Tadas Juknevičius
Photo credit: Saint-Petersburg University of Economics (UNECON)

 

Baltic Science Network (BSN) presents an overview of potential solutions to the existing challenges associated with the researcher mobility in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) in the Working Paper “Challenges to Researchers´ Mobility in the Baltic Sea Region” prepared by Lithuania´s Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA).

Just as in the case of the recently published Working Paper “Overview of the Best Practices of Researchers´ Mobility Programmes”, readers well acquainted with the discussions which took place during the first CBSS conference Baltic Sea Science Day and the BSN Vilnius workshop last winter will be able to use the latest Working Paper as a valuable source of reference for further considerations, which solutions should be selected for more detailed elaboration during the on-going transnationally coordinated drafting of the BSN national action plans. The Working Paper “Challenges to Researchers´ Mobility in the Baltic Sea Region” highlights ten challenges and presents potential solutions for each of the identified issues.

The Working Paper “Challenges to Researchers´ Mobility in the Baltic Sea Region” also serves as one of the suggested reading materials ahead of the BSN Tallinn seminar “New Tools for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation in Research and Innovation Programmes”. The much-awaited event will be hosted by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research on 16 November 2017. Online registration details are accessible here.

Download the pdf Press Release. (298 KB)

 

 

BSN presented to the Polish researchers

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 “Value Management”. The event started in Sopot and took place on the ferry to Nynashamn (Sweden) on 7-10 October 2017.

Following the conference “Modelling and Forecasting the National Economy”, the latest held event served as one of many occasions, where the University of Gdańsk, as a devoted BSN member, is actively promoting the Network to ensure that this macro-regionally renown initiative would benefit from a wider awareness among researchers and students.

In the context of the recent celebratory occasion of the European Cooperation Day, such efforts showcased by the Network members contribute to the overall BSN aspirations to ensure a continuous dialogue with relevant audiences and make the Baltic Sea Region-wide research goals well-known and understandable to the wider public.

Download the pdf Press Release (292 KB) .

 

 The Biblical Matthew Effect in the European Research Area

Photo credit: Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia

2020 with all its ambitious goals is approaching extremely fast. Yet, most of the youngest European States are still lagging significantly behind the rest of the European Union (EU) in converging as equal partners and contributors to the European Research Area (ERA). In the macroregional context, one way to tackle convergence challenges, associated with advancing a more balanced performance in research and scientific excellence, is to establish closer cooperation and joint approach to the identified challenge. The INTERREG Baltic Sea Region (BSR) Programme´s funded project BSN offers recommendations in its latest study on widening participation in research and innovation.

The main focus of “Study on Research Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region: Existing Networks, Obstacles and Ways Forward” is to define the barriers for widened participation of the new EU Member States (EU-13) in the EU Framework Programmes (FPs). The widening study attempts to contribute to creating a long-lasting joint BSN. Such Network would offer tangible solutions for addressing the macroregional convergence challenge.

Since the early 90s, the FPs have gradually opened-up and provided targeted incentives for researchers from the post-communist Central and Eastern Europe to join the European networks and common research and innovation (R&I) projects. Nevertheless, participation in the FPs of EU-13 in general and of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in particular, remains limited.

In more specific terms, the EU-13 has received less than 5% of the FP6, the FP7 and Horizon 2020 budget. In fact, all EU-13 countries have collectively secured less funding from the FP7 than the top five organisations from the EU-15. Furthermore, in contrast to the initial expectations, EU-13 (with the exception of Estonia) are not catching up with the EU-15. Estonia stands out of the EU-13 group, since it has converged with the EU-15 and currently receives relatively large funding from FPs, given the size of its research and innovation (R&I) system.

The three main obstacles, the study identified as reasons for the relatively low participation of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the FPs, are limited number and quality of proposals, poor access to networks, as well as relatively low level of funding obtained by the successful participant (in terms of calculated lower personnel costs) in comparison to the peers of EU-15.

The findings of the BSN´s latest widening study provide a BSR-focused perspective on the concept Robert K. Merton described in sociology as a biblical Matthew effect, where essentially the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

In the research excellence setting it translates as the earlier success of established centres of excellence in competitive R&I programmes leading to the accumulation of comparative advantage (know-how, funding, talent, reputation, etc.) at a rate that increases or maintains the distance between “leaders” and “followers”. This can explain the large (and growing) concentration of the FP funding: the top-500 organisations in the FP7 made up only 1.7% of successful participants, but received 60% of the total funding; similarly, the top-3 organisations from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland received over 10 % of FP7 funding for their respective countries.

The study is of relevance to everyone who is engaged or has a particular interest in the ERA. The study offers a nuanced insight into the obstacles faced despite the implementation of widened participation measures. The study argues that a polycentric approach in establishing islands of excellence would serve the overall interests of cohesive research excellence growth in the BSR and throughout the ERA.

The “Study on Research Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region: Existing Networks, Obstacles and Ways Forward” has been coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia and carried out by experts from Visionary Analytics with the support from Ventspils High Technology Park. This publication will be followed by a second studyParticipation in ERA and Baltic Sea RDI Initiatives and Activities: Analysis and Policy Implications for Widening Participation of Strong and Moderate Innovators”, which maps out several suggestions how to overcome the obstacles defined in the first study.

Both studies will be presented in the BSN transnational seminar “New Tools for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation in Research and Innovation Programmes” on 16 November 2017 in Tallinn. Registration for the seminar closes on 31 October 2017.

The full study paper is accessible here.

