Funding in the 2023 general grant call

Funding in the 2023 general grant call

Kone Foundation’s mission is to make the world a better place by creating conditions for free and multi-voiced research and art. Our core operations include funding the work of researchers and artists, and the majority of the funding is awarded though our annual general grant call. What are the projects that received funding in 2023?

Kone Foundation funds academic research in the humanities, social sciences and environmental sciences, and artistic research and professional artistic work in all fields of art.

In the 2023 general grant call, the Foundation received a record 6,684 applications, of which 350 projects received funding. In total, more than €44 million was awarded. It is a record amount for our general grant call.

In terms of euros, the majority of Kone Foundation funding is given to research projects. In this year’s general grant call, the share was over 59%. Art projects received 25% of the euros granted.

Kone Foundation encourages collaboration between researchers and artists. Nearly every sixth project was a combination of research and art.

Although, in terms of euros, funding for the arts is smaller than research funding, quantitatively, there were more art projects than research projects this year. On average, arts grants are smaller than research grants because arts grants are more often intended for one person. Art projects are also shorter in duration.

Funding in the category “Other cultural work” is very marginal. This year, funding was only granted for two projects.

Obtaining funding is not easy. In terms of the number of applications, 5.2% of projects received funding this year. In terms of the amount of euros requested, 6.6% of the funding applied for was granted. For several years now, Kone Foundation’s award rates have followed a similar trend.

Of all the disciplines that Kone Foundation funds, social sciences and humanities received the most funding. The total funding for all fields of art was almost as high as the funding for social sciences or humanities. Environmental sciences came next, followed by artistic research.

Most of the grants awarded by Kone Foundation are of multi-year duration. The longest grant are awarded for four years. In this way, we want to support long-term, focused work.

See more statistics on Kone Foundation funding in 2023 here (opens in a new tab)

“Through long-term funding, we want to foster the belief that engaging in research and the arts is valuable, worthwhile and indeed possible in these times,” says Ulla Tuomarla, the Foundation’s CEO.

Who evaluates the applications?

The applications sent in for the general grant call are reviewed by annually changing peer reviewers who are practitioners in the fields supported by the Foundation. The peer reviewers conduct the evaluation independently, and typically, each application is assessed by only one person.

Peer reviewers submit their suggestions for funding to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, which then makes the final funding decisions. The reviewers also provide the Board of Trustees with general summaries of their evaluation work. This year the reviewers again emphasised the high quality of the applications.

“It was a very demanding task, as there were many good applications that deserved funding. I experienced feelings of frustration and distress but also pure joy that there is such a huge amount of high-quality, innovative research thinking in our country.”

Research application reviewer

“All in all, it was eye-opening and hopeful that in Finland, artists are making very sharp-eyed, multi-voiced and bold art, even in such challenging times.”

Reviewer in a field of art

“What was particularly inspiring about the applications as a whole was their creativity. The project plans conveyed researchers’ curiosity and a mix of approaches in such a way that it can be difficult to get funding for it from anywhere else but Kone Foundation. After all, this kind of research always involves a certain degree of risk and uncertainty, while at the same time it can produce significant results for society and progress in research.”

Reviewer in a field of social sciences

The reviewers are anonymous. Based on their proposals, the final selection is made by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, which is also responsible for the decisions.

Read more about the evaluation process (pdf opens in a new tab).

“As Finnish society closes in on itself, many of the researchers and artists funded by the Foundation are looking outwards from Europe to other continents,” says Kalle Korhonen, Director of Funding.

What are the peer reviewers’ suggestions based on?

The funding decisions are guided by the central values defined in the Foundation’s strategy.

Academic and artistic freedom and the intrinsic value of research and art

We see research and art as valuable in and of themselves and not, for example, as means to generate profit.

A plurality of voices

We want different voices to be heard, and we encourage collaboration. In our funding decisions, we emphasise projects and topics that are multidisciplinary and novel and seek to challenge prevailing views.


One of our central values is boldness, which includes experimentation, incompleteness, indeterminacy and a combination of unexpected approaches.

Long term

The Foundation supports work done in peace, and it emphasises multi-year personal grants for academic and artistic work.

Crossing borders, both national and disciplinary

We support transnationalism, which can apply to Finnish grantees working abroad or foreign grantees working in Finland. We encourage our applicants to combine research and art in multidisciplinary projects.

Environmental sustainability

Also in projects not related to environmental issues, we take into account responsibility for the environment, especially in the context of travelling. We encourage you to avoid flying if possible and to favor low-emission travelling.

Read more about Kone Foundation’s focuses in awarding grants (opens in a new tab).

What kind of projects were funded this year?

At the end of this page, you can find a list of all projects that received funding, but here are some thematic highlights that we noticed this year. You can read more about each theme by clicking the + button.

