FAQ about Skolar Award

Why is Skolar Award only for postdoctoral researchers? Can you apply with arts and humanities research? What can you do with the prize money? Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Skolar Award.


Why is Skolar Award aimed at postdoc researchers only?
In Skolar Award, the term postdoc refers to someone who has completed their doctoral degree no more than five years ago. This limit was chosen because postdoctoral researchers often struggle to find research funding for their ideas. Skolar Award was founded to encourage young postdoc researchers to pursue their brilliant ideas even if they do not yet have an extensive academic track record.

Who profits from Skolar Award?
Skolar Award is a non-profit project hosted by Helsinki-based science communications agency Kaskas Media in collaboration with Slush. Its main beneficiaries are the competitors and research in general. Skolar Award finalists get the opportunity to network outside of their field of research and gain useful communication skills. Skolar Award’s societal impact comes from the combination of ambitious research, science communication, research funders and startup businesses. The prize money is donated by seven Finnish research foundations.

Why is the pitching competition organised at the startup event Slush ?
All groundbreaking innovations are rooted in research. If we want to solve the wicked problems of our time, new ideas and interaction between different fields are absolutely necessary. Slush is a great place to make the importance of scientific research visible to the general public as well as business people and the media.

Should the idea be commercially applicable?
Applications that solely aim to develop or test a product will not be accepted into the competition. Skolar Award is looking for new and courageous research ideas that are either basic or applied research. However, commercialisation as a part of the project is not altogether prohibited.

100,000€ is a lot of money for one researcher. Why is the sum not distributed to several research projects?
The sum is large for the purpose of encouraging ambitious ideas and increasing the chances of the project’s success. The aim of the prize is to enable the winner to concentrate on their research instead of worrying about funding. The prize money should be used to implement the winning project, but it can also be used to pay a salary to the research group working on it.

100,000€ is not enough for my research. Should the prize cover the entire project?
Not necessarily. We realise that 100,000€ might not be enough for the whole project in research that involves expensive infrastructure. In such a case, the project will need to find complementary funding from other sources, which is quite common in larger research projects. The Skolar Award alumni have previously been successful in securing further funding for their projects.

Does the winner have some kind of profit responsibility?
No. This means that the project can fail to find results, which is also an essential part of research. The winner’s responsibility is to communicate the advancement of the project on Skolar Award channels as planned together with the Skolar team. No lengthy final reports are required. The Skolar team will help the winner put together a communication plan for their project.

I can’t possibly present my idea in 3 minutes. Why should I participate?
Give it a try! The finalists will get personal coaching and go through a research communication bootcamp, in which every idea will be turned into an interesting and informative 3 minute pitch. Good communication skills will also benefit you later on in your career. Many of our previous finalists have stated that pitching skills have helped them when applying for other grants or when giving presentations at conferences.

I’m nervous about public speaking, should I still participate?
Yes! The finalists will not be pushed onto the stage without practice. Every finalist will receive public speaking training, both individually and with other competitors. Before the final at Slush, the finalists will get to practise their pitches several times and also in front of an audience in the dress rehearsal.

Can researchers in arts and humanities apply?
Absolutely. Humanistic and artistic research ideas can be just as groundbreaking as in any other field of research and we think it is very important to bring attention to them. Also, the Slush stage is an excellent opportunity to bring arts and humanities research and thinking to the startup world. The pitches will help spread the research to new audiences and can even encourage collaboration between humanities and other industries.