The Board of Directors of the Finnish Research Impact Foundation (FRIF) decided in its December 15, 2020 meeting to choose a team from the University of Helsinki to study and assess the effectiveness of the funding model of the Foundation. The study will be targeted at the two-year Tandem Industry Academia collaboration projects funded by the Foundation in the spring of 2020, each of which involved an industrial partner.
The Tailored Metrics for Measuring Industry–Academia Funding Programme (TAILOMETRICS) project, funded in the call that closed in November, develops an evaluation system to measure and forecast the impact of FRIF joint research projects. Along with traditional indicators for assessing research impact, the project studies alternative impact indicators such as new themes for research, innovations, and social networks.
“The indicators for measuring impact are underdeveloped. For example, social contacts – both official and unofficial ones – are essential in terms of long-term impact yet are rarely studied systematically”, says Nina Kahma, a Docent from the Centre for Consumer Society Research of the University of Helsinki and the principal investigator in charge of the project.
“Research and industry have been rather far from each other, and researchers measure results by the number of peer-reviewed publications for example. If the impact of a study is reduced to these indicators, it does not bring up where and how scientific knowledge could be put to good use”, Kahma says.
The project aims not only at assessing the impact of funded research projects but also at describing and establishing what forms the impact of research may assume.
“It is important to increase interaction between the research world and business companies. Various exchanges between academia and applied work help scientific knowledge and researchers to gain access in companies for instance and will lead, in the long run, in more interesting research and better innovations. What research is and what it could generate outside a university is worth active consideration”, Kahma says.
Effectiveness under scrutiny
The objective of the Finnish Research Impact Foundation is to set out to assess the effectiveness of its own funding model without prejudice while wishing to promote knowledge about research impact and to create visibility for various models of cooperation. The call aimed at finding not only a group of impact researchers of a high academic standard but also a genuinely innovative way of intensive research.
“The mission of our foundation is to promote the impact of research. The shoemaker’s children must not go barefoot. That is, we wish to subject the effectiveness of the Foundation’s own work to critical assessment”, says Juha Teperi, a member of the Board of Directors and one of the initiators of the call.
“We are thrilled with the cooperation that is about to start and look forward to the results. While we will put them to good use in developing our own funding activities, we will also be only too happy to share their essence with other funders and research organizations for their benefit as well”, Teperi says.
The mission of the FRIF is to strengthen cooperation between world-class research and industrial stakeholders and thus to increase the impact of top research. In its first call for applications in the spring of 2020, the Foundation funded 11 joint academic and industrial research projects in which post doc researchers work in an academic organization for one year of funding and in a business company for the other year.