BSN press release no. 65 image 1

Baltic Science Network is a source of inspiration for other networks in the Baltic Sea Region. A second encounter with the Baltic Sea Region Research Network for Societal Security allowed to present the Baltic Science Network in greater detail.

On 27 March 2019, Baltic Science Network was presented to the Baltic Sea Region Research Network for Societal Security (BSR-RNSS) in Warsaw during a meeting hosted by the Main School of Fire Service (SGSP). Zane Šime, Communication & Research Coordinator at the CBSS Secretariat, spoke about the methodology applied by the Baltic Science Network in building a sustainable network. Network-building and its key components was the central topic of the presentation.

Initially, Baltic Science Network and its co-organised conference “The Baltic Sea Region – A Science Powerhouse” in Brussels were outlined to the BSR-RNSS representatives on 2 October 2018 during the BSR-RNSS kick-off meeting held at the CBSS Secretariat. The BSR-RNSS Warsaw workshop was the second encounter between the representatives of two networks interested in various multilateral research topics tailored for the Baltic Sea Region particularities.

Since Baltic Science Network was built by employing a notably diverse set of activities, methodologies for gathering stakeholder input and forms of consultations, it is a valuable example of lessons learnt for other research-oriented networks. Engagement in the BSR-RNSS Warsaw workshop was also a good example how members of the Baltic Science Network are promoting the sustainability of results delivered during a 3-year-long Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme funded project.

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This was a valuable networking occasion prior to the next notable gathering, which will benefit from some insights in the progress achieved by the Baltic Science Network. On 10 April 2019, Klaus von Lepel, Baltic Science Network Project Director, will be speaking during the session “Research infrastructure for innovation” of the Programme Conference 2019 “Let´s talk! about achievements”.
 
 
 

BSN final conference, image 1

Photo credits: Colortime
 

The research and science cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region holds a tremendous potential and interest among a diversity of actors. The Final Conference was a prominent occasion which brought interested stakeholders, key decision-makers and influential thinkers together to debate what is the agreed way forward for the Baltic Science Network, as well as what nuances remain to be tapped into to hone feasible collaborative initiatives.

On 22 February 2019, the University of Latvia hosted the Baltic Science Network Final Conference as part of its centenary celebrations. Baltic Science Network Final Conference took place shortly after the CBSS High Level Meeting on Science. The public gathering was an important milestone not only for the project. It was also one of the components of the Latvian CBSS Presidency.

The attendants of the Baltic Science Network Final Conference were greeted by a group of the heads of delegations of the CBSS High Level Meeting. Dr. Eva Gümbel, Deputy Minister of Science, Research and Equalities of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg paved the way for subsequent presentations by outlining in her welcoming remarks that the CBSS gathering was concluded with an endorsement of the Joint Statement of the High-Level Meeting of the Representatives of the Ministries for Science of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

Valdemaras Razumas, Vice-Minister of Education, Science and Sport of Lithuania, presented the financial commitment to a mobility programme, welcomed more focus on coordinated research policies and encouraged to develop the Baltic Science Network as a sustainable transnational structure. He showed recognition to the research commissioned by the Baltic Science Network by welcoming further work along the lines of a geographical and, most importantly, functional proximity. The two concepts were presented during the Baltic Science Network Tallinn seminar held under the auspices of the Estonian EU Presidency and were revisited in one of the conference´s sessions.

BSN final conference, image 2
Photo credits: Colortime

Anders Ødegaard, Head of Office of the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science, invited the audience to look at the challenges faced by the Baltic Sea Region as a smaller scale example of those issues that the EU is wrestling with. He expressed full support for science as an inseparable component of the collaborative ties in the Baltic Sea Region. He invited to continue exploring how the European context and such major funding schemes as the EU Framework Programme might help to support joint aspirations.

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Photo credits: Colortime

Boris Zhelezov, Deputy Director of the Department of the International Cooperation at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, confirmed the important role of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. He offered some additional insight to the attendants of the meeting about the existing patterns of the collaborative ties in higher education and science. Erasmus+ was among the examples of the already functioning working networks which offer possibilities for further cooperation.

Sebastian Skuza, Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland, recognised the potential of the Baltic Science Network extension phase. Baltic Science Network was praised for showing a good way how to start thinking in a macro-regional way. The potential of transforming Baltic Science Network in a Policy Area or a Horizontal Action of EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was suggested for further consideration.

