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The Research and Innovation Council of Finland Recommends Action

Policy Guidelines for 2011-2015

The Research and Innovation Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, has adopted this policy report on education, research and innovation policy. The Council sets out the national strategy guidelines and development programme for the next few years. The objective is for Finland to strengthen its position among the top knowledge and competence-based countries. The basic requirement for balanced and sustainable development is growth in productivity. Education, research and innovation policy supports economic growth and the positive development of the national economy, the sustainable renewal of society and the well-being of Finnish citizens. The programme will accelerate the reform of the research and innovation system initiated under the current government. 

Succeeding in an open and dynamic operating environment requires new ways of working and the development of structures, as well as experiments and risk-taking. It is important that Finland makes choices that support specialisation in competitive areas of strength. It is vital for Finland to be able to identify promising research, competence and business areas. Grand challenges must be taken into account in a more systematic manner. The operating culture of the public sector must be changed in a way that serves the implementation of overarching development actions.

Development programme

The measures implemented in the development programme will result in higher quality education and research as well as successful innovations, in addition to the creation of new jobs and growth businesses. The programme will be the means of executing broad-based innovation policy.

Improving the quality of scientific research will create opportunities for successful applications. The importance of universities and research institutes in preserving, transferring and renewing knowledge, education and culture is central. Incentives will be created for higher education institutions to engage in co-operation with companies, and the effective exploitation of competences will be advanced. Non-technological and social innovations must be created and partnerships, users and customers will play a key role in making this happen. The ability to convert knowledge from all stakeholders into practical solutions and new businesses must be improved.

The aim is to increase the number of companies involved in research and innovation activities. An R&D tax incentive scheme for companies will be introduced. Public business and innovation services will be developed to better meet the needs of companies. Private investors are encouraged to contribute to the funding of knowledge-based businesses. The public sector will promote the emergence of lead markets and utilise public procurement and other policy tools that can have an impact on demand. The regulatory framework and steering systems will support the exploitation of research and innovation activities and experiments.

Internationalisation is at the heart of all education, research and innovation activities. The funding and steering of education, research and innovation activities are being developed to support internationalisation. The recruitment practices of higher education institutions and research institutes must be made more attractive to international students, researchers and experts. Finland will adopt a proactive approach to the reform of the EU research and innovation policy. The adaptability of EU programmes to changes in the operating environment and their ability to react to company needs should be improved. Opening up national programmes and funding will enhance the development of the European research and innovation area.

Evaluation activities will be strengthened and internationalised. Evaluation results should be better taken into consideration in decision-making. The international evaluations of Tekes and the Academy of Finland as well as those of Strategic Centres of Excellence in science, technology and innovation (SHOKs) will be carried out by 2013.

The steering and funding of higher education institutions and research institutes will be reformed in a way that supports improving the quality of education and research, internationalisation, the utilisation of research outcomes and specialisation. The role of polytechnics within the innovation system will be clarified. The strategic steering of public research institutes will be strengthened. At the beginning of the next term of government, the structural development of the public research institutes will be outlined. An action plan extending to 2020 on the development of the public research institute sector will be drawn up.

The operating model for the Centres of Expertise Programme (OSKE) will be revised. This will result in the introduction of more effective tools and co-operation frameworks that are separate for research and innovation policy as well as regional policy. The activities of the Strategic Centres of Excellence (SHOKs) will be strengthened and their funding base will be expanded. A body for preparing and implementing national infrastructure policy will be established to serve the development of research infrastructures. The Government will decide at the beginning of its term of office on the basic guidelines for the national information policy in order to promote the utilisation of public data resources.

The level of education of the population will be raised. In order to meet educational needs, it will be necessary to expand the recruitment base and make education more international as well as improve the quality of education. Central to this will be internationalisation based on the high level of education and research together with increasing the attractiveness of research careers. Effective structures will be created for cooperation between the public and private sectors. Inter-sectoral mobility will be encouraged. Higher education legislation will be amended to better facilitate the export of education.

Funding

Finland’s objective is to maintain the R&D funding share of GDP at 4 per cent in the 2010s. Public investment should be 1.2 per cent of GDP. In its report, the Council presents a programme for increasing public research and innovation funding that supports this policy guideline. The amount of R&D funding will be increased by a minimum of 4.0 per cent per annum in real terms. The most important funding targets are research infrastructures, basic research and development of tenure tracks for researchers, fields of education, research and innovation activities of the highest international level and other selected focus areas, SHOKs and internationalisation. The priority areas for innovation funding include safeguarding the competitiveness of and innovation in areas of strength in business and industry as well as companies, the promotion of demand and user-based innovation activities and experiments supporting it, and supporting growth businesses.

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