Research funding discussed at Lauttasaari Manor

Club Giraffe was invited by the Kone Foundation to visit the carefully restored Lauttasaari Manor. Every year, the Kone Foundation, one of the most important supporters of the University of Helsinki, awards more than €30 million in grants for Finnish research and arts.

New activity in the oldest buildings on the island

Club Giraffe, the donor community of the University of Helsinki, celebrated the end of the academic year by visiting the Kone Foundation in Lauttasaari where the foundation has relocated its operations into a manor built in the Empire style, located among ordinary residential buildings in Lauttasaari.

In 2015 the Kone Foundation purchased the manor, dating back to 1837, and the surrounding grounds from the City of Helsinki. In the subsequent renovation, layers from previous epochs starting from the time of construction to other renovations carried out in the 20th century were preserved. The grounds also encompass the island’s oldest building, the Red Villa from the 1790s, which houses a café open to all and a residence for artists and researchers. The restored English-style formal garden has been embellished with modern artworks produced by artists supported by the foundation.

– Creating an open and accessible public home with an edge and elegance was an important principle. The manor has been restored with consideration given to both its history and the needs of its users,” says Anna Talasniemi, executive director of the foundation.

Looking for bold initiatives

As one of Finland’s largest funders of research and the arts, the Kone Foundation has in recent years oriented itself towards looking for bold new initiatives. In this context, boldness means, among other things, traversing boundaries – both in terms of scientific fields and the arts as well as countries.

The foundation also encourages researchers, artists, journalists and activists of various fields to join their forces in the form of projects. Grant application rounds with specific themes are used to spur parties in the fields of ecology, social sciences and the humanities to collaborate in certain areas. The theme in 2018, ‘Our vital neighbours’, was left open to interpretation by applicants.

Another concern for the Kone Foundation is the future of scientists.

– Our goal is to improve the respect afforded to scientific research in the 2020s,” says Ilona Herlin, member of the boards of the Kone Foundation and the University of Helsinki.

According to Kalle Korhonen, the foundation’s director of research funding, in the future the focus will be on cuts to public funding, the status of grant-funded researchers and questions related to membership of the research community. The foundation is worried about researchers’ academic careers in terms of earning credit, career advancement, professional identity and finding their own place.

Photographs from the visit to Lauttasaari Manor can be viewed on the University of Helsinki Facebook page For the world.

The Kone Foundation supports the humanities and social sciences in particular, as well as environmental sciences and research in the arts. In 2015 the foundation made a donation of one million euros (article in Finnish only) in honour of the 375th anniversary of the University of Helsinki, allocating it to the humanities. With the donation, the University decided to establish an assistant professorship in the discipline of indigenous studies.

Annually, the Kone Foundation supports researchers of the University of Helsinki (article in Finnish only) by awarding them millions of euros in grants.