Tapio Nykänen, DSocSc, and working group will explore the possibilities to democratize activism, as well as obstacles to such, in a research project on “strange activism” (€307,400). The team argues that the seemingly strange goals or forms of activism can be associated with a vibrant and inventive political imagination capable of challenging prevailing hierarchies and harmful social models. The aim of this research is to develop a theory of strange activism and to explore what the strange activism of the 2020s tells us about trends in Finnish democracy.

In a sociology project on marginalized activism in the era of hypervisibility (€464,500), researcher Taina Meriluoto and team ask how the demand for presence and the norm of authenticity in social media change the political participation of mental health and queer activists. Because individual- and story-centric social media demands increasingly personal stories from political actors, exposing one’s own life as a resource for political action can create a life-threatening risk for marginalised activists. The researchers focus on what, where, when and why activists reveal themselves, what boundaries and negotiations are involved, and what the consequences are for democracy and for activists themselves.

On the other hand, caring practices are seen as central to improving the quality of life of people of all ages. Eino Heikkilä, PhD, will examine welfare and care networks in community-based senior housing (€104,000). The project will investigate what factors support the well-being of residents and how community-based care is put into practice in senior living communities. An ethnographic study will provide information on the activities and experiences of seniors in their own living environments and from their own perspectives. The educational science project led by Dr. Khalil Gholam will investigate how the pedagogy of care is implemented in Finnish schools (€360,400). The project challenges the dominance of neoliberal policies in education and advocates a pedagogical approach that prioritises ethical consideration of others in school management and practices.

“‘Pönötys’ is a structure of elitism based on a culture of privilege and status. It destroys the seeds of dialogue, constructive encounters and trust,” writes the SID Group. The Finnish term “pönötys” (with no direct translation) refers to a manner of standing about, often to appear official, serious or important. The group’s project on the future of democracy (€100,000) combines research and art. It identifies and challenges forms of pönötys in society and seeks solutions through utopias, or imagined futures. The utopias will be ideated through discussion and participation at public events on the Day of No Pönötys. The SID group is a foresight, change and future-creation community, with a background in the Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku (2004–2011).

In Maiju Tarpila’s project, the long-term processes of LARP – or live-action role-playing – help one imagine the horizons of sustainable life in times of eco-crisis, enabling embodied experiences of living differently. Tarpila, MA (Theatre & Drama), is working on two LARP series focusing on post-fossil-fuel existence: Hurmos (Rapture) and Verso (Sprout) (€64,800). Hurmos explores the process of disengaging from fossil-fuel capitalism and the experience of the sacred that it reveals, while Verso is a four-day LARP about a post-eco-catastrophic monastic community.

D.Soc.Sc. Anna Leppo and working group will explore the knowledge of people with long-term illnesses and their agency and participation in Finnish society (€497,000). The project combining research and art explores the structures and mechanisms of exclusion; it will be led by a researcher and an artist with chronic conditions, together with other chronic patients. The authors will use their analysis to find ways to rehabilitate society’s relationship with those suffering from long-term illness and the disabled and will produce a “rehabilitation programme” for societal structures.

In a history research project, Elina Pyy, PhD, and team (€382,600) delve into the relationship between pain and masculinity in Western art and storytelling. Their project investigates the impact of classical antiquity on verbalisation, depiction and representation of male pain in Western culture: What changes have occurred in the representation of the male suffering over the centuries, and what does this tell us about changing identities and ideals of masculinity?

In the Ruumis ja rauta (Body and Iron) series of exhibitions (€108,000), visual artist Petri Kaverma explores masculinity, death, rituals, our relationship to nature and machines, and environments perceived as masculine by seeking poetic and surprising perspectives in the visuality of worn-out tropes.

Artist Taneli Kemppi (€32,400) will complete an autobiographical graphic novel about childhood, adolescence and adulthood as an overweight person. The main purpose of the work is not to empower but to honestly express the pain caused by the culture of dieting forced into the world of a child.

Artist Kardo Shiwan (€32,400) will work on a dance piece, FUR FUR FUR, which expands the meanings of hair within the framework of post-humanist theory. Siwan will be joined by a group of artists from Finland and Kurdistan to collaborate on the work. The group will create a diverse representation of various people’s relationships to hair and heritage.

The doctoral thesis of dance teacher Riina Hannuksela, MA, focuses on the development of embodied knowledge (€180,000). Hannuksela explores how diverse and marginalised ways of knowing the body are recognised in dance art. This question is explored through an artistic process in which art professionals and dancers without professional training work together. In this research, embodied knowledge is understood as practical knowledge (knowing how), which does not necessarily require a cognitive process or language to be validated.

