In the general call, you can apply for a grant for 1) PhD research, 2) postdoc research or 3) for the communication and implementation of scientific environmental information. The Foundation emphasises the applications of postdoctoral researchers in research projects. In PhD projects, we emphasise novel proposals in particular. In the application criteria we emphasise the communication and interaction plan.

Each applicant can only submit one application. Funding will not be awarded for a new project if the applicant already has a Nessling project currently in progress.

Please carefully read through the instructions below and the grant criteria before submitting your application (keep scrolling even though the colour scheme changes). Each year we have to reject applications that are inadequate or do not comply with our instructions.

The research grant can be awarded for several years at a time for the same project: a maximum of four years for PhD research (from the 2017 application process onward) and a maximum of two years for postdoc research. NB! Grants will be awarded for the entire grant period but we require annual reports on the project.

Grants are not awarded for finalizing PhD or other research projects.


To make an application, you have to log in to the E-Nessi system, which you can register for on the first time of use. Through E-Nessi, you can also submit payment requests for funded projects, track the payment information of your projects, update your contact information and report project results. Before you can open the application form, you will need to complete an “application test” to ensure that you have read and understood the Foundation’s criteria and guidelines.   

To make a new application, click on Make an application. Please note that E-Nessi considers the person making the application to be the project leader, so the project leader must first register as a user. On the “Make an application” screen you are to select the General call option. If you are applying for continued funding for a project that is already underway (projects started before autumn 2017), you can copy the project information from the old application under Copy information from an old application. The desired old application can be chosen from the menu.

A copied application must be thoroughly reviewed and all required fields updated. If you are using an old application’s attachments (e.g. publications or CV), first save the attachments to your own computer, then update them and attach them to the new application. The commitment of the research site must be obtained separately for each year.

An application always gets a new project number, and you can modify an unfinished application through the main page. When making an application, fill in or select the information required in the fields on all screens and save the information each screen at a time. Saving each screen is important to avoid losing information if the session is interrupted, for example.

Text can also be copy/pasted into the fields. You can print the application by clicking on View printable form (PDF icon).

You can delete an unsent application on the main page by clicking the trashcan icon on the right-hand side of the application.


Who can apply for a grant?

  • Research grants

Research grants are only awarded to researchers who have completed a graduate or doctoral degree.

The applicant of the research grant is the grant recipient him/herself.

Doctoral students doing PhD projects must have graduated (master’s degree or equivalent) and their acceptance into a doctoral program must have been confirmed before the commencement of the grant payment.

A postdoc researcher must have their PhD degree certificate by the time payment commences. An applicant must have completed their doctoral thesis no more than 5 years ago, excluding possible parental leave, extended sick leave or military service. The Foundation will only fund a postdoctoral researcher for one period i.e. a maximum of two years.

The research grant can also be used at a non-Finnish institution. At the Nessling Foundation, the mobility of researchers is a plus.

  • Other grants

If the grant is applied for other purposes than a research project (communication or implementation of research findings), a private person, community or organization can act as the applicant and the criteria are applied to the extent possible.


The supervisors of a PhD project must be mentioned in the application. Supervisors will receive an email requesting them to send a letter of recommendation. The recommendation of PhD supervisors is mandatory. The recommendation is to be submitted by the latest two weeks after the application deadline.

In projects other than PhD projects it is not necessary to name the project supervisor.


The project title should be formulated in an easily understandable manner and it should incorporate all possible subprojects. The title must be provided in both English and Finnish. 


The project’s field is selected from the following:

1. Natural sciences

- Atmospheric research
- Water environment research
- Terrestrial and soil ecosystem research

2. Research and development in environmental technology

3. Social sciences

- Environmental economics
- Environmental law
- Environmental politics
- Other suitable disciplines

4. Communication of scientific environmental information

- Environmental conferences and meetings
- Events, publications and other activities that further the transfer of research findings to society for solutions and as support for decision-making.

5. Other


The aims are to be described concisely and in an easily understandable manner. The Nessling Foundation will use the description for dissemination purposes when necessary.


In this section, you are to describe which environmental problem the project will tackle, how the project will further the solution of said problem and what the societal relevance of the project’s results is.

NB! The Nessling Foundation pays special attention to this section when making funding decisions.

Communication and interaction plan 

The impact of environmental research improves when researchers actively communicate about their subject and collaborate closely with the knowledge users throughout the entire research process.

Transmitting research findings to society is part of the job of a researcher who conducts research that promotes environmental protection.

There are many ways of collaborating with stakeholders: workshops, trainings, school visits, bilateral meetings (e.g. with landowners, NGOs, companies, decision makers or officials), or perhaps campaigning at a street event. There are as many means as there are research topics. The most important thing is that you identify the key stakeholders for your research.

The communication and interaction plan section of the application should describe which parties or stakeholders are key to the project and what means are used for interaction. How is the project communicated about during the project and as the results come through, and what kind of means are used for communication? If desired, the communication and interaction plan can also be made as a separate attachment, which is explained in the section.

Useful advice for identifying stakeholders and making the communication and interaction plan can be found in the Biodiversa stakeholder engagement handbook. You may also find the following graphs helpful for identifying stakeholders and choosing the right communication methods:


Collaboration with stakeholders is close and continuous. Workshops, collaborative writing, regular discussions.

Involving is similar to collaboration, but stakeholders have less time to be involved in it, so cooperation is less regular. 

Consulting means that knowledge and views are exchanged in bilateral meetings, for example, on a point-by-point basis.

Informing means unidirectional interaction through newsletters or traditional media, for example.



Also take a look at a great summary on science communication written by Kaskas Media: “5 tips for making knowledge have an impact” (in Finnish).

The Foundation may ask grant recipients to communicate the progress and results of their research in collaboration with the Nessling Foundation.




