BSN Discussed During the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day 2018

On 25 January 2018, the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day 2018 took place in the framework of the 5th Rectors´ Conference of the Baltic University Programme hosted by the Åbo Akademi University on the occasion of its centenary celebrations. Baltic Science Network was one of the major topics of discussions.

Baltic Science Network started 2018 by introducing universities across the Baltic Sea Region and beyond it to the recently chosen thematic areas, the latest findings on the Matthew Effect in the European Research Area and the importance of continued implementation of measures tailored for widening participation and spreading excellence.

Klaus von Lepel, Director of the Baltic Science Network, introduced universities´ leadership as well as national and macro-regional policy experts to the recently chosen three thematic areas – life sciences, photon or neutron sciences, as well as welfare state. Likewise, the second CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day allowed to highlight the most recent findings produced by the Baltic Science Network. Conclusions of the reports dedicated to the Mathew Effect in the European Research Area´s setting as well as the role of spreading excellence and widening measures in engaging the EU-13 countries (based in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR)) in the EU Framework Programmes were presented.

Further details of the Baltic Science Network´s on-going work were outlined during the parallel workshop titled “International cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region – a major factor for success – research, innovation and mobility” which benefited from the insights in the mobility tools offered by the Swedish Institute. Ms Monika Wirkkala, Head of Talent Mobility Unit at the Swedish Institute, informed about the new call aimed at strengthening the academic cooperation, exchange and mobility for the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia.

Following the Baltic Science Network meeting held last April, the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day 2018 was a much appreciated occasion for returning to the campus of Åbo Akademi University in order to discuss researchers´ mobility with the universities´ leadership.

The slides presented by Mr Klaus von Lepel is accessible here.
The CBSS press release is accessible here.
The brochure of the 5th Rectors Conference of the Baltic University Programme is accessible here.

Download the pdf Press Release (668 KB) .


Baltic Assembly and Baltic Council Provides Guidance to the BSN

Riigikogu Photo Archive, Author: Erik Peinar

Baltic Science Network is delighted about its most recent political endorsement expressed by the Baltic Assembly. The political encouragement is an important incentive and reference point for the on-going work of the Network.

On 9-10 November 2017 in Tallinn, parliamentarians and governmental representatives from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania convened for the 36th Session of the Baltic Assembly and the 23rd Baltic Council to discuss cooperation in security and defence, transport and energy infrastructure, education, culture and health care as well as evaluate the implementation of the joint priorities of 2017 and define objectives of cooperation for 2018.

Under the thematic strand of cooperation in higher education and professional education the Resolution of the 36th Session of the Baltic Assembly encourages “with an active and targeted approach, to continue joint action in the Baltic Science Network”.

Under the thematic section dedicated to education, research, health care and culture, the Joint Statement of the 23rd Baltic Council highlights that “Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will continue their close cooperation towards building a common higher education and science area to boost research excellence, innovation, investment and overall competitiveness of the region. The main undertakings to be highlighted are the Baltic Bonus programme for the Horizon 2020, and the Interreg project “Baltic Science Network”.”

The press release is based on the documents and publications of the Baltic Assembly accessible  here.

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BSN maps its evolution periods, image 1 

Ministry of Science, Research and Equalities of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg hosted the Baltic Science Network brainstorming seminar. Attendants outlined the Network´s short-, mid- and long-term goals, potential supportive means of spreading research excellence and widening participation through complementary measures tailored for the macro-regional researchers´ mobility.

On 5 – 6 February 2018, Baltic Science Network (BSN) met in Hamburg in order to exchange views on short-, mid- and long-term vision of its evolution. After the recent engagement with the universities based in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) and beyond its borders during the 5th Rectors´ Conference of the Baltic University Programme (BUP) and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Baltic Sea Science Day 2018, the joint brainstorming facilitated consultations among BSN members and authors of the BSN commissioned research papers on what would be the most feasible support measures for the researchers based in the BSR.


BSN maps its evolution periods, image 2

A wealth of ideas was dedicated to the topic of which supportive measures should be adopted in order to establish closer ties among researchers specifically within the BSR. Anders Bergström, Coordinator of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area Education, Research and Employability (PA Education) encouraged seminar´s participants to view the BSR as an interconnected system, where stakeholders are gathered for co-creation in cross-sectorial groups based on multilevel governance. Widening participation and research excellence goes hand-in-hand when the macro-region is forming a joint area for research fostered by the BSN. The importance of focusing on the BSR as an integral part of the European Research Area was stressed not solely by the BSN members but also invited researchers, such as Dr Erkki Karo, Director of the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at the Tallinn University of Technology.


BSN maps its evolution periods, image 3

BSN members had the pleasure of reviewing the selected experts for the BSN expert groups, which will soon start their work towards elaborating BSN focus on photon and neutron science, life sciences and welfare state topics. Thus, the first half of 2018 promises a lot of new insights to the BSN members and a wider circle of stakeholders of the BSR research and higher education domains.

