Baltic Science Network marks another step closer towards the finalisation of its national action plans by presenting to the wider readership the study “Participation in ERA and Baltic Sea RDI Initiatives and Activities: Analysis and Policy Implications for Widening Participation of Strong and Moderate Innovators”.

The statistics on the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (FP7) suggests that the ‘performance’ of most of the new Member States (EU-13) of the European Union (EU) falls short of that of the old EU Member States (EU-15). The survey conducted by Visionary Analytics “Study on Research Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region: Existing Networks, Obstacles and Ways Forward” also confirms this finding. In order to unfold the full potential of the new EU Member States to the benefit of the overall EU competitiveness over other regions of the world it is important to design additional tools to improve participation of EU-13 in the science cooperation programmes supporting the European Research Area. This line of thinking also entails a position that quotas or other direct forms of positive discrimination should be avoided.

Figure 4: Success rates in H2020

Baltic Science Network (BSN) with the INTERREG Baltic Sea Region (BSR) Programme´s support is undergoing an extensive research, which unravels the reasons behind the low participation of the majority of EU-13 located in the BSR. The main finding of the latest BSN survey is that the lack of functional proximity is the main challenge hampering more active RDI cooperation among relevant peers based in the BSR.

First, the barriers for collaboration were determined by Visionary Analytics. Thereafter solutions to improve the current situation were sought for in the latest published survey “Participation in ERA and Baltic Sea RDI Initiatives and Activities: Analysis and Policy Implications for Widening Participation of Strong and Moderate Innovators” co-authored by Ukrainski, Karo, Kirs and Kanep. Novel and forgotten measures for increasing cooperation are reflected on, and policy interventions are suggested.

Namely, the study proposes two types of new instruments aimed at increasing the functional proximity across the BSR as well as improving top-down coordination of regional RDI actions to respond to the global, EU-wide and macroregion-specific developments and societal challenges. The instruments are divided into sticks (regulatory instruments), carrots (economic instruments), and sermons (communication instruments).

For the BSR, the joint research beyond the current interests, such as RDI related to the conditions of the Baltic Sea itself, need to be defined and agreed (‘sticks’) and communicated (‘sermons’), but also promoted through joint representation at the EU level. Novel instruments, serving as 'carrots', for speeding-up a bottom-up cooperation should be introduced, such as:

  • BSN research prizes;
  • 2nd best funding grants for good quality applications which were not granted the funding of the European Research Council or H2020 but were recognised of having a considerable importance to the macro-regional research advancement. It would serve as a BSR-specific, so to say, sister award resembling the Europe-wide Seal of Excellence, which was outlined also during the BSN Riga workshop;
  • virtual service-centres and shared service-centres.

The BSN latest study is recommended as a suggested reading for all the experts interested in staying up to date with the latest developments of EU-13 and widening measures discussed in the context of the future (9th) EU Framework Programme. Likewise, the publication bears relevance in the context of the 2018 – 2020 time frame of the H2020 implementation, which will be characterised by intensified efforts to spread excellence and broaden participation across Europe.

Both latest BSN studies will be presented in the transnational seminar “New Tools for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation in Research and Innovation Programmes” on 16 November 2017 in Tallinn. Readers interested in joining the event are invited to proceed to the online registration for the seminar which will be closing on 31 October 2017.

The full Working Paper is accessible here.

The Executive Summary of the study paper is accessible here.

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