Three sessions provided a content-rich insight into the intricacies of the state of research collaboration, as well as the key factors which should be strengthened to further advance the scientific excellence and continue efforts launched with the Widening Participation measures in the Baltic Sea Region. Among the presenters was Riitta Mustonen, Director of Development at the University of Turku, who explained in more detail how Baltic Science Network has tailored specific instruments to solve the persistent challenges characterising the researcher mobility in the Baltic Sea Region. Christian Müller, Deputy Secretary General of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), invited to pay attention to the changing patterns of mobility and obtain an expertise in these processes. Outbound mobility trend is steady. Inbound mobility is changing in terms of the countries of origin represented by the students. Regions are developing intra-regional mobility with full appreciation of its convenience in terms of such factors as costs, language, feeling of safety and cultural distances. A lot of future potential is captured by the intra-regional academic mobility. Eneli Kindsiko, Lecturer at the University of Tartu, invited to raise awareness regarding the mobility options not only among the research administrators, but also among the supervisors of students.  

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Photo credits: Colortime

The concluding panel titled “Widening Participation in the European Research Area” offered new insights in the complexity of research collaboration. A certain level of internationally competitive excellence must be combined with a continued implementation of the widening measures, mobility of researchers and teaching staff should not be neglected, as well as streamlining of the application process is sought after, e.g., by vetting applications, application support and continuous provision of seed money for applications.

Josephine Them Parnas, Senior Advisor & Leader of the EU Policy Team of the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education, stressed that one of the key EU successes has been the establishment of a convenient framework with in-built incentives to deliver scientific excellence. An alteration of the incentives´ mechanism would pose a risk of harming the overall EU competitiveness.

Aleksander Dańda, Director of the Department for Science at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland, elaborated that one way how to avoid a negative framing that there is no excellence in the EU-13 would be to rename “sharing excellence” to “widening participation”. Some successful examples have been already shown by the implementation of such measures as Teaming and ERA Chairs.

Attendants of the Baltic Science Network Final Conference were introduced to the most recent findings crafted by the project with an offer of reports “The Baltic Sea Region – A Science Powerhouse” and “Baltic Science Network Learning Experiences”, as well as some other informative items presented by the Baltic Science Network, Baltic TRAM and other actors from the Baltic Sea Region.

  

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Photo credits: Colortime

The conference was concluded with inspiring remarks that the end of the project has unleashed a much more thorough thinking on the multi-level governance characterising the Baltic Sea Region. The multifaceted implications of the thinking spurred by the Baltic Science Network remain to be seen. In the meantime, one of the immediate spin-offs and practical continuations of the Baltic Science Network is the Hanseatic League of Science (HALOS).

 

 

 Press release no 63, image 1Photo credits: Colortime

Baltic Science Network was presented during the high level discussions on research cooperation held under the auspices of the Latvian CBSS Presidency. The project received an appraisal from several CBSS Member States in terms of the progress achieved in raising awareness about the current traits and challenges of research collaboration in the Baltic Sea Region.

On 22 February 2019, the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) with Baltic Science Network organised the High Level Meeting on Science, hosted by the University of Latvia.

The rather recently built Nature House of the Academic Centre of the University of Latvia was a perfect place for forward looking discussions on research cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region.

Baltic Science Network was presented by Dr. Eva Gümbel, Deputy Minister of Science, Research and Equalities of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the attendants of the CBSS High Level Group on Science. She stressed the multi-level governance character as one of the key valuable angles of the Baltic Science Network. Promising science remains underrepresented in the international collaboration. She drew to the attention of the delegates the science potential housed by the Baltic Sea Region, which remains to be better integrated in the cooperative structures.

Press release no 63, image 2Photo credits: Colortime

Among attendants of the High Level Meeting were also Baltic Science Network members, such as the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of Lithuania, the Swedish Research Council, Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme BONUS, Baltic Sea Region University Network, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and others.

The Riga gathering was an occasion to take a look back at the CBSS high level consultations which took place during the Kraków Ministerial held on 16 June 2016 to follow-up on the Chair´s Conclusions “Baltic Science: Renewing the Commitment to Science/Research Joint Actions in the Baltic Sea Region” produced during the Polish CBSS Presidency.  

The mobility tools developed by the Baltic Science Network were among the topics covered by the remarks expressed by the heads of delegations.

The meeting was concluded by an endorsement of the Joint Statement of the High-Level Meeting of the Representatives of the Ministries for Science of the Council of Baltic Sea States which is by an large based on the findings and conclusions drawn during the implementation of Baltic Science Network. 

Press release no 63, image 3Photo credits: Colortime

The closed meeting was followed by the public programme – Baltic Science Network Final Conference on the same day and the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day 2019 on 23 February 2019.

Photo album of the meeting is available here.

 

 

 Baltic Assembly Discusses Baltic Science Network

Photo credits: Erik Peinar

The most recent working level consultations about the progress achieved in the Baltic Science Network implementation were organised under the auspices of the Baltic Assembly and the latest meeting of its Education, Science and Culture Committee in Tallinn.

