The first BONUS Symposium brought about new evidences and knowledge for improved management of marine living resources in the Baltic Sea. The research findings discussed during this event are of potential relevance to the Baltic Science Network and its ongoing exploration of blue growth´s role in researchers’ mobility.

The first BONUS symposium titled “Science delivery for sustainable use of the Baltic Sea living resources” was held in Tallinn. Initiated by the BONUS INSPIRE project coordinator Dr. Henn Ojaveer, and organised together with BONUS BIO-C3 project, the event focused on science delivery not only for the scientific community around the Baltic Sea but also, through stakeholder panel discussions, for the policy-relevant cross-sectoral audience of key end users. Three days were split into four sessions offering 72 oral presentations and 35 poster presentations.

The opening speech was delivered by Dr. Tarmo Soomere, President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Andris Andrušaitis welcomed the 150 participants from 14 different countries on behalf of BONUS Secretariat and in the capacity of Chair of the Symposium’s Scientific Committee.

As an excellent example of clustering and cooperation, ten ongoing BONUS projects - BONUS INSPIRE, BIO-C3, GOHERR, BALTICAPP, BAMBI, BLUEWEBS, CHANGE, BALTCOAST, OPTIMUS and INTEGRAL - contributed to the symposium, as well as two BONUS+ projects ECOSUPPORT and IBAM through their earlier data. This was very welcomed in a recent paper by Pauline Snoeijs, Steve Bernard, Mike Elliott et al. “Towards better integration of environmental science in society: Lessons from BONUS”, and is a strong evidence of collaborative projects, such as in BONUS, tending to produce better quality papers than the single-team papers.

Such findings are also of relevance to Baltic Science Network (BSN) which serves as an EUSBSR Policy Area Education flagship and a notable macro-regional network for national science and research ministries. The initial BSN research findings presented during its most recent BSN Steering Committee meeting evidenced further that there is a strong support to life sciences and in particular marine sciences in the Baltic Sea region. This niche expertise is further supported by a good academic track record in terms of outstanding academic publications.

A distinct characteristic of the entire BONUS symposium was a brilliant integration of applied research (need-to-know) with exciting curiosity stories (nice-to-know), as summarized by Dr Andrušaitis. Although the symposium mainly dealt with the need-to-know questions, the abstract book offers further insight in the wealth of research collected in preparations ahead of the Symposium. The importance of knowledge synthesis was underlined by Dr. Jason Link, Prof. Dr. Herman Hummel, as well as Prof. Adriaan Rijnsdorp.

The symposium ended with closing words by Dr. Kaisa Kononen, director of the BONUS Secretariat informing the audience about the very recently published and very positive final evaluation of BONUS.

Further information about the Symposium, as well as future updates on a synthesis paper that is being developed based on the stakeholder panel discussions of the Symposium will be made available through the Symposium website here.

This BSN release is largely based on the BONUS news available at

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BSN BSRUN Riga Forum

Photo credit: University of Latvia

On 19 October 2017, Baltic Science Network was noted during the Annual Forum 2017 of the Baltic Sea Region University Network "Universities as the bridge between East and West" held in Riga. The event was hosted by the University of Latvia.

Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States´ (CBSS) Secretariat, during her presentation of the CBSS Science, Research and Innovation Agenda elaborated on the Baltic Science Network (BSN) bearing relevance in the context of the implementation of focus area “Quality Education & Lifelong Learning” of the CBSS Baltic 2030 Action Plan.

Among the speakers of the event were the BSN Finnish representatives, Irinja Paakkanen, Head of International Affairs, and Mari Leino, Planning Officer of the University of Turku. They elaborated on the mobility programmes implemented by the University of Turku during the presentation “Implementing University Strategy in Mobility Programmes”. 

Prof Krzysztof Bielawski, Vice-rector for Development of the University of Gdańsk, was also among the participants of the Forum. University of Gdańsk is the Polish BSN member, which was nominated for the participation in the Network by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland.

Baltic Sea Region University Network is one of the BSN members.

Photo album of the Forum is accessible here.

Full programme of the Forum is accessible here.


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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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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.

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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.

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 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) .