Open Call to Support the Helsinki Area ICT Research Community

Call target

HIIT supports initiatives that support HIIT’s mission and enhance the quality, collaborations, visibility and impact of the Helsinki area ICT research community. This open, continuous call is not restricted to the people working in one of the HIIT focus areas, but is open for the wider ICT community. The idea is that in this open call the target is to support activities with clear added value and high potential impact, in cases where no existing funding instrument is easily available or the available funding is not sufficient.

Our longer-term (over one year) commitments are channeled through postdoctoral researcher positions; in this open call we focus on shorter-term funding and support activities that take place during the current calendar year (so by default the proposed funding period should be within the running year). If the accepted funding cannot be used during the planned funding period, please inform the HIIT coordinator immediately; in particular, note that the funding cannot be carried on to the next year and in this case a new application may be needed. Activities to be funded may have started before submitting a funding request. We expect typical funding requests to be between 1.000 and 20.000 euros (with the lower end for example for sponsoring a workshop, and higher end for funding MSc thesis work (e.g., a few person months) on a topic matching the focus areas of HIIT or FCAI, or support collaborative research). In exceptional cases, we may consider even larger grants.

We use the same application form also for proposals of activities that support the research agenda of FCAI. If the proposal supports both the mission of HIIT and the agenda of FCAI, both FCAI and HIIT will process the request.

Who can apply?

For administrative reasons, the main applicant has to be one of the PIs at the CS, SPA or Comnet departments in Aalto or at the CS department in University of Helsinki. Note that in order to create wide impact, we in particularly welcome applications that involve several groups, or otherwise benefit the ICT community at large, not just a single supervisor or group. In case there are several groups/PIs involved in the application, please list them all as co-applicants. If the main applicant or the co-applicants change, the application needs to be re-submitted.

If the application involves a person who has been planned to be hired but who has not contributed in the formulation of the proposal and who can be replaced with someone else with a similar skill set (e.g. a research assistant/summer intern etc.), that person should NOT be listed as a co-applicant. However, any person to be hired should be still named in the application, as we are hesitant to support applications without a concrete plan of who would be hired in the project, while still accepting the possibility that sometimes plans need to be revised and names of short-time project workers can be changed without affecting the proposed work.

The main applicant will be the contact person, and will also be responsible for writing a news item afterwards.

Decision criteria

As already stated above, the objective of HIIT is to enhance the quality, visibility and impact of the Helsinki region research on information technology, so successful applications are expected to clearly support one or more of these objectives. In addition, as a joint research institute of Aalto University and University of Helsinki, priority is given to applications initiating or enhancing collaboration between the two universities, supporting common focus areas in ICT and the strategies of both universities, and demonstrating clear added value by supporting activities that might not take place without this support.

There is no restriction on the number of the proposals the same person can submit within a year, but in the funding decisions, we may also consider the overall balance between research groups or the various fields of ICT (in Helsinki).

In case of FCAI funding, the primary decision criteria is the relevance to the agenda and instruments of FCAI (research programmes, highlights, SIGs, AIX activities).

Decision process

The HIIT funding decisions are made by the HIIT Steering Group, which has meetings once per month. Applications should be submitted at least one week in advance via Webropol.

Funding categories

Below we will list some categories that can often be shown to support the call target described above. However, the open call is not restricted to these categories, but all proposals are welcome as long as they support the mission of HIIT (or FCAI) and benefit the community as widely as possible.

EVENTS – Support for organizing events

  • The target of this funding is to provide support for organizing workshops, conferences, hackathons, bootcamps, summer schools or other events in Finland or abroad. In the application, please explain who is the targeted audience, how you plan to market your event, and how this event will increase the visibility, impact or quality of Helsinki ICT. In marketing, HIIT expects to be acknowledged for sponsoring the event, and can support the marketing efforts via its own channels.
  • The event typically take place in the capital area, but they may also take place abroad, for example, as a satellite workshop of a major conference, but in this case the local applicant needs to be in charge of the organization of the event (e.g, as the organizing chair). HIIT provides typically only partial support (e.g., covering traveling expenses of one or two invited speakers).
  • In addition to financial support, we can also provide help in setting up a “university neutral” web site for the event, if the organizers do not wish to use the default web templates of Aalto or University of Helsinki.
  • HIIT currently does not maintain its own administrative staff, so the practical arrangements need to be handled by the applicants themselves together with their local service organizations.

COLLABORATION – Support for initiating new university-company, cross-university and/or multi-disciplinary scientific collaboration

  • HIIT is willing to support new research initiatives that involve at least two research groups interested in common potentially high-impact research challenges that require collaboration of several research groups. Such collaboration is often multi-disciplinary and cross-university: strengthening collaboration within a single department is not out of the picture, but not our first priority. However, note that the proposals do NOT have to include research groups both from the Aalto and UH CS departments: for example, new collaboration between an Aalto CS professor and another professor at University of Helsinki (not necessarily CS), or perhaps another school in Aalto, makes a good candidate for this funding. Concretely, such an initiative could be, for example, funding for a MSc thesis work supervised by an ICT professor/PI, on a multidisciplinary topic agreed upon with the new potential collaborator (and utilizing their expert knowledge or data).
  • HIIT is also willing to support new research initiatives that involve on the one hand one or several research groups in Aalto University or University of Helsinki and on the other hand one or several companies or public organizations. Please note that it says “university-company” in the headline to be short, but the counterpart can also be public organizations. The objective of these new research initiatives is to explore grounds for further collaboration. Ideally, this would be a seed for planning a new research project, which would seek separate external funding.
  • Visits abroad are generally not supported by this category, unless the visit is directly linked to a concrete project proposal: for example, travel funding related to planning of a new EU project proposal is OK (but the purpose of the trip has to be clearly explained in the application).
  • This category is meant primarily for initiating new collaboration, but we may consider also applications that are needed to keep a high-impact collaboration alive until new funding emerges. In all cases, please include in the application a brief description of your plans to keep the collaboration alive after the end of the HIIT-funded period.

VISIT IN – Support for inviting visitors to Finland

  • HIIT can support visitors on any career stage as long as there is an explanation of how the visit may support HIIT’s mission. In the case of a younger visitor, the motivation might be talent recruitment (e.g., a potential postdoc candidate). In the case of a more senior visitor, the visit might enhance the visibility of our community, and potentially lead to new collaboration opportunities.
  • HIIT can cover the expenses of the visit provided that the following requirements are fulfilled:
    • The visit clearly support HIIT’s mission and the Helsinki ICT community at large
    • The visitor is willing to give a guest lecture either in Otaniemi or in Kumpula, preferably both
    • The visit program is planned and publicly announced well before the visit
    • Any member of the Helsinki ICT community has a possibility to request a meeting with the visitor
    • The inviting host is responsible of all the practical arrangements (including facilitating meetings with other PIs willing to meet the visitor)
  • Note that for exceptionally high-profile visitors, we maintain the Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series coordinated by Prof. Kimmo Kaski. If you think the visitor would fit this category, please indicate it in the application.

VISIT OUT – Support for longer research visits abroad

  • Researcher visits to high-profile universities or other organizations can be beneficial for increasing the visibility, impact or quality of Helsinki ICT, but the expenses of such visits are often quite high, and funding is typically divided among several funding organizations. HIIT will not cover all the travel expenses of such visits, but can be one of the sponsoring organizations.

SHORT-TERM PROJECT WORK

  • When considering supporting short term project work (thesis work, summer internships, seed/bridge funding) preference is given to applications that either support collaboration, or are a good match with at least one of the focus areas of HIIT or the agenda of FCAI, and lead to increased quality, impact and visibility.