Year 2022 in Kone Foundation

Year 2022 in Kone Foundation

Welcome to our annual report for 2022! On this page, you can find the highlights of our year and dive deeper into our activities. You can find the print version as a PDF here.

Hanna Nurminen: Forest Philosophies

Kone Foundation has a long history of supporting free art and research. We will continue to do this, but we also intend to launch a new fixed-term activity: Kone Foundation will turn its gaze towards the forest, writes Hanna Nurminen, Chairperson of Kone Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

For three years, the pandemic that swept across the world captured our attention. Then Russia brutally invaded Ukraine, and the disastrous consequences of the war and the risk of its escalation required great attention and effort. At the same time, too little attention was paid to measures to slow down climate change and combat loss of biodiversity.

Kone Foundation has a long history of supporting humanities, social sciences, artistic and environmental research, artistic work and also work that combines multidisciplinary research and art. Free art and research are at the core of our work, and we do not predetermine what kinds of results the research or artistic work we fund will potentially produce. However, to complement the open call for applications, we have regularly organised various thematic calls focusing on current topics. We will continue to do this, but we also intend to launch a new fixed-term activity: Kone Foundation will turn its gaze towards the forest.

I think most Finns have fond childhood memories of forests: picking berries or mushrooms, climbing trees, listening to the cuckoo’s call and catching the scents of marsh. I myself vividly remember the moment when, for the first time ever, I consciously understood the beauty of nature. I was skiing by myself in the nearby forest of my home and stopped to breathe in the fresh frosty air and admire the rays of light the spring sun cast on the snow from between the tree trunks. I stood there marvelling at the sparkles of light on the frosty birch branches and the snow-covered pine trees. The reality for adults is different: the forest is a commodity to be monetised, green gold, carbon storage. It is an old-growth forest, a young commercial forest or a clear-cut area. 

The forest can be a site for recreation for a knowledge worker, a source of inspiration for an artist, and it is a source of livelihood for a forest harvester operator. The forest is fascinating and something we debate over. Whatever the topic brings up for you, forests play a crucial role in the processes of combatting both climate change and biodiversity loss. In 2023, Kone Foundation plans to launch a forest network. The aim of this network is to bring together people and organisations that are interested in the forest, bring new voices and perspectives to the forest debate, and thus increase understanding of the significance of the forest for people, society and life on earth. We will invite, for example, researchers, artists, journalists and activists to join the network. Our expectations are high.

The starting point of Kone Foundation’s investment activities is to secure its revenue and capital in such a way that the operations pursuant to the Foundation’s by-laws remain stable now and in the future. In its capacity as an owner and investor, the Foundation seeks to promote ecologically and socially sustainable business activities in compliance with the principles of good corporate governance. After a break of a few years, the Foundation has, in accordance with the existing shareholder agreement, nominated its candidate, Marcela Manubens, for the Board of Directors of Kone Corporation. Kone Corporation’s Annual General Meeting 2023 elected Manubens, who has focused on the issues of ecologically sustainable and socially just business throughout her career, as a member of Kone Corporation’s Board of Directors.

During the reporting year, Kone Foundation’s management system was reformed and the position of chief executive officer was established for the Foundation. Based on the Foundations Act, the division of authority between the Board of Directors and the CEO establishes clearer boundaries for the responsibilities of the Board members, and with the reform, the Board’s role as a strategic pathfinder has become clearer and its work even more focused. Correspondingly, the Foundation’s operative management and entire staff, led by CEO Ulla Tuomarla, can focus on implementing the strategy in the best possible way. I want to say a warm thank you to Kone Foundation’s management and personnel for the work they have done over the past year.

Ulla Tuomarla: Uplifting Encounters

Dare I even say it out loud that I think we have had a pretty good year in our work community? Of course, not everything went according to plan and everything we did could not be foreseen. Recent events have taught us that change is constant, Ulla Tuomarla, CEO of Kone Foundation.

We are living in a time in which the narrative of working life has been shown in a negative light in the media; the frantic rhythm of work and the intrusion of electronic communications into leisure time cause ever-expanding and deepening burnout. Then there are all the other things that cause us anxiety, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine – not to mention the rapid loss of species and climate change – that overshadow our lives in these challenging times.

Dare I even say it out loud that despite all of this, I think we have had a pretty good year in our work community?

Of course, not everything went according to plan and everything we did could not be foreseen. Recent events have taught us that change is constant. 