The summary of the study paper is accessible here.

Download the pdf Press Release (282 KB) .

 

 

Baltic Science Network acknowledges the value of the motto ‘sharing borders, growing closer’ of the celebration of the European Cooperation Day, since the Network is inherently dependent on solutions mapped on the basis of mutual understanding and joint commitment. There is no better way how to describe Baltic Science Network´s modus operandi then ʹto go far, go togetherʹ, since advancement of research excellence, which is the thematic focus of the Network, is dependent on vibrant interactions between the most promising minds and policy-makers supporting their aspirations. Baltic Science Network´s seminar “Creating the future of the Baltic Sea Region: Better competitiveness through joint research cooperation?” serves as the best example in this respect.

During the first half of the project implementation the Network members have gathered on several occasions to reflect on national, transnational and European research mobility schemes, as showcased by the list of Network´s publications. This notable body of analysis will facilitate the on-going drafting of multilaterally implementable new solutions to the existing shortfalls in the Baltic Sea Region-wide researcher mobility patterns.

This notable work has received a landslide of high-level acknowledgements, starting from Baltic Science Network being endorsed during the first Science Ministerial of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, then receiving the flagship status of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and being recognised by the Baltic Assembly and Baltic Council of Ministers, finally, being supported by the parliamentarians, as showcased by the Resolution of the 26th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.

Therefore, in the context of this year´s celebrations, Baltic Science Network would like to wish insightful collaboration to other networks, who share the spirit of the European Cooperation Day and are working towards building more prosperous Baltic Sea Region and whole Europe. In order to reconfirm the Network´s openness to new perspectives and continuous interest in taking stock of the vibrant Europe-wide discussions revolving around research mobility and support measures for research excellence, all parties interested in this debate are warmly welcome to join the upcoming Baltic Science Network´s transnational seminar in Tallinn. This much-awaited event will testify that the European cooperation is not just appreciated for one day a year, but it is a value upheld by many stakeholders, as showcased in their day-to-day work towards building result-oriented closer ties with like-minded peers.

Download the pdf Press Release (679 KB) .

 

 

Ms Carola Veit during her opening remarks
 
 
 

On 3 – 5 September 2017, Hamburg hosted the 26th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), which paid specific attention to more nuanced discussions on science cooperation under the title “Innovative Science”. Baltic Science Network (BSN) was one of the central discussion topics of the notable gathering of Baltic Sea Region´s (BSR) parliamentarians.

In her opening remarks, Ms Carola Veit elaborated on the choice of science being one of the discussion topics with a focus on the complexity of interaction between science community and politicians. Her remarks provided a valuable insight in the role evidence-based research should play in making the ever-increasing complexity of scientific findings and science developments more understandable to society. It serves also as an inspiring guidance to BSN in its on-going interaction with wider audiences.

Mr Olaf Scholz, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, outlined BSN as an example mirroring the importance Hamburg attaches to its engagement in the BSR cooperation.

Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat, during the session dedicated to science and research reflected on the Baltic Science Network as an example of practical steps taken towards the implementation of decade-long CBSS discussions. Likewise, she invited the parliamentarians to support BSN implementation through enhanced expert discussions, which would engage both BSN members and parliamentarians responsible for science and research matters. Such national consultations would be of a great value in light of the upcoming BSN national action plans.

The role of BSN as one of the key initiatives for BSR-wide coordinated advancement of research excellence and scientific competitiveness was also featured in other remarks presented by such speakers as Ambassador Hans Olsson, current CBSS Swedish Presidency Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials, and Jānis Vucāns, Vice President and Chair of the Latvian delegation to the Baltic Assembly.

Last but not least, the Resolution of 26th BSPC captures the essence of the conference´s discussions by noting BSN as a valuable macro-regional platform for targeted support to research cooperation. Further encouragement to the science and research cooperation aimed at ensuring global competitiveness was also expressed through an agreement that successful advancement of this domain on a macro-regional scale will demand increased investments. The 26th BSPC serves as the next major occasion of BSN endorsement by the parliamentarians (representing BSR countries) after the 22nd Baltic Council.

For a quick overview of the BSPC proceedings, please take a look at the BSPC in a Nutshell.

For more information on the CBSS engagement in the 26th BSPC, please proceed to the press release here.

Download the pdf Press Release (825 KB) .

 

Tadas Juknevičius
Photo credit: MOSTA, Valdemaras Novoslavskis

Work Package 6 “Capacity Building & Learning Experiences” of Baltic Science Network (BSN) underwent thorough preparations during the first half of the project which have resulted in the Working Paper “Overview of the Best Practices of Researchers´ Mobility Programmes” prepared by Lithuania´s Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA). Readers well acquainted with the discussions which took place during the first CBSS conference Baltic Sea Science Day and BSN Vilnius workshop last winter will find this overview insightful, since it entails an enlarged landscape of research mobility schemes. European schemes such as Erasmus, Erasmus+ and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions should be mentioned as illustrative examples.

As the survey results show, nationally administrated mobility programmes are also highly valued by the researcher community as enablers of closer cooperation in research across the Baltic Sea Region. Thus, they could also provide new solutions to boost researchers’ mobility within the macro-region.

“Overview of the Best Practices of Researchers´ Mobility Programmes” paves the way for further discussions on various factors determining the choice of researchers across the Baltic Sea Region to opt for nationally managed or EU provided mobility schemes. Last but not least, the latest Network´s Working Paper will serve as an insightful reading ahead of the BSN Tallinn seminar which will be taking place on 16 November 2017.