General grant call: instructions for making an application 

On this page, you will find instructions on how to fill in the application form for the autumn 2023 general grant call. Before submitting an application, carefully read the instructions below and the general grant call description and grant criteria. Every year, we have to reject applications that are inadequate or do not comply with our instructions or criteria.

Back to the General grant call home page

You can submit your application in Finnish or English. All attachments can also be in Finnish or English. The only exceptions are the Project name and Project objectives fields on the application form: these are to be given in both Finnish and English.

Submit your application using the E-Nessi system

The grant application is prepared using the E-Nessi system. You register as a system user on the first usage session. You can edit an unfinished application in the system.

The application consists of

  • the form completed in E-Nessi
  • a two-page project plan (attachment)
  • a one-page communications and interaction plan (attachment)
  • a commitment form signed by the project implementation site (attachment)
  • a CV and a list of publications (attachments)
  • for applications concerning doctoral theses, a supervisor’s statement is also required (see below under Supervisors for more information)
  • for applications concerning doctoral theses, attach a separate thesis plan to the application (see below under Plan for a doctoral thesis project for more information).

To make a new application, click on Make an application and select General Call.

The system will automatically assign a project number to the application and you will be able to edit the unfinished application via the main page. When making your application, save the draft one screen at a time as you proceed. Saving each screen is important to avoid losing information in case the session is interrupted due to a break in connections, for example.

You can copy text into the application form, for example, from a word processor, and cut and paste text from one field of the form to another. You can save the application on your own computer or print it with the function View Printable Form (pdf icon).

You can delete an unsubmitted application on the main page by clicking the trash can icon on the right-hand side of the application.

How to fill in the application form

Below, you find instructions for completing the application form fields in the order in which they appear in the form.


The applicant for the research grant is the recipient of the grant, i.e. the doctoral candidate or the post-doc researcher himself/herself. In implementation projects, the applicant shall be the principal investigator responsible for the project. This person must register as an E-Nessi user. Each applicant can only submit one application, and the same person can only receive funding once in each funding category. We will not provide funding for a new project if the applicant is currently running a project funded by the Nessling Foundation.

Project title

The project title should be formulated in an easily understandable manner and it should incorporate all possible subprojects. Enter the title in Finnish and in English. We request the title in two languages, as the Nessling Foundation will use these names in its communications if funding is granted for the project.

Intended purpose

In the drop-down menu, select the purpose for which you are applying for funding. The options are:

  • doctoral thesis project
  • post-doc project
  • the implementation of research knowledge.

Natural systems to which the project is connected

The Nessling Foundation offers funding for innovative projects and active researchers that enable or support sustainability transformations that protect natural systems. Natural systems are systems formed by other species and their habitats. These systems support all life, including human societies. Natural systems are threatened by the crossing of planetary boundaries. Read more about the planetary boundaries from Stockholm Resilience Center.

In this section of the application, select the natural system processes to which your project relates. You can select several options.

  • Climate change
  • Loss of biosphere integrity
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus flows to the biosphere and oceans
  • Freshwater consumption and the global hydrological cycle
  • Land system change
  • Atmospheric aerosol loading
  • Stratospheric ozone depletion
  • Chemical pollution and the release of novel entities
  • Ocean acidification

Socio-ecological systems to which the project is connected

During sustainability transformations, society as a whole and all of its socio-ecological systems undergo a transition. Natural systems, culture, the economy, energy solutions, food systems, cities and the well-being and functioning of citizens are undergoing a simultaneous transformation. Read more about socio-ecological systems in the Global Sustainable Development Report (2019) and on the Expert Panel for Sustainable Development website.

In this section of the application, select the socio-ecological system processes to which your project relates. You can select several options.

  • Human wellbeing and capabilities
  • Sustainable and just economies
  • Food systems and nutrition patterns
  • Energy decarbonisation and access
  • Urban and peri-urban development
  • Global environmental commons

Field of research

Choose the field of research applicable to your project from the drop-down menu. The options are:

  • Humanities
  • Business and Administration/Economics
  • Education
  • Natural sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Law
  • Technology
  • Health sciences
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Sustainability science
  • Other, please specify

Estimated duration of the project

The project must be started within one year of the grant being awarded, but not earlier than 1 January 2024 and not later than 1 December 2024.