In February, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we tried, within the framework of the Foundation’s rules, to find ways to help the researchers and artists fleeing the war. We found many ways to help those coming to Finland in this situation: among other things, we were involved in establishing an international network of artists’ emergency residencies (Ukraine Solidarity Residencies), we granted additional funding to the Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki and the Scholars at Risk programme of the University of Turku, and we assisted Ukrainian language club activities to support refugees in their effort to learn Finnish.

In the spring of 2022, we announced our funding to five universities as part of the Finnish Government’s matching funding campaign. The funding was targeted at the arts and humanities field of education, and we especially hope that it will benefit art research disciplines and artistic research, as we believe that these fields are in a dire position nationwide and in need of special support.

In the annual autumn grant call, the total number of applications remained at the same level as in previous years, but the amount of euros applied for the arts have clearly increased in all fields of art in recent years. The pandemic has obviously affected the number of applications and working conditions in the performing arts and music sector, but we have also observed a steady increase in applications for visual arts and literature, which have not been affected as directly by the restrictions in force during the pandemic. In terms of the number of applications, visual arts have had the largest profile within the arts for years, and the fact that the number of applications in this field has doubled over the past three years surely says something about its situation. 

The last part of the reform of the Foundation’s organisational structure was completed when the Foundation switched to the CEO model as of 1 July 2022. The author of this text was appointed to the post. In contrast to the previous position of Executive Director, the CEO’s job description includes, for example, membership of the Investment Committee and a more active role in public affairs.

The long-term renovation at the Saari Residence was completed, and the personnel have finally been able to return from the temporary facilities to the main building. At the end of the year, Saari Residence was awarded the EcoCompass certificate. In the summer, the Mynä-Mynä-Maa art project in a building due for demolition involved a large number of locals and became a popular local attraction, attracting 10,000 visitors.

As the coronavirus restrictions have eased, we have sought to enable encounters and have nurtured a sense of community in our own work environment, as well as with grantees and other stakeholders. One of the highlights of 2022 was the big summer party we organised on the island of Lonna in Helsinki. After all the isolation and online meetings, it felt great to meet people face to face at the party. For many, social encounters are the best part of working life – this is what COVID-19 has taught us.


Illustrations: Marika Maijala

Our vision

Free research, art and culture flourish in an ecologically sustainable and socially equal Finland.

They are valuable in themselves and constantly challenge prevailing perceptions.

Research findings nourish public debate and support decision-making.

Kone Foundation is a vigilant, bold and flexible organisation that cares about its grantees and works towards building a healthy work community.

Our values

Academic and artistic freedom

Ecosocial awareness




Sense of community

Read our strategy for 2021–2025

Kone Foundation’s grant activities in 2022

Kone Foundation awarded grants, prizes and donations totalling over EUR 48 million.

  • In 2022, Kone Foundation awarded grants, prizes and donations totalling over EUR 48 million. The total sum includes the following:
    • The general grant call, EUR 38,604,380
    • Thematic grant call 2022: The current state and challenges of Finnish democracy, EUR 3,902,900
    • Saari Residence grants, EUR 234,403
    • Awards, donations and other grants, EUR 5,313,350.
  • The autumn grant call attracted 6,153 applications of which 335, 4.3% of the overall amount, were awarded grants. The award rate was 7.5% for research and 4.3% for the arts, calculated from the total number of applications.
  • We supported researchers and artists fleeing the war in Ukraine with work grants and residencies. The board of the foundation granted additional grants totaling EUR 396,900 to respond to the human suffering and distress caused by the war.
  • We donated to Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of the Arts and the University of Turku a total of EUR 4.5 million in humanities education fields in order to secure the diversity of disciplines and the freedom of research in fields affected by funding cuts and prioritization of education policy.
  • Sonja Miettinen won the EUR 25,000 Vuoden Tiedekynä Academic Writing Award for a social sciences research article titled, “Opportunities for an Adult with Intellectual Disability to Experience Togetherness – Ethnographic Research on Social Interaction in Finnish Group Homes”.

Supporting Research and the Arts: highlights of 2022

In 2022, Kone Foundation distributed significant funding to research and the arts, totalling EUR 48,055,033. The Foundation mainly allocates its funding for academic research and/or artistic work, paid in these cases as personal grants. Additionally, the Foundation reimburses other costs incurred during research and art projects. In addition to financial support, Kone Foundation organises Grants+ services for grant recipients, which in 2022 included webinars and training, as well as facilities in Helsinki. The Foundation’s staff is responsible for continuously advising the hundreds of researchers, artists and cultural creators who receive funding, as well as organising their payments and processing project changes and reports.