Author Satu Erra (€32,400) will complete a young-adult novel that explores the desires of an eighteen-year-old heterosexual girl. In the context of the story, desire is both a physical desire and a desire to find a place in a community. The work explores what the head wants, what the heart wants, what the body wants, and what one should dare to want from life and the future. In addition to the novel, Erra is completing a poetic work on the complex interaction between humans and objects.

Professor Eerika Finell, DSocSc, and working group will launch an international research project, FriendMUM, focusing on the development of friendships between mothers of immigrant and Finnish backgrounds (€250,700). The mothers are participating in the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare’s friendship activities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and in North Savo and Karelia. The project aims to promote fundamental research by focusing on the process of developing multicultural friendships from the perspectives of social identity and social-psychological contact. Its goals are to develop means of multimodal interaction that dismantle power relations and to provide tools for municipalities and other actors in family service and integration activities.

Choreographer and dancer Marika Peura will create a dance piece, “dalawang witch”, (working title), meaning “two witches” (€97,000). The work about daughterhood and motherhood features the artist and her Filipina mother. The choreography focuses on intimacy and its embodiment, physical contact, touch, gaze, language and nurturing. How have these elements been present in the mother-daughter relationship? And how can they be wildly redefined in a relationship between two adult women? A central aspect of the work is the question of diaspora and of being caught between two cultures. The project is also an attempt to build a relationship with the community, identity and traditions of Filipino culture.

Photojournalist Kim-Linda Nguyen aims to author and photograph a biographical food book (€45,000) documenting the life story of Nguyen’s mother, who arrived in Finland as a refugee from Vietnam, alongside foundational recipes of Vietnamese cuisine. The book is a visual work that, through text and image, forms a body of work in which Vietnamese recipes are interwoven through the stages of Nguyen’s mother’s life, from her childhood and adolescence in wartime Vietnam through her years in a refugee camp in Hong Kong to her present life in Finland.

Languages around the world have evolved in multilingual contexts. Research project How indigenous languages change: a view from the heritage language perspective (€491,400) by Maria Khachaturyan, PhD, and working group focuses on three languages traditionally spoken in Guinea in West Africa: Mano, Kpelle and Susu. The project addresses the dynamics of contact-induced language change through a study of diasporic indigenous communities as a natural laboratory. It will be the first psycholinguistic study of two indigenous languages, Mano and Kpelle, in the context of linguistic dominance from another indigenous language, Susu.

Led by Professor Leila Koivunen (€298,900), Finnish and Namibian researchers will be brought together to examine the history of Finnish-Namibian knowledge creation between 1870 and 1990. Although Finland never had colonies, the Owambo region in what is now northern Namibia can be considered an interesting site of colonial knowledge formation. In 1870, Finnish Missionary Society workers began working there, and the link was later strengthened by Finnish UN troops and Martti Ahtisaari’s work for Namibian independence. The research project sheds light on Finns’ impact in the history of the Owambo region and builds a more complex understanding of Finns in a colonial world.

Samira Ibnelkaïd, PhD, will write a peer-reviewed academic book on the lived experiences of high-skilled racialised migrants in Finland (€119,800). Through historical, theoretical and empirical resources collected during Ibnelkaïd’s previous postdoctoral position, the book delves into the paradox of Finland, which is both unfailingly ranked happiest country in the world and has the highest rate of racial harassment within the EU. The book offers a deeper understanding of the Finnish colonial past and contemporary relation to “race”, racism and migration. It also provides recommendations for individual, communal and institutional use of digital technologies to empower racialized migrants in shaping their own identities, experiences and trajectories.

The band Ma Rouf will conduct a Sufi-Finnish dialogue project (€128,000) that aims not only to create unique new music but also to act as a bridge between different cultures through music. The project invites Finnish musicians and people belonging to minority groups to create a musical work, together with Ma Rouf, that combines musical styles and forms with the band’s own Sufi-inspired music. The project aims to perform concerts and workshops for schoolchildren in areas where there is a high incidence of hate crime in Finland. The performances and workshops will provide an opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of music, to experience the richness of multicultural music and to discuss the importance of cultural diversity.

Art historian Mia Hannula will work on a collection of essays on intercultural encounters in contemporary art and art journalism (€64,800). The project is based on Hannula’s experiences in art journalism on how to responsibly approach multicultural themes and the work of artists from cultural minorities. A key focus of Hannula’s project is to explore and analyse the ways art can challenge representations that are culturally stereotyping, othering and marginalising. It involves the question of how to create performances that enable intercultural encounters and cultural pluralism. Hannula will also explore the potential to apply ethical journalistic guidelines to cultural journalism more broadly and to art criticism in particular.

Adequate access to water is vital for individuals and societies alike. However, water resources are unevenly distributed both between and within countries. It is estimated that water-related conflicts and effects of drought, such as migration and environmental problems, will continue to increase in the foreseeable future. The project Water Matters: Law and the Political Economy of Thirst by Ukri Soirila, PhD, and working group (€296,400) provides a critical take on the subject, focusing on competing discourses on water and the struggles between and within them. These discourses, combined with power and economic structures, determine how water is conceptualised, how it is spoken and written about, and who ultimately has the power to decide how water is distributed.