All readers interested in getting to know more details about the latest BSN developments are warmly invited to join the EUSBSR PA Education stakeholder seminar to be held on 12 February 2018 in Stockholm. The condensed overview of BSN publications published so far “Baltic Science Network Brings the Baltic Sea Region Towards an Enhanced Functional Proximity & Inclusive Excellence: Key Messages of the Baltic Science Network Working Papers & Studies Published During the First Phase of the Project Implementation” would serve as a valuable reading material ahead of the event.


Download the pdf Press Release (962 KB)

Baltic Science Network Rests Committed to Spreading ExcellenceEstonia, the pioneer of digital innovation and e-society, hosted the key Baltic Science Network seminar on spreading excellence and widening participation in Tallinn, the second most innovative capital of the EU. Discussions which took place at the beginning of the second phase of the Network´s implementation gave a notable contribution to the overall understanding of which existing initiatives and potential new measures should be combined to enhance the research potential across the Baltic Sea Region.

On 15 November 2017, the Baltic Science Network (BSN) held a Steering Committee meeting. One of the key themes was the concluding discussion on the joint non-paper dedicated to the Framework Programme 9. Likewise, the Network members shared initial thoughts on the future guiding thematic areas of joint transnational strategies themed as welfare state, photon and neutron sciences and life sciences. These suggested broad thematic areas serve as the initial point of departure. Consequently, expert groups will be established that will hone the exact niche of common interest. In order to enrich the Network´s awareness of the potential future support measures for research cooperation across the Baltic Sea Region, a brainstorming workshop facilitated by Gaia Group, was held during the concluding phase of the BSN meeting.

On 16 November 2017, the BSN transnational seminar “New Tools for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation in Research and Innovation Programmes” was held at the helm of the Estonian EU Presidency at the Art Museum of Estonia (Kumu).

The BSN transnational seminar was the most notable occasion of macro-regional discussions on widening measures implemented with the support of the EU Framework Programmes so far. While mapping the potential solutions to the existing challenges associated with the innovation gap in the EU, the Baltic Sea Region remained the overall focus area. In addition to the EU Framework Programmes, a special attention was turned to widening participation strand of some of the research cooperation programmes aligned with the European Research Area.

During her opening remarks Mailis Reps, Estonian Minister for Education and Research, elaborated on the importance of presenting sound arguments, once suggesting the development of new policy measures. Minister pointed out the importance of BSN and Baltic TRAM (Transnational Access in Macro-region), the two projects endorsed during the first CBSS Science Ministerial, as well as the BONUS Programme. Likewise, she pointed out the topicality of the CBSS Baltic 2030 Action Plan.

The main findings of the seminar were threefold, focusing on domestic research excellence, enhancing the complementarities between the existing support schemes as well as recognising the unique characteristics of challenges faced by the Baltic Sea Region in relation to the existing innovation gap.

It was re-affirmed that excellence should be first and foremost developed at home. Likewise, the focus should be kept on people as the main catalysers of innovation. The driving force behind a research excellence ambition should stem from setting long-term goals and investing time in building networks. It was stressed that the EU13 challenges affect EU15 as well, since all institutions are interested in benefiting from the cooperation with EU-based institutions which represent a growing research competitiveness and renowned expertise.

While acknowledging that the overall support schemes´ landscape is very dense and not the easiest to navigate, participants recognised the value of exploring further complementarities of research support schemes of the Cohesion Policy and the EU Framework Programme and other means. One of the promising starting points in terms of aligning the joint activities with relevant thematic transnational and European commitments taken up by the BSN members is the Network´s contribution to the implementation of the EU Global Strategy, as pointed out by Indrek Reimand, Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia. Gunnel Gustafsson, Director of NordForsk, presented lessons learnt from the Nordic cooperation which could bear relevance to the Baltic Sea Region-wide setting. Anders Bergstrӧm, Coordinator of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area Education, Research and Employability (PA Education), expressed readiness to explore support measures which would help to enhance the drafting skills for the EU Framework Programme´s project applications.

The challenges to widening participation and the reasons behind the persisting dissimilarities in innovation performance in EU were discussed among speakers with many suggestions of specific solutions. Kadri Ukrainski from the University of Tartu presented to the conference attendants the key findings of the BSN research paper “Participation in ERA and Baltic Sea RDI Initiatives and Activities: Analysis and Policy Implications for Widening Participation of Strong and Moderate Innovators”.

The BSN Tallinn seminar allowed to explain to the wider audiences the newly introduced term “functional proximity”. It is tailored for assessing to what degree the innovation and knowledge generation capacities are of a compatible character, thus making cooperation easier including lower transaction costs. Similar institutional and governance structures can contribute to increasing functional proximity. In other words, functional proximity reflects the orientation towards similar focuses e.g. processes and end-products. Currently, the Baltic Sea Region is characterized by a low level of functional proximity. However, if applied in a careful manner the concept could facilitate the passage of the Baltic Sea Region towards offering solutions for an inclusive research excellence development. 

