Tuomas Olkku istuu kannettavan tietokoneen ääressä, käsissään kynä ja vihko.
Executive Director of KAUTE Foundation, Tuomas Olkku.

How to apply for research grants

News article

The competition for research grants is fierce. A grant foundation and a post doc researcher share some advice on how to write a good application.

KAUTE Foundation, which supports research in economics and technical sciences, is awarding roughly one million euros this year to researchers in economics and technical sciences. The total sum has increased from 600,000–700,000 euros in past years.

“This year, grants will be available to more than 50 applicants,” says Executive Director of the foundation Tuomas Olkku.

Grants for research visits abroad are currently open for application until 14 April under the Researchers Abroad (Tutkijat maailmalle) program.

The spring application round of the Post Docs in Companies program, which promotes the employment of doctors and is funded by several foundations, is open until 15 April. The spring application round of the Fulbright-KAUTE Foundation Award for research visits to the United States is open until the end of May.

“KAUTE is happy to support new, insightful research that often takes place at the interface between several different fields. We have the capacity to take risks,” says Olkku.

“The purpose of the foundation is to create benefits for Finnish business and the renewal of society, and we want to support research that meets the highest possible scientific standards. Sometimes we find a package that combines these qualities, but not necessarily in the same study.”

When it comes to travel grants, KAUTE encourages longer research visits of at least one month, preferably six months in open calls, as these foster deeper cooperation with foreign colleagues.

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Tuomas Olkku lukee kannettavan tietokoneen näytöltä jotakin ja kirjoittaa samalla vihkoon.
Write your name in history. You can make donations of different sizes to the KAUTE Foundation.

“They are tax-deductible up to 50,000 euros and can be targeted according to the donor’s wishes. We also have special funds, often established by people who have been successful in business, and the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK also has its own special fund at the KAUTE Foundation,” says Tuomas Olkku.

A clear application stands out

Reviewers read dozens, if not hundreds of grant applications.

“Keeping it concise and popularizing the research to some extent is a good idea. It is important that the one-page abstract gives you an idea of what the research is all about and whether it is interesting for the foundation or not,” says Olkku.

Most reviewers have a background in research, some in industry. The reader may not necessarily be an expert on the applicant’s specific field of research.

“All reviewers first review the applications independently and then compile a short-list based on the average ratings. Some applications receive good reviews from everyone. Mediocre applications and the ones about which opinions strongly diverge are discussed together.”

The acceptance rate has been around ten per cent.

“Some good applications are always left out, but you should not take that personally. You should try again next year and apply for funding from more than one place. I believe that it's a plus if you have first been considered fundable and received a grant from us and then you go on to apply for a bigger grant elsewhere.”

As the foundation’s Executive Director, Tuomas Olkku sees the full range of research that is being conducted in Finland in economics and technical sciences.

“It gives me faith in the future. Despite there being major challenges in the world, there are also a lot of people who are working on solutions. I wish good luck to everyone who has chosen a career in research!”

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Tuomas Olkku kävelee ylös portaita sisätiloissa.
Visibility. “You should promote your research also through other channels besides academic publications. KAUTE organizes blog writing and research communication training for grant recipients,” says Executive Director at the KAUTE Foundation Tuomas Olkku.

Establish a good application process

Kimmo Kartasalo has applied for grants with a good success rate since 2016 when he started working on his doctoral thesis.

He earned his D.Sc. (Tech.) degree at the Tampere University in 2021 and now works as a postdoctoral researcher at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He is developing an artificial intelligence system to be used in pathology to detect prostatic cancer in biopsies.

Kartasalo has sent almost one hundred grant applications over seven years.

“Applying for funding takes a lot of time, you should create a good process. I have compiled a list for myself that is run every month that shows the application deadlines of each foundation.”

Think of the big picture

You should tailor your application to the funding provider.

“Get to the point fast: what is relevant about your project and what makes it so great. In your abstract, provide a condensed explanation of the whole idea so that the reader does not have to go through page after page of technical details.”

Then, you need to present your research plan. If you are focusing only on your study, your perspective is too narrow.

“It is a good idea to think strategically about the bigger picture. Your research solves a particular problem, focus on that: what makes it relevant in the wider perspective? Why is this premise justified? What is something new that your research would bring to this issue on an international scale?”

You need to update your research plan as the work progresses or as new projects come up.

“The most effective thing is to apply as much as you can. You won't get it, unless you apply, and what you apply for, you get.”

Harmonizing application practices would save time.

“It would be great to see foundations come to an understanding about an application standard, or even an industry-specific one. Some require a five-page research plan, others require ten pages, some no more than three images, others request the images as a separate attachment.”

Being international takes you to a new level

For Kartasalo, the greatest benefit of the grant for doctoral studies was internationalization.

“I was able to attend conferences, meet researchers in the field and organize research visits to the Uppsala University and Karolinska Institute. Gaining access to different research environments takes the doctoral thesis to a whole new level: you gain new ideas when you see that the same problems can be addressed in so many different ways.”

The grant of 22,000 euros from the KAUTE Foundation enabled Kartasalo's work in his first post-doc year.

“A researcher has to earn their bread as well.”

Now, in the second post-doc year, the individual grant has also brought benefits to others.

“It means that the bigger grants of the research team can be allocated to younger doctoral researchers who find it hard to obtain funding for themselves at first, and we also get new researchers.”

In Sweden, research grants are aimed at senior researchers and larger research groups.

“Doctoral researchers are employed throughout their research, meaning that their funding does not come to an end even if they continue working on their thesis for, say, five years.”

Kimmo Kartasalo mustavalkoisessa henkilökuvassa, joka on otettu ulkona.
Kimmo Kartasalo, photo: Gunilla Sonnebring

Grant sources


Grants from the KAUTE Foundation for research in economics and technical sciences, research visits abroad, the dissemination of research results and the development of university education.


Grants for research visits of at least six months to foreign universities.


Post Docs in Companies is a joint grant program of several foundations aiming to promote the employment of young doctors in companies.


Scholarship program for doctoral studies and research visits to the United States.

research.fi/en/ > Open funding calls

Information collected from public and private research funders. You can find grant calls in your field on the front page under “Open funding calls”.


Member foundations of the Association of Finnish Foundations, funding calls and instructions for grant applicants and those proposing theses.