Key partners of the project

In your application, mention the relevant partners of the project for which funding is sought. You can also mention relevant partners with whom you will work closely in the project, even if you are not applying for funding for them.


If you are applying for funding for a doctoral thesis, a supervisor’s statement is a mandatory part of the application. At least one supervisor must be specified for the doctoral thesis. Also enter the supervisor’s e-mail address in the application form. E-Nessi automatically sends a request to the supervisors to submit a statement. Make sure that the e-mail address of the supervisor submitting a statement is correct. The request for statement cannot be delivered if the e-mail address is incorrect. The statement must be submitted within two weeks after the closing of the application period.

In projects other than doctoral theses, no supervisor needs to be specified.

Project objectives

Describe the objectives of the project concisely and in general terms in Finnish and English. The maximum character count for this field is 1,600. We request the objectives in two languages, as the Nessling Foundation will use these descriptions in its communications if funding is granted for the project.

The project’s connection to promoting sustainability transformation and securing natural systems

Describe how the project contributes to a sustainability transformation that protects natural systems. You can concretise this by, for example, reflecting on the role of your project in changing socio-ecological systems or in securing planetary boundaries. In addition, please describe the societal significance and scalability of the results attained in the project. The maximum character count for this field is 6,000.

NB: The Nessling Foundation pays particular attention to this aspect when making funding decisions.

Project budget

Enter the total amount of funding applied for in the budget table of the application form. If the open text field below the table is too small to specify the content of the funding you are applying for, you can additionally add a more extensive budget breakdown as a separate attachment to the application. Name the attachment clearly.

Personal grant

The personal grant is intended for full-time work. During the grant period, the grantee can also work a maximum of 20% of their working time (for example, teaching or other research-supporting work).

A part-time personal grant can also be applied for, for example if the researcher has a part-time employment relationship with a research organization.

We only pay personal grants to the project’s main applicant, not to auxiliary staff. The grant is awarded to the applicant personally and it cannot be transferred to another person.

In implementation projects, you can apply for a personal grant for researchers working on the project. It is possible to apply for a salary grant for other participants involved in the implementation project, in which case reasonable salary costs, add-on costs included, are entered in the section “hiring of auxiliary staff”.

The amount of the personal grant in the 2023 call is EUR 28,000 for doctoral students, i.e. EUR 2,333.33 per month, and EUR 34,000 for post-doc researchers, i.e. EUR 2,833.33 per month.

The statutory insurance contributions of the grantee must be paid from the grant. The grant is tax-free up to EUR 25,547.52 (in 2023).

Auxiliary staff

In research projects, auxiliary staff mainly means research assistants, while in implementation projects, it refers to the workforce required for carrying out the project. When calculating the wage costs of auxiliary staff, statutory social security, pension and insurance premiums must be taken into account. The auxiliary workforce will not have an employment relationship with the Nessling Foundation, but the employer is the research organisation or grantee.

In research projects, we grant funding for hiring auxiliary staff only alongside a personal grant.

Other expenses

The purpose and object of funds sought for travel, consumables, analytical services, equipment as well as communications and interaction must always be precisely described. No daily allowances can be paid for travel grants. Funding for research expenses is only awarded alongside a personal grant. When drawing up a budget for a multi-year project, take into account the annual variations and moderation.

NB: Without a detailed breakdown of costs, other expenses will not be taken into account when awarding the grant.

When planning and budgeting travel expenses, applicants must observe the Nessling Foundation’s travel guidance.