The Foundation’s most important form of support is the annual grant call, which was organised in September. At the same time, a thematic call was organised focusing on the current state and challenges of Finnish democracy. The research supported by the Foundation through the general grant call may focus on the humanities, the arts, the social sciences or environmental research, or it may be multidisciplinary research relating to the above-mentioned sectors. In arts, the Foundation supports projects in all fields.

A total of 6,395 applications were received in the 2022 general call. Based on the proposals of the peer evaluators, the Board of Trustees decided to grant funding to a total of 357 of them, totalling EUR 42,507,280. A total of 335 grants were awarded to new research and art projects, totalling EUR 38,604,380, while 22 grants were awarded in the themed application round, totalling EUR 3,902,900. In the general call, the award rate was 7.6% for research and 4.0% for the arts, calculated from the total number of applications.

Russia’s war against Ukraine shocked the entire Foundation and also affected its grant activities. In the spring, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees awarded additional funding through the University of Helsinki’s Collegium for Advanced Studies and the University of Turku’s Institute for Advanced Studies to fleeing Ukrainian researchers or Russian researchers fleeing Russia, as well as additional funding for research projects funded by the Foundation. Additional funding was granted to artists at both the Saari Residence and Lauttasaari Manor Residence and to the Ukraine Solidarity Residencies programme. In addition, the Foundation awarded the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare a grant for a language club for Ukrainian refugees. The Foundation granted a total of EUR 782,350 in war-related support.

In addition, the Foundation supported Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of the Arts Helsinki and the University of Turku with a total of EUR 4,500,000; these donations were allocated to the field of humanities or the arts. The donations were part of a matching funding campaign, which involves the state donating an amount of funding to universities that is based on the donations they have received from private funders.Kone Foundation’s Vuoden Tiedekynä (Academic Writing Award) award is presented annually for academic articles that demonstrate exemplary use of the Finnish language. Totalling EUR 25,000, it is one of the largest prizes for academic writing in Finland. In 2022, Sonja Miettinen won the award with her article Syvästi kehitysvammaisen aikuisen mahdollisuudet yhteisyyden kokemiseen – Etnografinen tutkimus sosiaalisesta vuorovaikutuksesta suomalaisissa ryhmäkodeissa (Opportunities for an Adult with Intellectual Disability to Experience Togetherness – Ethnographic Research on Social Interaction in Finnish Group Homes), which was published in issue 85 of the Yhteiskuntapolitiikka magazine in 2020.

Vuoden Tiedekynä academic writing award 2022, wants to make hanging out part of the work of care homes

Sonja Miettinen, who has carried out in-depth research on the social interaction of people with profound intellectual disability in group homes, found that care workers lack permission from the organisation’s management to be present with the people they are caring for. Miettinen’s article, which is based on her ethnographic research, has won the Vuoden Tiedekynä award worth EUR 25,000 for outstanding academic writing in Finnish. After getting stuck in her writing process, the researcher began to make progress again when she decided to change the language from English to her mother tongue, Finnish.

The Saari Residence in 2022

The Saari Residence’s activities developed towards a more sustainable approach keeping both the past and the future in mind.

A Sustainable Future through Change: highlights of 2022

In 2022, the Saari Residence invested in ecological residence activities: we encourage residents to reflect on their relationship with sustainable lifestyles, diversity, the climate crisis and other species. A new operating model was created for individual residencies, which emphasises the special features of different seasons and strengthens the importance of local nature in Saari as part of the residency experience.

The creation of the EcoCompass environmental management system culminated in the Saari Residence being awarded the EcoCompass certificate in December. In the Saari Residence’s new pasture area, the species mapping project of the University of Turku’s Department of Biology continued, and a multi-year collaboration was started with Aalto University’s degree programme in landscape architecture in order to strengthen biodiversity in the Saari Residence’s grounds. Cooperation within the NAARCA network of northern residencies continued, and the emphasis on ecology was also reflected in the Saari Residence’s Reviving the Wild podcast series.

We received 580 applications in the residency application round from a total of 72 countries. 507 applications were submitted for individual residencies, of which 56 were working partners as well as 73 applications for group residencies. Residency was granted to 27 individual artists and ten artistic working groups for 2023.

The war in Ukraine gave rise to the Ukraine Solidarity Residencies network, a network  co-funded by the Saari Residence that offers residencies for Ukrainian artists fleeing the war. From March to July, jazz singer Mari Zhiginas worked at the Saari Residence and artist Katya Lesiv from May to August.

