Pilot project to support EU project applications – Mikko Salmela's PLEDGE project received support through the project

A pilot project by HSSH and HU Research Funding Services aims to get more applications for EU's Horizon Europe funding and to increase the amount of international research funding.

HSSH's key tasks include supporting applications for external international research funding. The goal is to get more applications for EU's Horizon Europe funding and to increase the amount of international research funding. To achieve this goal HSSH, together with HU's Research Funding Services, has implemented a pilot project offering distinguished researchers support for writing the Horizon Europe consortium application. Three researchers and research groups were selected for the first phase of the project.

Docent Mikko Salmela was one of the researchers participating with his project "Politics of Grievance and Democratic Governance" (PLEDGE). "Politics of grievance" is politics that starts from perceived injustices and emphasizes them. Examples are civil rights movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, environmental movements such as Elokapina and Fridays for Future, and right-wing populist political movements. PLEDGE interprets political grievances as emotional signals of disaffection, frustration and insecurities that can develop into either anti- or prodemocratic outcomes.

"The PLEDGE project intends to offer new understanding of anti- and pro-democratic trajectories of political grievances, and to co-create tools and practices of emotionally intelligent and responsive democratic governance and policy communication that promote prodemocratic forms of civic engagement. The project will provide a framework of the emotional mechanisms of anti- and prodemocratic grievance politics that explain dynamic interrelations between the emotions, values, and identities of citizens and groups, and empirically decode the psychological, sociocultural, and political drivers of these emotional mechanisms into operationalizable measures and indicators,” Salmela says.

The project involves 15 partners – researchers, policy makers, civil society actors and citizens – from 11 European countries; and its context is the political debate about the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, and the climate and energy crisis.

The application of the PLEDGE project became the pilot of HSSH's support program, as the submission dates of the other two applications selected for the program are later this year and next year. Salmela was satisfied with the support program.

"I am very happy and grateful that HSSH gave me and the consortium I assembled the opportunity to participate in the support program for EU project applications. In my long research career, I have had time to study many topics. The topic of this application, political psychology, is the latest, and it is great that HSSH wanted to support our interdisciplinary application," he says.

According to Salmela, the most valuable contribution of the support program was the salary of a postdoc for three months to prepare the application, the advice of Research Funding Services experts, and the application writing workshop organized in Helsinki at the beginning of February.

"Ruta Kazlauskaite, who was hired as a postdoc, did an excellent job, and her contribution to the completion of the application was invaluable. Sanna Villikka and Riikka Sarasjärvi from Research Funding Services helped as best they could both in preparing the consortium's budget and by advising us about the support offered by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council for EU project applications. This support was important because it allowed more consortium members to be invited to the project's writing workshop. Applying for support turned out to be a remarkably bureaucratic process compared to HSSH's support but was successful in the end. In addition to HSSH's support, I would like to thank Emilia Palonen for the cooperation related to project management, which made it possible to send the application," Salmela says.

"24 applications were submitted in the call, and supposedly three projects receive funding, so the competition is fierce. HSSH's support program offered our consortium the opportunity to prepare a competitive application. Let's hope for the best!"

The feedback received so far from the implemented pilot project has been positive and HSSH intends to continue to offer support for making EU applications. The exact form of the support will be determined when the experience offered by the pilot project has been analyzed and the limits of resources have been clarified. The next round of support will be informed at a joint press conference by HSSH and Research Funding Services on May 23, 2023.

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