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Society and health lose out in latest research budget

Society and Health research will lose a significant amount of funding in the Finnish government’s budget framework for 2014-2017, while funding for innovation will increase.

In the framework, which came out on 27 March, budgets for research at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Social Insurance Institution (KELA) have been cut by about €30 million. Instead, funding for innovation programmes at the Academy of Finland has increased by €10m, in particular funding targeted at ICT research.

A further €20m has been earmarked for spending on fields in which large-scale technological and structural changes are happening, including funding for small businesses and start-ups.

Finland’s trade unions have criticised the cuts within the government’s funding framework. Akava, Finland’s union for professional staff, has said that the reduction could “destroy all innovative research work”, as private companies interested in social and health research need public spending as an incentive to invest.

Harri Vainio, the chief executive officer of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, added that the government’s decision would also reduce the ability of his institution to compete for EU funding.