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More than 100 researchers to foreign universities in ten years – find out how the KAUTE Foundation promotes the internationalization of researchers

International experiences of researchers are valuable to Finnish research. The KAUTE Foundation supports the internationalization of researchers with several grant programs.

The goal of the KAUTE Foundation is to promote the sustainable renewal of Finnish society and companies. To achieve this goal, the foundation supports business and technical sciences, and for more than ten years has invested heavily in supporting the internationalization of researchers in these fields.

During the years 2011-2023, the foundation has distributed travel grants totaling approximately 1.2 million euros for the internationalization of researchers and students. Over the past ten years, the foundation has financed the visits of about 100 researchers to high-level foreign universities and research institutes, and supported 80 students’ exchange studies or other study courses abroad.

“Research visits to foreign top universities promote the quality and impact of Finnish research by giving researchers new perspectives, research opportunities and international networks, which the entire research community benefits from,” says Tuomas Olkku, the Executive Director of the KAUTE Foundation.

KAUTE supports the internationalization of researchers with various grant programs

KAUTE awards travel grants to researchers through several different grant programs. Many of the programs aim to promote internationalization for doctoral researchers and young postdoctoral researchers, but the foundation also provides funding for exchange studies for business students.

1. The Researchers Abroad program funds research visits of 6-12 months to foreign universities and research institutions

For over ten years, KAUTE’s most significant application channel for travel grants has been the Researchers Abroad program. The foundation funds the program in collaboration with the Walter Ahlström Foundation, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Nokia Foundation, which joined the program this year. The Researchers Abroad program provides funding for 6-12 month research visits for researchers in technical and business studies to high-level foreign universities or research institutions.

Through the program, the foundation has funded research visits for 40 researchers, totaling over 680,000 euros. The program allows applicants to seek funding for top universities around the world, from the United States to Asia and from Europe to Oceania. Grant recipients have had the opportunity to visit institutions such as Oxford University, Stanford University, Harvard University, MIT, the Singapore Management University, and the Australian National University.

“With this program, researchers can reach four different foundations at once with one application. In total, the program has funded 225 research visits and awarded nearly 5 million euros in grants,” says Olkku.

2. General grant applications process enables shorter research visits

In the foundation’s general grant application process held every spring, travel grants are awarded for research visits lasting less than six months. By 2023, 64 research visits have been funded through this process. The average amount of a travel grant from the general application is 4,800 euros.

“As a foundation, we want to focus on longer research visits, but sometimes shorter visits are justified and beneficial for research,” says Olkku.

3. The Fulbright-KAUTE Foundation Award takes researchers to the United States

The Fulbright-KAUTE Foundation grant enables researchers and professionals in business and technical fields to carry out research or development projects in the United States. The goal is to promote research collaboration between Finland and the US.

Doctoral students, young postdoctoral researchers, and professionals in business, economics, and technical sciences can apply for the grants. The duration of funded visits is 3-12 months, with a maximum grant amount of 30,000 dollars. More information about Fulbright grants can be found here.

“Research visits to America often require researchers a great deal of time and money, as the research world there is highly bureaucratic, hierarchical, and complex. Without the foundation’s support, I would never have been able to conduct my research in Florida. The Fulbright program provides researchers with incredible opportunities,” says Riikka Harikkala-Laihinen, a Fulbright-KAUTE grant recipient.

Internationalization enriches research and supports researchers’ career development

According to KAUTE’s impact assessment, the research visits supported by the foundation contribute to the development of Finnish research and researchers’ careers.

“When different cultures and backgrounds come together, it helps researchers to examine problems from different perspectives. Today’s research aims to solve global challenges such as climate change, which requires interdisciplinary and heterogeneous thinking,” says Olkku.

Research abroad can offer opportunities to collect and use data that may not be available in one’s home country. Several recipients of KAUTE grants have reported that research visits have helped them conduct higher-quality research than they could have done in Finland.

“The research field in finance is largely focused on the United States. These trips are vital for gaining new ideas and the impact of my research, as the most influential and skilled people in this field are in the US,” says Juuso Nissinen, a doctoral researcher in finance who conducted a research visit at UCLA with support from KAUTE.

Internationalization clearly supports researchers’ own career development as well. Grant recipients of the Researchers Abroad program have reported gaining new perspectives on their work and confidence in pursuing an international career. Many have also mentioned obtaining new and better positions in the academic world or significant funding for their research after the grant period.

“Collaboration networks established abroad can bring new career opportunities, and international experience can offer significant advantages when applying for the next job or research funding,” says Olkku.

“I believe it is important for researchers to have opportunities to collaborate with international leaders in their field already during their doctoral studies. Often, this requires seeking opportunities at top foreign universities for various periods of time.”

Learn more about KAUTE’s travel grants: