riga workshopPhoto credit: Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia
BSN Riga Workshop paved way for further preparations in developing new approach for a fully-fledged and joint Baltic Sea Region-wide engagement in the upcoming 9th Framework Programme. The workshop provided a panoramic view at the previous Framework Programmes' and best practices of Latvian engagement in Horizon 2020 calls for project applications. These presentations were aimed at advancing the discussions among workshop participants regarding potential solutions for widened participation of EU-13 countries in the EU funded research programmes.
On 30 March 2017, the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science organised the international workshop Widening Participation in Horizon 2020: Baltic Sea Region on the Road Towards Being the Most Innovative Region in the World at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Riga Technical University in order to advance the transnational discussion on the relevant topic.

The workshop was opened by Dr Agrita Kiopa, Deputy State Secretary and Director for Higher Education and Research at the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science. The contextual background regarding the advancement of Framework Programmes thorough planning periods was presented by Dr Dimitri Corpakis, the Former Head of the Closing Innovation Divide Unit of the Directorate-General for Innovation and Research (DG RTD), European Commission. Furthermore, his presentation served to inform project application drafters of Horizon 2020 regarding the supportive Seal of Excellence initiative, which serves as a quality label for project applications of high quality despite the fact that they haven´t been granted the Horizon 2020 funding.

Dr. Žilvinas Martinaitis, Research Manager at Visionary Analytics, presented the initial findings of the upcoming report on widening participation of the EU-13 countries in EU- research programmes, highlighting obstacles for closer cooperation and making suggestions for further actions in order to tackle the existing challenges. Furthermore, the report will outline the core factors behind the success stories of the winning participants´ engagement in Horizon 2020 funded projects. As some of the key obstacles identified thus far in the exploratory phase of the report preparation Dr. Žilvinas Martinaitis identified lack of trust from consortium members to allocate the coordination responsibilities to the institutions from the EU-13 countries and a considerable burden posed by the mandatory bureaucracy thorough the project cycle.

The afternoon presentations were given by project partners, such as the Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia, Tilde, Riga Technical University and the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, outlining the key factors for successful engagement in Horizon 2020 projects, for example, robust track record of engagement in previous projects. Likewise, the importance of building the network of relevant contacts was emphasised, which shouldn´t be understood simply as a mere fun coffee time but collaborative engagement in practical activities in order to find out whether the interest in joint activities can be translated in further specific actions.

These inspiring sessions were followed by break-out sessions where workshop participants were invited to share their perspectives on such aspects of Horizon 2020 engagement as networking, ensuring quality of project applications, reasons behind the Mathew effect. The closing part of the workshop was dedicated to present the main points raised during the break-out discussions, such as, eagerness of the Baltic States´ research institutions to engage more actively in the Horizon 2020 consortiums and interest in the availability of networking opportunities.

The complete report prepared by Visionary Analytics will be available on the BSN website in June 2017.
The presentations of the workshop are available below the press release of the Latvian Ministry of Science and Education here.

The workshop photo album is available here.
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