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Turku Intersectoral Excellence Scheme (TIES): Perspective from a funder, Dr. Martin Cloonan, Director of the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS) 

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Photo of Martin Cloonan at left. Blue background with white text: The Turku Intersectoral Excellence Scheme (TIES): Perspective from a funder Martin Cloonan, Director of the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS)

Preface: We were recently introduced to Dr. Martin Cloonan, Director of the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS), to talk about an exciting, new interdisciplinary fellowship program.

Could you briefly share your career story and what you like most about working in your role?

My career path has been rather unconventional. I’m from the U.K. and started as a mature student in Politics, did a PhD on censorship and music, worked in adult education, then in Music and ended up moving to Finland to become the Director of TIAS. As Director of an Institute for Advanced Studies, I get to work with a lot of excellent researchers and help them to develop their research and careers. What’s not to like?! My background helps me to thrive in the sort of interdisciplinary environment which Institutes for Advanced Studies promote. 

Tell us about the Turku Intersectoral Excellence Scheme. When did this fellowship program get started?

The programme will be advertised on 15 November, with a closing date for applications of January 9, 2023. The first Fellows are due to begin on September 1, 2023, for a three-year period.

Tell us more about the goals of this initiative?

The Turku Intersectoral Excellence Scheme (TIES) has been designed to do exactly what is says on the tin! We aim to promote excellent Intersectoral working through close working with our Fellows, our partners and a range of other stakeholders. TIES Fellows will be required to spend between two and six months working on secondment to an organisation external to higher education, detailing plans for this as part of their application. We therefore aim to promote excellent research within and beyond academia. TIES was designed by Dr. Georges Kazan in consultation with me. Georges’ background in business and working outside of academia provided the foundation for this pioneering programme. 

Georges Kazan’s concept in developing this was to:  

1.     enhance excellence within the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) model by extending its horizons, creating a thinking space that transcends not only academic disciplines but also academia itself, by engaging with other sectors of society. 

2.     strengthen and deliver fresh added value by applying the IAS model to help defragment, diversify and internationalise Finnish, Nordic and European Research and Innovation. 

What are the requirements and/or restrictions for applicants to consider?

TIES Fellows must have obtained a PhD no more than eight years ago. They must present an excellent research proposal and be committed to both Intersectoral and interdisciplinary work. As TIES is funded by the EU, they must also meet its mobility requirement of having spent no more than 12 of the 36 months preceding the commencement of the Fellowship in the host country, in this case Finland.

How many TIES fellowships are distributed annually and in what amount?

We have 8 positions on offer over a two-year period. The EU will allow us to make these appointments as we see fit, so it could be 4 and 4, 5 and 3, etc. All appointments all for three years.

What types of applicants are you looking to fund and in what disciplines?

TIAS covers Economics, Education, Humanities, Law and Social Sciences. We want to recruit internationally excellent researchers who are committed to both Intersectoral and interdisciplinary work. We particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups and from beyond the global north.

In your opinion, what makes a strong application?

An excellent research proposal with a strong commitment to Intersectoral and interdisciplinary working. Applicants should be committed to working with colleagues in the University of Turku. We provide detailed information for candidates, and this should be followed very closely.

Many of the researchers that we speak with are interested to know about “success rates of particular funding opportunities” – what do you think about this measure in your line of work?

TIAS has an excellent record of helping people develop their research careers. Around a third of our alumni are currently professors or associate professors. We believe that the TIES programme will promote research careers within and beyond academia. A key part of this will be the mentoring programme within TIAS. This includes a unique Visting Professor of Mentoring, who is Professor Ulrika Maude of the University of Bristol. The fact that TIES incorporates a secondment to an organisation external to higher education means that it will also promote research careers beyond academia. So, we wish to promote a range of career options and believe that successful applicants will seize the opportunities that this provides.

Any final recommendations for prospective applicants?

Applicants can find more information on our website.

There will be an online information session for candidates on Wednesday 7 December at 14.00 (EET) where I will introduce the programme and take questions. 

Candidates can also send questions to our dedicated TIES,

We look forward to hearing from them! 


Thank you, Martin, for sharing your funder’s perspective with us!

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