Following the completion of the renovations of the main manor building and the Jacob’s Barn events space, we were able to organise events for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Some examples of this are the Nordic Network of Norm-Critical Leadership, who met at Saari in the summer. We were also able to organise a Christmas party for schoolchildren as usual, and the Mix & Mingle meetings at Gallery Titanik in Turku were a new and successful form of cooperation, bringing together artists and local art professionals.

The Mynä-Mynä-Maa community art project, which is located in a building scheduled for demolition in the centre of Mynämäki, was opened to the public in May. The project consists of 42 rooms and 72 works of art and culminated in a total of 255 creators. This successful and ambitious project received plenty of positive feedback and attention: over the summer and autumn, 10,000 visitors found their way to Mynä-Mynä-Maa.

You can also find your way to Mynä-Mynä-Maa virtually below in a 3D model version! The texts are only available in Finnish, but you can still go on a stroll if you want to.

The Saari Residence seeks an ecologically sustainable way of life and believes in the transformative power of art

In 2020, Jaana Eskola was tasked with launching ecologically sustainable residence activities at the Saari Residence. This has meant employing tangible means as well as a strong belief in the transformative power of arts as a catalyst for ecological transition. In this article, Jaana stopped to take a look at what had been accomplished at the residence in the autumn of 2022.

Reviving the Wild podcast series

The Saari Residence aims to be a test platform for a future that is ecologically, socially and mentally sustainable. The Reviving the Wild podcast was born from our aspiration to deepen our understanding of the environment so that we and our resident artists may live more peacefully alongside the natural world and its inhabitants.
For the podcast, we invited experts whose work we appreciate and value to share their thoughts and knowledge with us about the topics we consider urgent and worth discussing. The series is hosted by Miia Laine.

Project Stories

Kone Foundation fosters freedom in research and the arts. What does freedom enable for artists and researchers? What were the projects funded by the Foundation trying to achieve and how, and what was the result? These questions among others are answered in Project Stories, where you get to know projects funded by us more closely.

Birnir Jón Sigurðsson, author and climate activist

During his time at Saari Residence, Birnir Jón Sigurðsson, Icelandic author and climate activist, decided to abandon a project that was close to finished and that was the reason he had applied for the residency. 

Read Project Story

Battles over Birth

Who does childbirth belong to? In the ‘Battles over Birth’ project, the social scientists involved have researched how the answer to this question is changing. The project’s researchers have identified a shift in birth culture, where the opportunity to have a say in your own childbirth is seen as an increasingly important part of good birth care.

Read Project Story

Academy of Moving People and Images 

The Academy of Moving People and Images opens doors to the film industry for people in Finland who have different backgrounds. At the same time, this will result in more diverse offering on the big screen.

Read Project Story

Social media data to support nature conservation

What can a social media-savvy hiker do for nature conservation? An interdisciplinary group of researchers funded by Kone Foundation mined social media channels for insights into what activities people do in nature. Understanding nature lovers helps decision-makers make better decisions for both nature and people.

Read Project Story

Communications in 2022

Kone Foundation’s communications adapted to a world shaped by crises.

Bouncing Back to the New Normal: highlights of 2022

The start of the war in Ukraine meant that we had to provide rapid crisis information concerning the Foundation’s support of Ukrainian researchers and artists, as well as pass on new instructions to grantees whose work was affected by the war. Otherwise, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of communications lay soundly in the digital realm.

We performed the key purpose of our communication – making grantees’ work visible – by launching project pages for our grantees on our website. On a project page, grantees could tell the world about their projects, their work and their results. By the end of the year, there were already 17 pages published. Grantees also continued to write for the At the Well blog: more than 20 blog posts were published during the year.

Project stories were developed as a new way of sharing information about the grantees’ work. In these stories, grantees explain what the artistic and research freedom the Foundation gives them means for their work and the ‘Different Routes’ series of long reads was continued with four articles. With the war in Ukraine, the long article about the Russian information warfare became the most read article in the series.

A new interview concept was used in order to aid communication regarding Sonja Miettinen, the winner of the Vuoden Tiedekynä award for academic writing, which underlined Miettinen describing her own research and the writing process of her article. In May, we announced our funding for art research and artistic research at four universities. The Foundation went through changes and in June, we disclosed that Anna Talasniemi would be leaving the Foundation and that Ulla Tuomarla would be appointed CEO following the Foundation’s switch to the CEO model. 

Also in June, we were able to meet grantees and stakeholders at our big summer party on the island of Lonna in Helsinki for the first time in a very long time. The party featured the Jimi Tenor Band, Aoide and the DJs Renaz and Wekesa. After the celebrations calmed down, we got back to work and in the autumn, we developed the Foundation’s public relations through a series of invite-only lunches hosted by the CEO.

