pro aere, aqua, terra

The Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation’s annual report 2023

The Nessling Foundation supports research and provides opportunities for encounters and scientific knowledge for the use of society. You can find the highlights of 2023 on this page.

Highlights of the year


Our new grantees are researching

growing objectives in shrinking regions and grassroot utopias.


We enable active research

We supported our researchers during and after the application process and provided training.


We collaborate with others in funding projects for the good of the environment to advance the sustainability transformation

Outside the general grant call, we continued to provide support for co-funded projects that strengthen the foundation’s strategic goals.


We make encounters and co-operation possible

We want to enable encounters because we need a shared vision of implementing sustainability transformation.

Year of the numbers 

My first whole year in the Foundation is now behind me. It feels like a much longer time. I have got to know so many people and places that instead of months or days, I’d like to count the year in other numbers. 

For example, I now know of 393 ways to enable sustainability transformation that protects natural systems. That’s how many applications came in during the general funding call, and I had the honour of reading them all. I was hugely impressed by the quality, ambition and breadth of the applications.  

During the year, I was able to meet many dozens of our grantees. This has been important for me, since one of the reasons I applied for a job in the Nessling Foundation was because of the way the Foundation works with its grantees. We are not just a money dispenser but want to support researchers and projects to play an active role in society. Last year we expanded this by launching the Nessling Impact programme. The programme aims to move the work of foundation-funded researchers and projects into society to accelerate the sustainability transformation that protects natural systems. 

I was part of a group of three when the Nessling Foundation awarded the Sininen pallo Prize, a collaboration between three foundations. The young winners are a great example of ingenuity and drive. It has been great to get to know the world of foundations through different forms of collaborations. I believe that foundations have a critical and growing role to play in advancing the sustainability agenda. Thank you to our partners TAH Foundation, Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, Kone Foundation and many others! 

Another collaboration with foundations, Puistokatu 4, completed its pilot year busy with events and community spirit. Puistokatu 4 is also home to the Nessling Foundation’s office and as its residents, we are inspired daily by events and encounters with researchers and practitioners.   

The biggest number of the year are the countless encounters with people who, in their own way, are pursuing the same goal as the Nessling Foundation, which is to build an ecologically sustainable world. These encounters evoke hope, inspire and create new opportunities for collaboration. Thank you to the Nessling Foundation team, the Forum for Environmental Information, our Board of Directors and experts, our grant recipients, the community of Puistokatu 4 and the Nessling Foundation’s many stakeholders! 

Science and Executive Director Katja Bargum

We accelerate the sustainability transformation with grants

Our mission is to seek systemic solutions for an ecologically sustainable future. Through a general grant call in 2023, we funded projects that promote the sustainability transformation that protects natural systems. 

393 applications were submitted in the grant call. Top-quality, ecologically sustainable and future-promoting research is carried out in many different scientific fields in Finland. There were also many multidisciplinary research projects among the projects selected for funding.

We granted a total of EUR 2,611,638 to 28 projects. The funded projects included 14 doctoral thesis projects, 7 post doc projects and 7 research knowledge implementation projects. The funding recipients represent 10 different universities, research institutes or other organisations. 

Our new grantees focus on, for example, the following themes: 

What opportunities do citizens have to participate in the clean-up and restoration of contaminated land? How can young people who have been educated about climate change spread the knowledge to older generations? How could kindergartens be microbe-friendly? How should hydrogen gas be stored?

Funded projects

Totalling EUR 2,611,638

Funded projects by field

A total of 28 projects

Our grantees are researching… 

Shrinking regions, growing objectives - "The potential of architects and designers is being wasted" says Emel Tuupainen.

Spatial planning and land use are increasingly required to contribute to economic growth. In Emel Tuupainen’s dissertation, the declining provinces serve as an example of the key project points for sustainability transition planning.

Read more

Postdoctoral researcher Linda Karjalainen sheds light on sustainable ways to live in cities: “Citizens’ actions and visions bring hope”

Grassroots utopias of human-centered and sustainable cities are slowly but steadily becoming a reality. Urban researcher Linda Karjalainen focuses on making these visions visible and bringing researchers and citizens together to realize them.

Read more

New sustainable materials for green electricity production from photosynthetic bacteria

Significant steps towards achieving truly green electricity generation are taken, writes Dr. Laura Wey.