MSSc Iuliia Gataulina’s post-doc research project (€217,500) analyses colonial-extractivist practices of water resource management and exploitation through case studies. The degradation of bodies of water associated with mining will be examined in northern Finland, as will extractivist practices in the Aral Sea region of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. The project will also utilise artistic methods. The data collection will be accompanied by the efforts of artist Natalia Batrakova, who will work with local artists in both regions.

Snow is an important part of Finnish and Sámi cultural heritage, but our winter environment is changing at an accelerating pace. Snowy periods are getting shorter, snow cover is thinning and winters without any snow are becoming more common, especially in southern Finland. In this study (€78,800), Inkeri Markkula, PhD, explores the multiple meanings of snow through environmental values, climate grief and interspecies relationships. The results of this research will preserve the memory of snow, highlight the emotional and multispecies dimensions of climate change, and help inform climate policy.

MSc María Paz’s doctoral thesis (€134,600) examines the eco-social impacts of the water-intensive avocado agribusiness in central Chile. Paz examines how the commodification of water resources and the developmental policies implemented in the country have contributed to the emergence of eco-social vulnerabilities. By analysing these issues, Paz will problematise the issues of water resource management and the eco-social grievances experienced by humans and other species.

Kone Foundation’s new initiative Metsän puolella (“On the forest’s side”) aims to enhance understanding of the various meanings of forests and bring new perspectives and approaches to forest discourse. Funding can be sought through an open and year-round call for applications. The Foundation’s board makes funding decisions three times a year. The second round of Metsän puolella grants was announced with the general grant call of 2023.

The largest of the grants will go to PhD Tuomo Takala’s working group for a research project that focuses on the sustainability of forest services (€569,200). According to the group, a key prerequisite for the transition to sustainable use of forests is a shift towards a strong sustainability approach in forest services and forest sector education. Currently, the well-being of nature and the environment is considered subordinate to wood production, but in a strong sustainability paradigm, wood production would be considered subordinate to the consideration of nature and the environment. The aim of the project is to create and implement a new business model for forest services with strong sustainability, along with concrete service products. The goals include studying the skills required for the transition to sustainability and development of necessary multidisciplinary training. The project aims to broaden the Finnish public’s understanding of the purpose of forest services and what forest professionalism can include.

With its grant, Voima magazine (€179,000) will create a model for promoting forest journalism. The project will establish a separate unit within Voima that will produce fact-based, citizen-driven, journalistic information on forest-related scientific knowledge and will act as a meeting platform for different forest-related phenomena. Topics covered include activism; the relationship between politics, economics and values towards nature; the cultural significance of forests; and the relationship of urban lifestyles to forests. It will also serve as a platform for artistic expression and cultural journalism, driven by a strong thematic interest in forests.

The research project led by Timo Harjuniemi, DSocSc, focuses on Finnish forest journalism and publicity (€352,600). Is Finnish journalism on the side of the forest, and whose interests does forest journalism serve? The project looks at the themes and controversies that dominated Finnish forest journalism between 1990 and 2023 and examines whose voices have been heard in forest journalism during this time period.

The documentary theatre project by theatre-maker Elsa Lankinen and working group (€63,100), located in the Kainuu area of Finland, explores the conflict of interests between forestry and other nature values. The idea for the performance was born in 2018, when a mediation process was launched between Metsähallitus (the Finnish Forest Administration) and environmental organisations to prevent the escalation of local forest disputes. The aim of the project is to use documentary theatre, based on interviews, to open up questions of forest policy and the background of forest disputes to a wider community in the “forest province” of Kainuu, where Metsähallitus manages around 42% of the forest area. The regional theme reflects wider issues of resource use and state responsibility in Finland and the world at large.

Visual artist Ulla-Maija Alanen has been photographing the subsurface landscapes of wilderness forest lakes for fifteen years. With the grant (€44,300), Alanen plans to document this time spent underwater in an art book and organise an accompanying exhibition. “My work is an appeal for clean forest lakes. It conveys my gratitude to water,” Alanen writes.

List of all funded projects

See the list below for all the projects that received funding in the general grant call. You can read the summary of each application by clicking on the + button. You can also search by keywords. The project texts are in Finnish or English, depending on the language of the application.

To search all projects funded by Kone Foundation in recent years, please go to this page.

Illustrations: Marika Maijala

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Statistics and listings of grants, prizes and donations awarded in 2023

Kone Foundation’s general grant call attracts a record number of applicants and funding: over €44 million in support awarded for academic and artistic freedom during difficult times