Research and innovation investments should not be compromised on

The heads of EU member states have started discussions on the EU’s long-term budget for 2021–2027. The University of Helsinki is demanding ambitious policies from Finland for the funding framework negotiations – now is the time to invest in the future.

Funding for the EU’s next research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe, must be increased considerably in order for the Union to strengthen its lead as a provider of solutions for complex global challenges. The framework funding should be closer to €120 billion, as the European Parliament elected by EU citizens has suggested, instead of what the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has proposed which is not even close to this sum.

According to Vice-Rector Paula Eerola of the University of Helsinki, securing the funding for the upcoming research and innovation framework programme should be particularly important for Finland. “We are a net beneficiary of the current Horizon 2020 framework programme,” Eerola points out.

Finnish operators have received over €1.13 billion of funding from Horizon 2020. The framework programme is responsible for a large share of foreign research and innovation funding in Finland not only for the higher education sector, but also for the public sector. According to Eerola it is important to increase the share of international RD&I and research funding – this is also one of the objectives of the government programme.

The European Research Council (ERC) funded by the framework programme is one of the success stories of European basic research. ERC promotes breakthrough research with research grants awarded to both promising researchers as well as seasoned professionals in their fields. A good example among Finnish researchers is the cancer researcher and Academy Professor Kari Alitalo. Alitalo's research group studies difficult and socially significant diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and the importance of lymphatic vessels in the healing of brain injuries.

“The budget decision made by the heads of the European Union member states is important, since it speaks of the commitment to the EU’s future, on the one hand, and of the values and goals on the basis of which Europe is built, on the other. I hope that in the upcoming EU budget negotiations, Finland shows that it is genuinely ready to invest in science and the creation of innovations as well as to develop the wellbeing of Europe in the long run,” says Eerola.

Did you know that...
  • Finland is a net beneficiary in the EU research framework programmes and has repatriated over €1.13 billion from the EU’s research and innovation framework programme, Horizon 2020.

  • The Horizon 2020 programme is the source of much of the international R&I funding received by the Finnish higher education and public sectors. Research funding from the EU accounts for 12% of the budget of the University of Helsinki and was €25 million in 2018.

  • Over 80% of the projects funded by the current framework programme would have not been established without EU funding.

  • One in four projects assessed as excellent by the Horizon 2020 programme does not get funded due to the underfunding of the programme.