The University of Helsinki is launching an impact accelerator programme for researchers. It is a coaching process which aims to boost the research funding, impact and business collaboration.
The accelerator continues the work of the impact clinic which started in 2015 and is intended to cover the basics of research impact. The accelerator will focus on practical work and generate opportunities for using basic research.
The first accelerator will start in late January 2016 at Think Company Helsinki on the City Centre Campus.
Joel Takala, senior research funding advisor, describes the impact accelerator as a coaching process.
“During the accelerator programme, we will go through the skills necessary for drafting an effective funding application. The coaching consists of both contact days and practical assignments. Our goal is to generate stronger funding applications which in turn will produce more externally funded projects for the University,” Takala explains.
The accelerator is intended primarily for researchers looking for funding from sources which require a high research impact. Such funders include Tekes, Horizon 2020 and the Strategic Research Council. The purpose of the accelerator is to connect researchers to the networks that are relevant for their research ideas, to train them in communicating the research idea and to find the correct funding instrument for the project.
Positive experiences of coaching
The CoPassion project at the Faculty of Theology went through a similar coaching process. The project is based on long-term basic research, and during the coaching, the benefit of the research was explained to companies which would be able to use the results to develop their business.
The CoPassion project received seven-figure funding from Tekes and corporate partners. Stakeholder cooperation is important for Tekes projects.
“I would encourage all researchers to find the individuals or groups that will benefit from the research and to plan the research and the exploitation of its results together with them,” says Jenni Spännäri, a researcher in the CoPassion project.
Head of Services Maarit Haataja was one of the coaches for the project and explains that the coaching focused on communicating the research to stakeholders.
“Research impact does not mean that researchers should become entrepreneurs. It means that research results are put to use in practice, for example in existing companies or the society at large.”
All fields of science together!
The impact accelerator programme requires that researchers sign up as teams of two or more. The researchers must also have a new research idea which will then be accelerated.
“The research idea can be from any field at all. The more projects we get that transcend fields of science or research organisations, the better.” Teams from other research organisations are also welcome, as long as the team features at least one member from the University of Helsinki,” explains Joel Takala, who runs the impact accelerator programme.
The impact accelerator programme is organised by Research Affairs and Helsinki Innovation Services (HIS).