The Nessling Foundation Travel Guidance:

  • Carefully consider which meetings or conferences are necessary to attend in person. Is it possible to attend a meeting virtually?
  • Avoid flying. Prefer travelling by land, especially on domestic trips. The Foundation’s travel allowance also allows you to travel abroad by land (or sea).
  • If flying is necessary, give preference to direct flights and airlines with new equipment. Takeoff and landing produce the most climate emissions in air travel. Also remember that the distance of air travel is directly proportional to the climate emissions: if you are travelling east, do not choose a connecting flight through the west.
  • When flying to a few-day meeting or conference in a long-haul destination, consider whether you could include working at the destination or otherwise extend your trip.
  • The Foundation’s travel allowance can and should be budgeted to compensating for the flight’s climate emissions.


We only pay overheads to research organizations. Check whether your research organisation requires an overhead share. It will not be granted retrospectively. Calculate the overhead share in the budget table of the application in its own section. The share of overhead costs may not exceed 15 per cent of the project costs other than the grant.

Example: If you are applying for a personal grant of 28,000 euros and 5,000 euros for other expenses (such as travel and supplies), the maximum overhead contribution may be 750 euros (0.15 x 5,000 euros).

Overheads cannot be paid to a company or association. In implementation projects, all the costs applied for must be itemised.

Other funding

In this section, the applicant must indicate all funding received from other sources for the same research topic, as well as any pending applications. The Nessling Foundation can also participate in co-funded projects, and grants can also be applied for part-time work.

Budgeting of research knowledge implementation projects

If you are applying for a grant for research knowledge implementation, prepare a budget using the guidelines provided above, as applicable.

Grants received in the past three years

Report the grants received here, each in its own row.

Pending grant applications (for the same purpose)

Report any pending grant applications intended for the same purpose here.


Submit all attachments in pdf format. The maximum size of one file is 12MB.

Commitment or the research/project implementation site

Each application must be accompanied by a signed commitment from the research/project implementation site. In addition to the applicant’s signature, the commitment must include:

  • in research projects, the signature of the site’s (e.g. a university unit’s) director
  • in implementation projects, the signature of the project site manager.

The commitment template in pdf format can be found in E-Nession the Attachments tab. The commitment can be signed electronically. If signed manually, scan the signed commitment and attach it to the application in electronic format.

NB: We receive a lot of questions about the commitment every year. The commitment is a mandatory part of the application for everyone. If it is missing, the application cannot be submitted.

Research/project plan

For research projects, i.e. doctoral thesis and post-doc projects, a research plan must be prepared and attached to the application. For implementation projects, a project plan is prepared. We use the information in the research/project plan as the main basis for funding decisions.

The plan shall indicate the background, aims, methods and execution of the research/project, as well as links to other projects.

If you are applying for funding for a project that is part of a larger entity and has several funders, please also provide a description of the total funding of the project in the plan. The total funding for the project can be specified in a separate attachment if it does not fit into the maximum length of two pages.

The maximum length of the plan is two pages (line spacing 1, font size at least 10). A list of references or a bibliography can be added to this, i.e. these are excluded from the two-page limit.

Project communications and interaction plan

The aim of the communications and interaction carried out during the project is to increase the impact of the project. The work of an active researcher promoting sustainability transformations that protect natural systems involves transmitting research knowledge to society. When assessing applications and making their decision, the evaluators pay particular attention to the quality and realism of the communications and interaction plan.

The Nessling Foundation not only encourages communications and interaction, but also provides projects with various kinds of support for these purposes. For example, we organise trainings and sparring for grantees on the subject.

By communications, we mean all the communication actions that are carried out during and after the project. Communications may include, for example, writing and publishing general-interest articles on different platforms, media cooperation and giving interviews, opinion articles, social media activity, speeches at public events and conferences outside one’s discipline, or policy briefs. The communications plan does not need to include scientific publications produced during the project. Instead, it is essential to describe the communications carried out on the basis of scientific publications and the results of the project.

By interaction, we primarily mean cooperation with the users of knowledge, i.e. the various stakeholders of the project. We recommend that you work closely with the knowledge users throughout the entire research process. There are many different ways of working with stakeholders. These include, for example, workshops, training, school visits, bilateral meetings with land owners, NGOs, companies, decision-makers or officials, or even campaigning at a street event. The most important thing is that you identify the key stakeholders in your own research and pay attention to how to work with them.

