Research provides a new understanding of environmental solutions as well as ways to drive a societal change

Kallioinen merenranta

The Nessling Foundation’s 2020 general grant call ended on September 11th. We will grant funding for PhD projects, implementation of scientific information and multidisciplinary research projects.

This year, the grant applications showed a number of research projects that challenge the meanings and definitions of human identity, consumption and well-being. The special call highlighted in different ways the dependence of the human economy and health on climate and biodiversity. Several of the information implementation projects aimed at systemic change in entire sectors, such as agriculture and forestry, healthcare, education, and the textile industry.

The Foundation increasingly wants to focus its funding on ways to change the current discourse and actions. As a result, the number of applications we received, 283, was exceptionally low compared to previous years.

This year, we will only award personal grants for early-stage PhD projects. Other grants were available for the implementation of scientific information and multidisciplinary research projects, both of which had strict guidelines. The highest number of applications was received in the PhD project category.

Nessling_Apurahahaku_Applications 2020

Young researchers want to take part in solving global challenges

The goal of the Foundation’s PhD project grant is to encourage young researchers to take up novel research topics that will help them understand and solve the planet’s ecological crisis. We also want to encourage young researchers to be active actors outside academia. We wish to see the voice of researchers as a significant part of the societal debate.

PhD project grants were applied from a very wide range of different disciplines. Based on the applications, young researchers have a good understanding of their role as solvers of global challenges as well as societal influencers.

Research information is implemented in society through the cooperation of the producer and user of the information

Scientific research has generated a huge amount of knowledge, but one-way communication alone is not enough to turn knowledge into action. In the grant call, we were looking for projects that involve both researchers and end-users of research information.

We believe that collaboration between information producers and users will build new ways of working that can spread across different societal sectors. In a pleasing number of applications, ambitious co-operation was planned to transform the activities of entire sectors to take into account and adapt to the planet’s environmental challenges.

The special call invited different disciplines in cooperation with each other

The special call aimed to produce multidisciplinary research in which natural systems would also be taken into account as a basis for human health and the economy. We hoped to get economists, medicine and health scientists, in particular, to collaborate with natural or social scientists. In many applications, this wish came true.

These new types of research openings are needed to make climate and biodiversity at the heart of economic and health conversations in both societal debate and decision-making.

Nessling_Apurahahaku_Applications by field 2020

Systemic challenges require interdisciplinarity in solutions, but also an understanding brought by individual disciplines

In the applications, multidisciplinary projects became the largest group this year – systemic challenges require a systemic, multidisciplinary approach. Natural science projects have traditionally been overrepresented in our Foundation’s grant calls and were again the largest single group of disciplines this year. The natural sciences bring an understanding of the functioning of natural systems and the changes that take place there.

Alongside the natural sciences, other disciplines emerged as a growing mass. Other disciplines bring more understanding and solutions to the actions of individuals, industries and societies, as well as concrete proposals for ways to change human activities. The applications are reminiscent of how badly we need cooperation and dialogue between researchers in different disciplines.

The Nessling Foundation’s grant decisions will be published in November 2020. Read how projects are selected for funding.