II Partnership model

A flexible partnership model will create conditions for long-term RDI cooperation. Support for partnerships will strengthen high-quality research environments, cutting edges, networks and ecosystems. The aim is to improve utilisation of RDI activities to renew the business community and society, and to increase the international attractiveness of Finland for research, business and investment.

The partnerships will be supported through the Academy of Finland’s flagship programme, Business Finland’s business driver funding, and other funding that supports cooperation. The Academy of Finland and Business Finland will intensify their strategic cooperation in developing and implementing the partnership model. RDI partnerships and public-private cooperation will be supported through ecosystem agreements between the central government and university towns and cities and other regional funding instruments. There is a need to strengthen the coherence of national and regional development activities in order to increase their effectiveness. Funding instruments will facilitate different types of partnerships in support of long-term RDI cooperation.

Support for partnerships must be long-term and predictable. Participants will be required to make a long-term commitment to the goals and development of each partnership. The coverage of the model, new ways of working and cross-administrative cooperation must be increased further in order to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of RDI activities. The funding base needs to be expanded by exploiting the potential of EU and other international cooperation and support funding.

High-quality RDI activities require high-quality and competitive research and innovation infrastructures, the utilisation of new knowledge and the strengthening of internationalisation. Companies need to be encouraged to engage in bolder RDI activities and utilise research more than at present. In addition, new approaches are required to support the solving of societal challenges. 

Further development of the partnership model

16. The responsible ministries and funding organisations will develop the flexible partnership model and its funding instruments to be more broadly based, to support the quality and effectiveness of research as well as sustainable growth and the renewal of business and industry. The mutual complementarity and coverage of funding instruments will be strengthened to support all phases of RDI activities as well as all RDI actors, such as universities, universities of applied sciences, research institutes, companies of all sizes and third sector actors.

i. RDI funding providers, together with stakeholders, will develop funding instruments and programme activities taking into account all phases of RDI activities as well as experiences with piloting the partnership model and the recommendations of evaluations.

ii. Business Finland will allocate RDI funding to innovation and business ecosystems that renew business and industry and create international business and high value-added jobs. The development of new ecosystems will strengthen applied research aimed at renewing society and industries as well as the role of new business activities arising from research. Business Finland will support a major renewal of businesses, new structural solutions and thereby bolder risk-taking.

iii. Based on a mid-term evaluation of the Academy of Finland’s Flagships, the Academy of Finland and the Ministry of Education and Culture will prepare further measures to strengthen the centres of excellence built around the flagships and to support research, development of flagship ecosystems and companies’ participation in ecosystems.

iv. In order to increase the effectiveness and quality of RDI activities, RDI system actors will utilise the competence and infrastructures produced by projects promoting digitalisation and the green transition and supported by the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland.

17. Ministries will launch the preparation of a new challenge- and mission-based approach to implementing and funding research and innovation. Through missions, the aim to address major global challenges and transitions, which often require systemic solutions, the simultaneous utilisation of several policy actions (RDI, regulation, procurement, information management) and cross-sectoral cooperation. Preparation will draw on experiences and evaluations of current policies and funding.

18. Together with its own and other administrative branch actors as well as companies, the Ministry of Education will develop practices for the joint provision of RDI services to companies and public sector organisations by vocational education, higher education institutions and research institutes. Methods will be built on existing cooperation and vocational education competence, particularly in practice-based innovations.

19. Regional specialisation and the role of cities as innovation development platforms as well as the construction of internationally networked innovation clusters will be strengthened through ecosystem agreements between the central government and university towns and cities as well as other regional funding instruments. Funding providers, regional councils, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, other regional actors and cities will intensify dialogue and cooperation to increase synergies between RDI measures. EU financial instruments will be harnessed to support cooperation between regional actors and networking of regions nationally and internationally.

Research infrastructures and innovation environments

20. High-quality research and innovation infrastructures are essential for high-quality RDI activities. Strengthening and developing them will require a significant permanent increase in the current level of funding and predictability in funding.

i. The Academy of Finland will appoint a new Research Infrastructure Committee for the term beginning in spring 2022 and will assign it the task of updating the national research infrastructures roadmap. The Academy of Finland’s research infrastructure funding will promote the openness and shared use of research infrastructures at the national level in order to strengthen the effectiveness of research.

ii. Companies and public research organisations will develop shared and open experimental and pilot environments.

iii. Ministries, funding providers, research organisations and IT Centre for Science (CSC) will develop a research and innovation environment for data management and computing (including high-performance and quantum computing) and its services for the RDI needs of higher education institutions, research institutes and companies. The national research infrastructure for data management and computing will be updated, taking into account European (including EuroHPC) developments.

iv. In 2022, the Ministry of Education and Culture will launch an evaluation of the tasks, activities and funding of the Academy of Finland’s Research Infrastructure Committee and its predecessor, the FIRI expert group.

Availability and utilisation of data in RDI activities

21. Ministries will promote data utilisation through open science, regulation, agreements and industry self-regulation, drawing on European and international cooperation.

22. Ministries will identify barriers to data availability and utilisation, competence, funding and investment needs, and international best practices. In addition, ministries will develop the measurement of the effects of value creation related to the data utilisation and promote the opening and use of the data resources of public sector authorities in RDI activities. Adequate availability of labour in the sector (including data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity) must be ensured in order to achieve these goals.

Research effectiveness, further processing and research-based companies

23. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Education and Culture, funding providers and research organisations will jointly develop and compile a knowledge base on the commercialisation of research results and on research- and student-based companies as well as on sources of smart capital for a databank to be established later. The databank will enhance opportunities for domestic and international investors to finance and develop (smart capital) research-based companies at an earlier stage than at present.

24. Higher education institutions and research institutes will strengthen cooperation in the development and implementation of competence (including IPR practices) that support the further processing and commercialisation of research results as well as nationally networked services, operating models and business accelerators.

EU and international cooperation, networks and funding

25. The action plan for the utilisation of EU programmes, being prepared under the leadership of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Finance, will set qualitative and quantitative goals for Finland’s EU participation and funding allocation. Adequate resources will be ensured for participation in and utilisation of the programmes.

i. Ministries and funding providers will coordinate better than at present national policies and funding related to EU partnerships.

ii. Higher education institutions, research institutes and companies will work together to develop approaches to utilising EU programmes.

iii. Led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, new operating models will be developed to support the parallel use of national, regional and EU financial instruments (including Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, InvestEU programmes) with the aim of strengthening ecosystems.

26. The share of total R&D funding accounted for by international funding will be increased. Ministries will encourage RDI organisations seeking funding to strengthen their capabilities to apply for and utilise international R&D funding.

27. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Culture, guidelines will be prepared during 2022 to strengthen the internationalisation of higher education and research.

28. Led by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the coverage of the Team Finland Knowledge network’s operating locations will be reviewed to ensure that the network meets the needs of international higher education and RDI co-operation in the best possible way.

29. The Team Finland network will support the deepening of research and innovation cooperation with third countries, strengthening the market knowledge and partnerships of Finnish companies and RDI actors, as well as connecting to global value networks and demand-driven business ecosystems.

30. As part of their normal activities, RDI actors and ministries will strengthen science diplomacy and cooperation within it.