Communications about the grant call and awarded grants followed a familiar and tried-and-tested process. The data studio service that tracks the amount of followers of and the number of visitors to the website and our social media accounts was updated and a monthly internal reporting method was developed for tracking the results, alongside our already in use extensive media monitoring service.

Different Routes story series bringing visibility to 16 science projects

The series of science stories called Different Routes, launched at the end of 2020, reached its third season in 2022. The changing authors focus on research projects funded by the Kone Foundation in the article series produced by editor Tuomo Tamminen. The goal has been to create visibility for projects which the commercial media would not be interested in first. The stories have been published on Kone Foundation’s website and as attachments to the magazine Image.

In the spring of 2022, the page layout of long stories was improved to make it more visually appealing on the foundation’s new website. In addition to the Different Routes series, the update also serves all other article contents of the foundation. Search engine optimisation and advertising was also carried out on the foundation’s Google Ad Grants account, to make the articles easier to find through search engines with related search terms. The goal has been to extend the life cycle of stories: released content does not become outdated in an instant, and it could later become surprisingly relevant for various reasons.

An example of this is an article originally published at the end of 2021, in which researcher Irina Grigor talks about Russia’s long-running information war against Ukraine. With the war in Ukraine, the story became the all-time most read in the series. In total, the article has been read almost 11,000 times on the foundation’s website. In addition, the visibility of the story resulted in researcher Irina Grigori’s interview with Helsingin Sanomat, and the story being listed as one of the main sources in Yle’s extensive essay on information warfare.

The last stories of the third season of Different Routes will be released in spring 2023, after which the series will be on hiatus for the time being – however, the life of the published stories will continue online, and efforts to ease their discoverability will continue to be made.

Anna Talasniemi, long-time Executive Director of Kone Foundation, moved on to new challenges

Anna Talasniemi, who served as the Executive Director of Kone Foundation since 2013, moved on to new challenges. The conclusion of her employment contract followed changes to the Foundation’s leadership structure, with the creation of the new CEO position. Talasniemi started working at Kone Foundation in 2007 as a research secretary, and later she worked as the Foundation’s ombudsman in arts funding.

Kone Foundation’s finances in 2022

As an owner and investor, the Foundation seeks to promote ecologically and socially sustainable businesses in compliance with the principles of good corporate governance.

A Look into 2022

Kone Foundation relies on yields from investments for its operations. The purpose of the Foundation’s investment function is to manage the Foundation’s investment assets so that operations pursuant to the Foundation’s by-laws remain stable now and in the future and is guided by the investment strategy determined by the Board of Trustees, the rules of procedure for investments and the annual investment action plan. The starting point of Kone Foundation’s investment activities and asset management is to secure its revenue and capital, as well as the responsibility of its investments. In its capacity as an owner and investor, the Foundation seeks to promote ecologically and socially sustainable business in compliance with the principles of good corporate governance.

2022 was a challenging year for equity and interest rate markets. The inflation rate prompted several central banks to tighten monetary policy and raise key interest rates at a brisk pace, which had a negative impact on both equities and fixed income investments. The Russian war in Ukraine and its indirect effects further increased the prices of commodities, especially energy, and in Europe, the availability of gas was also a cause for concern. Geopolitical tensions, strict COVID-19 restrictions in China and the disruptions in supply chains and logistics increased the challenges in the investment market. Both equities, whose valuations peaked at the beginning of the year, and fixed income investments fell for well over three quarters of the year before taking a slight upward turn in the autumn. The unusually weak performance of fixed income investments was due to the rapid rise in market interest rates from very low baselines. Inflation has proven to be broader and more persistent than experts initially expected, with the result that interest rates are likely to remain high for longer than expected.

During the year, responsible investments in line with Kone Foundation’s strategy were executed, taking into account factors related to the investment targets’ environment, society and good corporate governance, and investments in assets that specifically aim to promote social or environmental sustainability goals were increased.

Kone Foundation employs a long-term investment horizon. The majority of its investments are in shares. The Foundation’s annual spending is not based on annual revenue, as cyclical fluctuations or market conditions can cause the running yield to vary widely year on year. The Board of Trustees decides the amount of grants to be awarded each year, taking into account both the current income from investment assets in the previous financial year and the latest projections of income, and the Foundation is mindful of future funding needs.

Editor Emma Mileva.

Thank you for reading! You have made it to the end of our annual report.

If you would like to know more about our activities in the past, please have a look at our previous annual reports.

Go to our annual reports page

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