Personal grants are meant for full-time work.

A personal grant can only be paid to the project’s main applicant, not to auxiliary personnel. The grant is awarded to the applicant personally and it cannot be transferred to another person.

A personal grant is not paid to a researcher who earns a salary from a full-time position or duty, nor during parental leave or military service. The grant will also not be paid simultaneously with sickness allowance.

The size of a personal grant in 2017 call  is 24,000 euros for a PhD researcher, or 2,000 euros a month, and 28,000 euros for a postdoctoral researcher, or 2,333 euros a month.

The grant recipient’s statutory insurance premiums have to be paid from the grant sum.


Auxiliary personnel mainly mean research assistants. When calculating the cost of auxiliary personnel, statutory social security, pension and insurance premiums must be taken into account.

The Foundation grants funding for hiring auxiliary personnel only for specifically justified reasons and only alongside a personal grant.


The purpose and object of funds sought for travel, consumables, analytical services and equipment must always be precisely clarified. Daily travel allowance cannot be paid from the travel expense funds. Funding for research expenses is only awarded alongside a personal grant. When drafting a budget for a multi-year project, annual variations and moderation must be considered.

NB! Without a detailed breakdown of costs, other expenses will not be taken into account when awarding the grant.


The Foundation can pay an overhead expense if the research site so requires. The overhead expense is to be calculated in its own section, and it must not be more than 15 percent of the project’s other expenses than the personal grant.

For example: If you are applying for 24,000 euros for a personal grant and 5,000 euros for other expenses (such as travel and materials), and the overhead expense required by the research site is 10 percent, the amount of the overhead expense is then 500 euros.


All research funding received from elsewhere for the same research topic and all pending applications must be reported, as well as any other noteworthy research funding received in recent years.


If applying for a grant for the communication or implementation of research findings, the budget is to be drafted using the previous guidelines as appropriate.


If funding is sought for the organization of the scientific programme of a conference or meeting, the following information is to be provided in the section:

The name, subject, purpose and target group of the event, the event location, time and organizer, the composition of the organizing committee, the estimated number of foreign and domestic participants, the draft programme, an estimate of revenue and expenditure and details of other potential funders.

In addition, it is necessary to indicate what expenses the funding sought from the Nessling Foundation will be used for. The project plans of regularly organized events are to contain new and innovative elements compared to previous occasions.

If funding is sought for attending a conference or meeting, an explanation of the applicant’s own attendance must be included in addition to the conference information, for example, by presenting the title and abstract of a presentation or poster. Participation in conferences is supported mainly in such cases where the work presented is related to research previously funded by the Nessling Foundation.


The progress report is filled in only when applying for funding for a follow-up project. Special attention is paid to the report when deciding over continuation funding. For a PhD project, a report is to be given both on the progress of the PhD research and studies.


Attachments are to be submitted in PDF format. Large attachments should be avoided, for example, colour photographs or other images should be used with consideration.

Research/ Project plan

The information provided in the research/project plan is used as the main basis for funding decisions. The plan can be a maximum of two pages long, excluding references (line spacing 1 and font size at least 10). It is to include the background, aims, methods and execution of the research, links to other research projects, the goals of researcher training and a financial plan.

If you are applying for some other project than for a research project please explain in two pages the background, aims, methods and execution of the project as well as the financial plan. 

In the financial plan, you are to justify the sums sought for different purposes and present the total funding of the project, which includes other potential funders.

The research/project plan can be written in either English or Finnish.

CV and list of publications

Lists are titled using the person’s name. The CV and list of publications can be in either English or Finnish.


If applying for funding for a PhD project, a separate progress plan of the PhD work must be attached to the application. The maximum length of the plan is two pages and it is to describe the content and structure of the thesis, the progress of studies, a publication plan, work schedule and a realistic estimated completion time. We will commit to funding a thesis for a maximum of 4 years (a new commencing project) or a minimum of 2 years (the project is less than halfway). We do not fund the finalization of theses. The thesis plan must correspond to the duration of the grant that is sought.

NB! In conjunction with annual reporting (a precondition for the continuation of funding), you are to describe the progress of the thesis and studies compared to the previous year, accompanied with a statement by the supervisor.


If you wish, you may attach up to two of the research group’s publications related to the subject. They are titled using the title of the publication.

Commitment of foreign research partner

A written commitment/commitments by foreign partners mentioned in the application should be attached to the application.

Applicant and project site commitment

You can print the obligatory commitment of the research site by clicking Print commitment (PDF icon) in the attachment page. The commitment has to be signed by the project leader and by an official representative of the research site. This must be done also yearly for continued projects. The signed commitment must be sent  as a scanned attachment in appendices.

Sending the application 

Electronic applications, along with their attachments, must be sent to the Nessling Foundation by clicking the Send button by 16:00 on the deadline, which in 2017 is Friday 15.9. The application can no longer be edited after it is submitted. You will receive a confirmation that the application has been received immediately after sending.



The Nessling Foundation will submit the applications for evaluation by a multidisciplinary committee of experts, whose members represent the research fields emphasised by the Foundation.

The applications are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Solution-orientation and societal relevance of the research results
  • Scientific quality of the research and research group
  • Innovativeness of the research
  • Collaboration with other researchers/research groups/organizations
  • Communication of the research and interaction with stakeholders (especially with the knowledge users)
  • Educational environment (if the grant is sought for a PhD project).

The Foundation’s governing board will make the decision over the distribution of grants based on the expert committee’s statement. The funding decisions of the autumn application process are always announced in November on the Nessling Foundation’s website, and the grant recipients will also be informed by mail.

The foundation does not provide written feedback on applications, but justifications for decisions can be inquired by telephone from the head of research.

Read how funded projects are selected on our blog.