Research collaboration can even offer solutions to current world crises
All foundations have a charter which lays down their goal, objective or mission as defined by the people who set up the foundation. The Finnish Research Impact Foundation is no exception: its declared aim is to strengthen public-private partnerships and in this way to build a stronger platform for the development of Finnish know-how and renewal in the long term. This is an important goal in its own right, but this importance is further emphasized when we ask “why”.
Public-private partnerships serve not only to drive the growth of the Finnish economy – by building a stronger platform for know-how and renewal – but they can also bring practical solutions to current world problems, such as the climate crisis. Research produces knowledge about the world that industries can use to develop new innovations and solutions. This creates a win-win cycle that generates new resources for doing better research and for building a healthier environment and society. This is the answer to the question of why.
But this cycle cannot be kept going full circle without cooperation. In the worst case it can even turn in on itself: less research means less inventions and innovations and less access to resources. In early 2021 the Finnish Research Impact Foundation published the results of its survey and sparked serious debate about the state of industry-academia cooperation in Finland and the reasons why it has been slowing. Later in the year the Parliamentary RDI Working Group submitted its proposal for a legislative act that would secure increased funding for research and development. This is a welcome mechanism that will help to ensure greater predictability in funding levels and to strengthen the commitment of companies to step up their own investment in innovation.
The money invested in research and development will perhaps eventually come to boost industry-academia cooperation as well, but that will also require new funding models and new incentives. Someone has to actively turn the wheel and create fertile soil for cooperation. In line with its 2021 strategy, the Finnish Research Impact Foundation is committed to work towards these ends by piloting new funding models intended to promote cooperation.
In 2021 FRIF granted funding to 11 new joint research projects between academic and industry partners. The themes of these projects range from fine particle measurement technologies to dairy production emissions and potential uses of AI in pharmaceutical drug development. The research organizations and companies involved represent the absolute highest standards of Finnish and international excellence in their respective technology branches.
Projects aimed in one way or another at improving the state of the environment through science and innovation have a strong representation among the work we have decided to support. This is a positive signal, indicating that there are multiple ways in which to conduct research and business committed to environmental management and improvement and to do this in collaborative settings. A great example is the energy efficiency project between Tampere University and Danfoss: the partners are working to explore and develop methods for controlling VSDs that are used to regulate the power supply to industry motors. More sophisticated control mechanisms promise to achieve significant energy savings and to reduce emissions, producing both short-term effects and longer-term impact.
I hope you enjoy our annual report and take the time to read its excellent articles about the projects we are funding!