali Harlin (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd) and Nelli Hankonen (University of Helsinki) will explore technological, behavioural and societal solutions to tackling pandemics. For example, the project will aim to improve the efficacy of protective equipment through technological research, increase understanding of protective behaviours and explore interdisciplinary concepts for shields and relevant solutions for the security of supply of protective equipment in the Finnish context.

Tarja Pitkänen (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare), Annamari Heikinheimo (University of Helsinki) and Sami Oikarinen (Tampere University) received funding for a joint project developing tools for environmental surveillance of infectious agents and antimicrobial resistance in sewerage networks. The team will explore wastewater samples, their environmental metagenome and the genomes of microbial strains to gather information about the wastewater-shed infectious agents. By doing so, the researchers aim to elaborate science-based recommendations and strategies for wastewater-based surveillance. This could ensure easier detection of any alarming trends in wastewater microbial hazards at local and national levels.

Crises are often accompanied by unexpected events, uncertain signals, malicious misinformation and conflicting reports that must be collectively interpreted and analysed to understand the complex nature and scope of the situation and its potential implications for society. Nitin Sawhney (Aalto University) and Jonas Sivelä (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) will aim to analyse and reconstruct crisis narratives by using qualitative research and social media analytics. The researchers aim to design a platform representing and visualising information to engage decision-makers, front-line responders, stakeholders and the general public in making sense of crises and perceptions of risk and trust.

In our complex knowledge society, the importance of information resilience has increased alongside traditional crisis preparedness activities. Annukka Jokipii (University of Vaasa), Anssi Keinänen (University of Eastern Finland), Aki-Mauri Huhtinen (National Defence University) and Valdemar Kallunki (Laurea University of Applied Sciences) were granted funding for a joint multidisciplinary project (IRWIN) developing a new kind of participatory and adaptive national preparedness system in which decision-makers, civil society and industry can create situational awareness and work together to advance crisis preparedness objectives.

Crisis situations can pose challenges to national food security and thereby threaten the maintenance of peaceful societies. In a joint research project, Marketta Rinne (Natural Resources Institute Finland) and Matti Kummu (Aalto University) will produce novel solutions and recommendations for short- and long-term decision-making on food security. Among other things, the project will develop solutions for disruptions in feed supply, examine the possibilities of vertical farming and aquaculture, and analyse the impacts of disruptions on food supply with a view to improving system resilience.

Inquiries and more information

  • List of funded projects
  • Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research, tel. +358 295 335 002, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
  • Vera Mikkilä, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 048, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
  • Mikko Ylikangas, Programme Manager, tel. +358 295 335 143, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi

Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131
firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi

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Suomen Akatemia
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The Academy of Finland funds high-quality scientific research, provides expertise in science and science policy, and strengthens the position of science and research in society. We work to contribute to the renewal, diversification and increasing internationalisation of Finnish research. We support and facilitate researcher training and research careers, internationalisation and the utilisation of research results. Our activities cover the full spectrum of scientific disciplines. In 2020, our funding for research amounts to 500 million euros. We are a government agency within the administrative branch of the Finnish Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

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