Read more

We enable active research

We supported our researchers during and after the application process and provided training

We organised personal sparring for researchers and projects before the general grant call. In addition, we provided personal feedback on the application for 89 applicants who didn't receive the grant. We encourage and train the grantees to adopt an active and impactful research culture, which includes societal debate and communication. In 2023, we guided our researchers in writing blog texts and organised training sessions: social media training, non-fiction writing training and a research interaction training together with the Kone Foundation. In addition, we organised a joint meeting for our new grant recipients to allow them to network.

Information for the use of society  

Research results on the researcher’s desk or in research publications do not move themselves into society as building blocks for a future. We use different methods to encourage our researchers to adopt an active research culture, in other words, a researcher career integrating communications and interaction as a vital part of the researcher’s work. We also ask the researchers to report their societal interaction in addition to their research publications. The reports show that the funded researchers have adopted an active role in society. In 2023, 50 of our grant recipients reported their research publications and other societal activity. The recipients reported a total of 117 research publications and 224 societal impact activities. The grant recipients reported, among other things, that they have written opinion pieces and critiques, appeared in the media, and been active on social media.

Scientific publications and other types of societal impact

Other types of societal impact

We collaborate with others in funding projects for the good of the environment to advance the sustainability transformation

Outside the general grant call, we supported or continued to provide support for co-funded projects that strengthen the foundation’s strategic goals.

Youth Climate Summit 18 November 2023

We make encounters and co-operation possible

We want to enable encounters because we need a shared vision of implementing sustainability transformation.

Puistokatu 4 continued as a Space for Science and Hope

Puistokatu 4 front. Picture by Joel Haapamäki.

Puistokatu 4, also known as the Space for Science and Hope, is a joint project of the Nessling Foundation and the TAH Foundation. Its goal is to break down environmental discourse silos and catalyse the rapid cultural change needed in an ecological crisis. 

The offices of the foundations that finance the space and the Forum for Environmental Information are located at Puistokatu 4. In addition, experts from different fields work there as Agent members who work to solve the ecological crisis. The Science Attic on the top floor of the building provides a workspace for two dozen researchers from different fields whose work is also related to the ecological crisis. Puistokatu houses a restaurant, and you can also book meeting and event spaces from the premises. During 2023, Puistokatu 4 hosted around 50 events with around 2000 visitors. With a variety of partners, a diverse range of participants from babies to the President and from young activists to CEOs of mouth companies were enabled.

The Forum for Environmental Information rings research into the decision-making process

Johanna Riitakorpi and Kaisa Välimäki, the Forum for Environmental Information. Photo: Joel Haapamäki.

The Forum for Environmental Information promotes the use of researched environmental information in societal decision-making. It was founded in 2010, and the Nessling Foundation finances it together with the Kone Foundation. In 2023, Executive Director Johanna Riitakorpi and Coordinator Kaisa Välimäki continued in office.

The Forum for Environmental Information organises various events and facilitates encounters between researchers and decision-makers in order to convey the latest scientific information in the environmental field for the needs of societal decision-making and administration. In 2023, the Forum for Environmental Information and its stakeholders organised a total of 5 open events, the largest of which was the Nature and Climate Debate for decision-makers in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. In June 2023, the Environmental Dialogues discussion event, organised in cooperation with the Nessling Foundation and the Kone Foundation, focused on the power and responsibility of influencers in building a more sustainable future.

In 2023, an evaluation of the Forum for Environmental Information's impact was also completed, showing that the Forum for Environmental Information was effective in bringing together people at the interface of science and policy-making and in highlighting environmental issues in a new light.

We awarded the promoters of sustainable development in food packaging

Voittajat seisovat ulkona talvitakeissa talon sisäpihalla holvikaaren alla.
Iida Miettinen, Karri Lehtonen and Eero Heikkinen.

The 2023 Sininen pallo was awarded to the three founders of Kamupak: Iida MiettinenKarri Lehtonen and Eero Heikkinen. The solution developed by Kamupak’s founders reduces the need for environmentally damaging disposable takeaway food packaging and allows consumers to choose a more sustainable packaging for their takeaway. Kamupak’s solution is to provide restaurants with reusable packaging that stays in circulation through a digital deposit.

The prize is worth EUR 100,000, and this was the second time that it was awarded. The prize is awarded by the TAH Foundation, the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation and Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland.

We connected doctors and companies

We participated in the Post Docs in Companies cooperation programme. The programme aims to promote the employment of doctors in companies and to improve the ability of Finnish business to reform itself in a long-term and ambitious manner. The foundations participating in the programme commit to funding doctors’ research work for a year, after which the doctors will start working with a business partner to apply their research results. In 2023, we funded the employment of two doctors in the programme.