VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has analysed changes in the Finnish research system in 1995–2011 and published, for the first time, a map of Finnish science. Finnish science has become diverse, and alongside traditional medical and natural sciences, a new, strong foothold for growth has emerged from information technology, social science and economics.
It is important to understand what Finnish science consists of, while the Finnish science system is undergoing drastic changes. Recently, there has been spirited discussion about planned cuts in funding, demands to make the universities' roles clearer, selections of strategic focus points, and measuring the quality of universities' results.
VTT's Executive Vice President of Strategic Research Anne Ritschkoff emphasises the fact that universities and applied research institutions each have a specific role. The impact of research is needed, and it can only be achieved through seamless cooperation between applied and basic research. Ritschkoff also states that there will be consequences due to the changes currently targeted at research funding and research organisations, and their effects on Finland's innovation ability must be forecasted and measured.
Changes in the Finnish science system were analysed in VTT's Co-evolution of knowledge creation systems and innovation pipelines (CEK) project. For the first time, a map of Finland's scientific production was also created based on an analysis of natural language.
The study results reveal that Finnish science has become diverse. Traditionally, Finnish science has relied on two key areas: research in medical science and natural sciences. A new, internationally significant foothold is being developed alongside them that consists of extensive research in information technology, social science and economics. This combination has been the most significant growth component for Finnish science, when results are measured in terms of international scientific publications. However, it is still not clear which individual research topics will play a significant role in the Finnish research map in the future.
A new approach that is based on the analysis of natural language and machine learning highlights interesting growth areas in Finnish science. These include the following: medical research related to musculoskeletal disorders, finance and economics, research related to education and materials science, especially ALD technique (Atomic Layer Deposition).
In Finland, significant changes are currently under way in the social structure, and as a result, the importance of impact assessment of research and innovation systems will increase in political decision-making. However, decision-making that is related to science and innovation politics should be based on researched and reliable information. Major changes that have been planned in research funding, the operation of research organisations and focus points between basic and applied research will require indicators that can be used for estimating in a reliable manner the variable research field and the effects of decisions related to science politics.
Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation has provided funding for the CEK research project.
Article: The article by Arho Suominen and Hannes Toivanen on the map of Finnish science has been published in the distinguished Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology and is freely available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asi.23596/abstract
A picture of the map of Finnish science