University Of Helsinki Gets Substantial Funding For Sustainability Research

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The University of Helsinki has succeeded in the latest round of the competitive funding for university strategic profiling (Profi) organized by the Academy of Finland. The aim of the Profi instrument is to support and speed up the strategic profiling of Finnish universities improving the quality of research. €30.1 million has been granted to the University in this Profi 7 round, with the international panel of experts ranking UH’s application as the best among all 13 proposals submitted by Finnish universities.

As in previous rounds, an internal selection process for profiling areas was based on long-term preparation work between the Faculties and Independent institutes. During Autumn 2021 six initiatives were submitted as Letters of Intent by the Faculties and Independent institutes, leading to the selection of two areas. UH’s chosen Profi 7 areas were purposefully aligned to advance UH’s strategic theme A sustainable and viable future for our globe, promoting the University’s strategic goal of being a world-class multidisciplinary hub for sustainability sciences.

Two sustainability-related profiling areas – RESET and InterEarth
The University of Helsinki included two highly interdisciplinary areas, spanning nine faculties and two independent institutes, in its Profi 7 application. The first, Resilient and Just Systems (RESET), aims to build an inter- and transdisciplinary research environment that bridges life and social sciences, offering sustainable and just solutions and increasing system resilience. The second, Interactions of Earth Components (InterEarth), aims to develop a hub for integrative environmental research, focusing on the interactions and feedback between all Earth components – biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and atmosphere.

RESET is led by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine with the involvement of seven other faculties across three campuses (Biological and Environmental Sciences, Agriculture and Forestry, Pharmacy, Medicine, Educational Sciences, Theology, and Social Sciences) as well as HiLIFE. Vice Dean and Associate Professor Tarja Sironen, who coordinated the preparations of the RESET profi area, is delighted that the application writing phase already created a basis for new kinds of collaboration across units:

“With RESET-area’s research we have a genuine opportunity to solve the greatest global challenges of our times. It’s great to get to realize these research ideas and build bridges across disciplines,” states Sironen.

InterEarth, on the other hand, is led by the Faculty of Science, involving two other faculties (Agriculture and Forestry, Biological and Environmental Sciences) and the Natural History Museum Luomus. Research Coordinator and Docent Anna Lintunen, who coordinated the writing of InterEarth, is looking forward to new opportunities for top science.

“I am really excited about this opportunity to increase interdisciplinary collaboration between several top-level research groups at the University studying different parts of the Earth system,” says Lintunen. “Utilizing comprehensive data from UH’s 8 research stations and combining it with AI analysis, allows us to tackle many burning research questions that are crucial for the sustainable future.“

Vice-Rector for research affairs Jouni Hirvonen is also pleased with the Profi 7 areas:

“The areas are clearly aligned with the University Strategy and include excellent plans for advancing sustainability research in complementary ways,” explains Hirvonen, who led the preparation of the proposal in spring 2022. “I would like to thank all those involved, researchers and university services alike, for the fantastic joint effort.”

The Profi 7 funding is granted for six years, starting on 1 January, 2023. The main profiling measures to be funded are professor-level positions, staff- and other senior scientists, early career researchers, and area-specific complementary measures.

Previous Profi calls
In the Profi 1 call, the University of Helsinki received €9 million for three profiling areas: HiLIFE, Physics and ICT, and Statistics.

In Profi 2, the University of Helsinki was granted €10.5 million for five profiling areas: Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities (HELDIG), Learning in the Digital World, Interdisciplinary Russian Studies, Behavioural Life Science, and Global Law.

In Profi 3, the University of Helsinki received €15 million for three profiling areas: Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR), Helsinki Centre for Data Science (HiDATA), and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS).

In Profi 4, €14 million was granted to the University of Helsinki for three profiling areas: Matter and Materials, Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ), and Helsinki One Health (HOH).

In Profi 5, the University of Helsinki was granted €14.7 million for three profiling areas: Thriving Nature, Finnish Platform for Pharmaceutical Research (FinPharma), and Mind and Matter.

In Profi 6, the University of Helsinki was granted €28.6 million for three profiling areas: Understanding the Human Brain (UHBRAIN), Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH): Intersections of People, Institutions and Technology, and Interdisciplinary Research for Health and Wellbeing (UHealth).