BSN´s second phase of implementation will be guided by the encouraging words offered both by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of the European Commission. Namely, Wolfgang Burtscher, representing DG RTD, brought the audience´s attention to the simple fact that Europe´s talent pool is everywhere. However, unlocking its full potential requires time due to the fact that networking and finding the most appropriate cooperation partners is not a speedy process. Rudolf Niessler, representing DG REGIO, noted the importance of further supporting the engagement of researchers and enterprises in the international communities of innovators, which shape the overall understanding of technological development. He pointed out that there was a gap in funding and supporting companies until they can fully commercialize their product. Thus, a suggestion to design in the next upcoming financial framework of INTERREG a tailored strand to address this matter was presented for a wider consideration.

Photo credit: Aron Urb, Foto-Orants OÜPhoto credit: Aron Urb, Foto-Orants OÜ

Besides the earlier mentioned speakers, a wealth of other perspectives on which niches might serve to advance the Baltic Sea Region´s research excellence, were presented, for example, circular economy, bio-economy, agriculture and civil engineering to name a few. The seminar also testified to the overall understanding that further advancement of research excellence is inseparable from national financial contributions as well as acknowledgement of achievements reached both by pulling together national resources, as well as benefiting from the Cohesion Policy instruments and the EU Framework Programmes. The BSN Tallinn seminar was concluded by highlighting the commitment of the macro-region to build stronger and more competitive Europe. Seminar´s moderator Andres Koppel, slightly paraphrasing the widely cited saying of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America, closed that the Baltic Sea Region should ask not what Europe can do for the macro-region, but what the macro-region in a joint fashion can do for Europe.

Videos of the BSN Tallinn seminar panels are available on the YouTube channel of the Estonian Information Technology College:

Photos of the BSN Tallinn seminar are available on the CBSS Flickr account here.

Download the pdf Press Release (1.05 MB)

Download the pdf Conclusions (392 KB)


BSN Contributes to the Lithuanian Discussions on Widening Participation

On 21 November 2017, Baltic Science Network (BSN) “Study on Research Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region: Existing Networks, Obstacles and Ways Forward” was presented by Dr. Žilvinas Martinaitis, Research Manager at Visionary Analytics, during the conference “Widening Lithuanian Research Potential” hosted by the Research Council of Lithuania in Vilnius. The event was dedicated to the launch of the Lithuanian Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) office in Brussels (LINO).

Conference “Widening Lithuanian Research Potential” took place shortly after the BSN Tallinn seminar “New tools for spreading excellence and widening participation in research and innovation programmes” organised at the helm of the Estonian EU Presidency. Thus, it offered a much-awaited opportunity to present to the wider audiences the main take-aways of the BSN Tallinn seminar, which bear relevance to the Lithuanian aspirations in engaging more actively in the projects and research support measures offered by Horizon 2020 and the future Framework Programme 9.

“Widening Lithuanian Research Potential” wasn´t just an introspective event in terms of focusing solely on the Lithuanian research landscape and dynamics. The event benefited from insights presented by Ms Magda de Carli, Head of Unit for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission.

Likewise, among the conference speakers was Dr. Ene Kadastik, Deputy Head of Research Policy Department, Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, who gave an outline of the Estonian engagement in Horizon 2020, as well as offered an insight in the research and innovation related agenda of the Estonian EU Presidency. “Widening Lithuanian Research Potential” allowed also to highlight the latest success of Estonia, being praised in the PISA 2015 ranking as the Europe´s best nation and the 6th best country globally in the evaluation of students´ problem solving skills.

In order to provide a more nuanced insight in the engagement of the Widening Member States (based in the Baltic Sea Region) in Horizon 2020 funded initiatives, a number of Teaming projects, Twinning projects and ERA Chairs´ implementers showcased their experience. For example, Teaming has sparked a change in the attitude towards research, putting emphasis on sustainability of the research findings and their impact on society.

In view of the BSN´s upcoming advocacy activities in Brussels, “Widening Lithuanian Research Potential” helped to establish closer ties with the Brussels-based actors of countries represented by the BSN.

Download the pdf Press Release (353 KB)


 BSN Presented to the Corporate Governance Experts

Baltic Science Network (BSN) was presented by its Polish representative, Angelika Kędzierska-Szczepaniak, Vice-Dean for Students and International Relations of the University of Gdańsk, to the attendants of the conference “Corporate Governance and Finance Conference”. The event took place on 19 – 20 October 2017. It was hosted by the Department of Corporate Finance of the University of Gdańsk.

Throughout the last months, the University of Gdańsk has promoted BSN among the guests of its hosted conferences, such as “Value Management” and “Modelling and Forecasting the National Economy”. Therefore, the University of Gdańsk is praised as one of the most active BSN members which continuously supports a dynamic dialogue with wider audiences regarding the goals and activities of BSN, a renowned macro-regional initiative.

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