A good communications and interaction plan can be prepared in many ways. The most important thing is that your plan supports your work and meets the objectives of your research.

The format and layout of the communications and interaction plan can be freely determined. Submit the attachment in PDF format. The maximum length of the plan is 1 page. The plan must be easy to read, so don’t reduce the font size too much.

In previous years, we have read excellent communications and interaction plans provided in the form of free text, tables, thought maps or bulleted lists. Structured and relevant content is more important than the format.

You can use for example these guiding questions when writing the plan:

  • What kind of change do you want to achieve with your project and how do communications and interaction contribute to this change?
  • What is the societal relevance of your project and how do communications and interaction support it?
  • How does your project contribute to a sustainability transformation that protects natural systems and how do communications and interaction support this?
  • Who are the key stakeholders in the project and what means are used to interact with them?
  • What means are used to communicate the project during the project and after the results have been published?

For further help with identifying stakeholders and planning communications and interaction, see for example the Science communication recommendations by the Committee for Public Information, the Biodiversa Stakeholder Engagement Handbook and the book Tutkimuksesta toimintaan (Koskinen, Ruuska, Suni, 2018; in Finnish).

Communications and interaction in knowledge implementation projects

A communications and interaction plan must also be attached to applications concerning implementation projects. This is despite the fact that many implementation projects are completely communicative by default.

Implementation projects’ plans shall also comply with the above instructions, where applicable. The format and layout of the communications and interaction plan can be freely determined, the attachment is submitted as a pdf file and the maximum length of the plan is 1 page.

However, implementation projects feature more freedom than research projects to consider which parts of the project plans are better suited to be part of the actual project plan, and which parts are to be included in the communications and interaction plan. Try to avoid unnecessary repetition so that the evaluators get the best possible overview of your project.

For example, if you are applying for funding to create a concrete piece of work (a book, theatre performance, documentary film, multimedia performance, website or the like), the communications and interaction plan can describe how you will lead the audience to the work, i.e. it can serve as a marketing plan.

CV and list of publications

The project leader, as well as all participants for whom a grant or other type of funding is applied for, must submit a CV and list of publications. You can attach your CV and list of publications to your application as one or separate documents in Finnish or English.

Plan for a doctoral thesis project

If you are applying for funding for doctoral thesis work, attach a separate thesis plan to the application. The maximum length of the plan is two pages and it should describe the formal content and structure of the thesis, the progress of the doctoral studies, the publication plan, the work schedule and the realistic estimated completion time. We undertake to fund the doctoral thesis for a maximum of 4 years (a new project starting) or for a minimum of 2 years (the project is less than halfway through). We do not fund the finalising of doctoral theses. The thesis plan must correspond to the duration of the grant applied for.


If you wish, you can attach up to two publications on the topic produced by the research group to your application.

Commitment of foreign research partners

Any foreign partners mentioned in the application should provide a written commitment to accompany the application.

Submission, evaluation and funding decisions

Application submission

Submit your application and its attachments to the Nessling Foundation in E-Nessi using the Send function. The application must be received by 4:00 p.m. on the due date. The application period closes on Friday 8 September at 4.00 pm.

The application can no longer be modified after submission. You will receive a confirmation of the successful receipt of the application immediately after sending.

We only process applications submitted by the deadline.

Evaluation and funding decisions

The Nessling Foundation will send the applications for evaluation to a multidisciplinary committee of experts, whose members represent the themes emphasised by the Foundation. The key criteria for funding decisions can be found through the Open Calls landing page. We explain our entire evaluation process in the article How does Nessling Foundation select projects for funding?

The governing board of the Nessling Foundation decides on the awarding of grants on the basis of the expert committee’s proposal.

We will publish the 2023 grantees on our website on 16 November. Applicants will also be notified of the decision by e-mail.

We do not provide written feedback on the application decisions, but we offer feedback by phone in separately booked sessions after the decisions have been published. We open the booking calendar for feedback sessions on our website at the same time as we publish the projects that will receive funding.