Finland launches programme to attract best brains

Brussels, 18 Sep 2006

The Academy of Finland and Tekes, the country's funding agency for technology and innovation, have launched a new €17.5 million programme aimed at attracting the best international brains to Finland. The Finland Distinguished Professor Programme (FiDiPro) will recruit a total of 24 professors in science and technology from abroad to come and work at 12 Finnish universities or research institutes for a period of 2-5 years. The first researchers will begin work as of the beginning of 2007.

Of the €17.5 million earmarked for the researchers' projects, a total of €10.6 million will be provided by the Academy of Finland, while Tekes will supply the remaining €6.9 million euros.

The goal of the programme, according to the Tekes and the Academy, is to raise the level of scientific and technological knowledge and know-how in Finland and add a more international element to the Finnish research system. It is also geared towards supporting research-driven profiling of universities and research institutes and creating new kind of international cooperation between university-based research and business companies.

In 2006, Finnish universities and research were asked to define their competence areas and specify any foreign or expatriate Finnish researchers who could further create further excellence in these areas. The final 24 candidates were selected out of a total of 100 researchers.

'The FiDiPro call generated exceptionally strong interest among universities, and the professors selected through international reviews proved to be top-rate researchers. It's also interesting to note that some top researchers, who've long worked abroad, are disposed to return home,' said President Raimo Väyrynen of the Academy of Finland.

Plans are already afoot for a second FiDiPro round of applications to be opened in 2007.

'This is, however, only the beginning,' said Tekes Director General Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara. 'The set goal of adding a genuine international element to our research system and increasing its appeal still requires much work. The FiDiPro Programme is one form of cooperation we can make good use of in this work.'

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