On 8 February 2019, meeting of the Education, Science and Culture Committee of the Baltic Assembly was held in Tallinn. During the meeting hosted by Riigikogu, members of the Committee jointly with parliamentarians of the Benelux Parliament, governmental representatives of the Baltic Council of Ministers and representatives of the Nordic Council discussed among other topics joint science and research projects of the Baltic States in the context of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 - 2017. Plans for further development of Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme funded project “Baltic Science Network”, the possibilities for projects in the Baltic Research Programme funded under the European Economic Area Grants (2014-2021), the future of joint Baltic Sea research and development programme BONUS and others were presented by the representatives from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Photo credits: Erik Peinar

Photo credits: Erik Peinar

These consultations took place in the context of an earlier guidance issued to the Baltic Science Network members in the Baltic States during the 23rd session of the Baltic Assembly and 23rd Baltic Council held on 9-10 November 2017 in Tallinn.

Likewise, the most recent meeting of the Education, Science and Culture Committee of the Baltic Assembly was organised shortly before the CBSS High Level Meeting on Science, the Baltic Science Network Final Conference and the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day 2019, which will be hosted by the University of Latvia on 22 – 23 February 2019 on the occasion of its centenary celebrations.

Photo album of the meeting is available on the website of Riigikogu.

 

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The last working level meeting of the Baltic Science Network was held in Oslo. During two intensive days the participants were dwelling into the details of the subsequent joint activities and the programme of the upcoming gathering in Riga.

On 16 – 17 January 2019, Baltic Science Network (BSN) held its concluding Steering Committee and Partner meeting in Oslo, the European Green Capital 2019. This was the last working level meeting before the high level discussions to be held in Riga during the CBSS meeting on Science, BSN Final Conference and the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day 2019 next month.

BSN discussed in-depth the recently published Working Paper from the expert group on photon and neutron science, the roadmap for research infrastructures and the BSN selected mobility tools.

The second part of the meeting was dedicated to the overview of the project implementation. Major events and milestones were presented by Klaus von Lepel, the Baltic Science Network Project Director. BSN Tallinn seminar and Brussels conference “The Baltic Sea Region – A Science Powerhouse” were among the key most vivid examples of BSN achievements of putting science and research not only in the spotlight of the Baltic Sea Region, but also a wider European context.

Among the spin-off actions of BSN is the Hanseatic League of Science (HALOS). The project was brought to the attention of readers of the BSN website in an overview of the BSN presentation to the Fehmarnbelt Days 2018 audiences interested in HALOS. The Oslo meeting was a timely opportunity to explain the HALOS project in greater detail to the BSN members, especially the prominent role the University of Hamburg plays in co-coordinating (together with the University of Lund) the project funded by an Interreg programme (the area Öresund-Kattegatt-Skagerak), which does not geographically entail Hamburg.

Discussions on the long-term operation of the Baltic Science Network were enriched by a concise update about the recent developments of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). Anders Bergström, Policy Area Education, Research and Employability Coordinator of the EUSBSR, informed about the review of the flagships which is part of a wider exercise aimed at updating the Action Plan of the EUSBSR. BSN will be invited to inform how its activities have served in the overall implementation of the current edition of the EUSBSR Action Plan.

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The overall working level meeting was enriched by an inspiring guided tour around the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. This was one of the most impressive highlights of the overall BSN cultural programme experienced throughout the three years.  

 

 

Finnish stakeholders discussed bsn outcomes in Helsinki

Baltic Science Network continues its lively discussions with in-depth consultations in each countries represented in the consortium.

On 3 December 2018, University of Turku organised a stakeholder workshop for Finnish stakeholders of Baltic Science Network (BSN) in Helsinki.

The keynote speaker of the event was Helena Tuuri, Finland´s Ambassador for Baltic Sea Affairs. She pointed out that the Baltic Sea Region countries are used to working with each other, and that the Baltic Sea Region was the first macro-region in the EU to have a macro-regional strategy. Tuuri highlighted that despite such promising conditions there are challenges ahead, for example, in securing funding. Therefore, the actors in the Baltic Sea Region should keep the Baltic Sea Region issues in the minds and on-going discussions among the decision-makers.

Following the usual practices of a workshop format, the participants discussed BSN outcomes in small groups. The groups were formed on the basis of the following central topics of BSN: research infrastructures, researcher mobility and the three expert group papers in life sciences, photon/neutron science and welfare state.

Ritva Dammert, Director of Development at the University of Helsinki, summarised the outcomes of the discussions by pinpointing two issues. First of all, increasing awareness of what the Baltic Sea Region is important. Secondly, there are topics where Finland and other Baltic Sea Region countries can take up the responsibilities of the leading coordinator, such as open data and ethical principles in research.

The stakeholder workshop gave the participants the opportunity to hear about BSN and the on-going activities of the network. Likewise, it offered an opportunity to participate in a discussion revolving around the question which are the most important issues to be implemented in Finland.