Starting in November 2016 throughout December 2016 and January 2017, partners of the Baltic Science Network hosted national workshops across the Baltic Sea Region, assembling representatives from universities, research and academic institutions, national managing authorities as well as business sector in order to discuss challenges and barriers to research cooperation and mobility – and possible solutions in terms of enhancing macroregional cooperation.
The national workshop in Denmark took place on 30 November 2016 in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education (DAFSHE), as part of the BSN activity related to the identification of current challenges and barriers for science and research cooperation. Among the participants of the event were representatives from Copenhagen University, Aarhus University, Roskilde University, Denmark’s Technical University, Aalborg University, Copenhagen Business School, GEUS (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland), NIVA Danmark (Norsk Institutt for Vannforskning), and Baltic Development Forum.

At the workshop, DAFSHE presented a new analysis of the impact of publications co-produced by researchers from across the BSR, as seen from a Danish perspective. Also, DAFSHE gave an overview of the trend in terms of the number of research projects between Denmark and each BSR-country, financed by EU’s framework programmes (from Framework Programme 6 to Horizon 2020). DAFSHE concluded that BSR publications have a relatively high impact and that there seems to be a steady increase in the number of BSR-research projects over time.

For the second part of the workshop, participants engaged in a discussion on a number of themes and questions, in particular about best practice examples of research cooperation in the BSR, what constitutes an added value of regional cooperation, what are BSR-relevant research themes, mobility issues, and which factors that – as seen from a stakeholder perspective – constitute challenges and barriers to further BSR cooperation in research.

These findings will be also discussed during the macro-regional workshop on 18 January 2017 in Copenhagen, hosted by DAFSHE.

Invitation for the academic, researcher and policy manager community to contribute to the enhancement of Baltic Sea Region-wide mobility

In the framework of the Baltic Science Network MOSTA (Lithuanian governmental research and policy advisory organization) is launching a survey on the Baltic Sea Region-wide academic and researchers’ mobility trends, challenges and potential solutions.

The survey is designed to offer an opportunity for transnational research and academic mobility experts from the managing authorities, as well as researchers and academics based in the Council of the Baltic Sea States´ (CBSS) Member States to provide an assessment of academic and research mobility schemes implemented thus far in the Baltic Sea Region, as well as propose further enhancements to tackle the existing mobility shortfalls.

The survey offers a separate template for research and academic mobility experts from managing authorities (accessible here), as well as a separate template for academic and research community representatives (accessible here).

The goal of the research is to learn how – if it does – the researchers’ mobility impacts the academic performance and transnational competitiveness of the CBSS Member States, as well as individual institutions based in the Baltic Sea Region.

The scope of the surveys covers decision makers, administrators and researchers in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Russia (North Western Region). Should you be a representative of one of the communities invited to the survey, please do not hesitate to make your voice heard. It is a unique opportunity for you as a researcher or a stakeholder of the transnational mobility to become part of the Baltic Science Network and shape its recommendations by devoting five minutes of your time to fill in the survey form.

The results of both surveys will feed into the preparation of Baltic Science Network´s proposals for transnational strategies each designed for a specific area of scientific excellence. These proposals are aimed as guidance for national and regional implementation plans.

Since Baltic Science Network is a flagship of the Policy Area Education, Research and Employability of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the survey is of macro-regional importance. Thus, its findings will also have an impact on the way macro-regional approach is shaped in addressing the matters related to research and academic competitiveness of the Baltic Sea Region. Moreover, the results and conclusions drawn from the survey responses will bear relevance to the future shaping of the CBSS Science, Research and Innovation Agenda. The results and analysis of the survey results will be published on the Baltic Science Network´s website.

On 7 December 2016 the Baltic Science Network was presented to the Latvian parliamentarians during the meeting of the Baltic Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee by the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science. This meeting served to discuss the project in a more nuanced manner following the Joint Statement adopted by the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers on 28 October 2016.
Dr. Agrita Kiopa, Deputy State Secretary and Director of the Higher Education, Science and Innovation Department at the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science and Inga Jēkabsone, Deputy Director of the Higher Education, Science and Innovation Department at Latvian Ministry of Education and Science introduced the members of Saeima to the main goals of the Interreg project, its planned results, as well as the activities undertaken by the Ministry as one of the partners of the project.
Special emphasis was paid to explain how the Latvian engagement in Baltic Science Network will serve to further the interests of Latvia as one of the countries which aims at actively engaging in the implementation of the next Framework Programme in order to further its accelerated innovation performance and develop research infrastructure. In this context, it should be also noted that the European Innovation Scoreboard 2016 outlined Latvia´s outstanding pace and leading position in terms of enhancing its innovation potential.
The Latvian engagement in the Baltic Science Network was welcomed by the Latvian parliamentarians. In response to the enquiry, the Ministry expressed its readiness to proceed with similar presentations and discussions in order to inform the members of Parliament about the upcoming developments of the project as well as its results.
As outlined, the Baltic Science Network has been endorsed by the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers under the Joint Statement´s section Education, Science and Culture: “The Baltic States are actively participating in the INTERREG project “Baltic Science Network” in order to further develop the Baltic research infrastructure mapping and joint strategies for scientific excellence, to align policies on widening participation in future EU programmes on research and innovation, as well as to improve the mobility tools in research and higher education.”
For a more detailed outline on the proceedings of the meeting in Latvian, please proceed to the website of the Ministry of Education and Science here.
Ms Katariina Röbbelen-Voigt, Ministry of Science, Research and Equalities, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

On 9 November 2016, in Stockholm, Sweden, the Baltic Science Network (BSN) was presented to the macro-regional stakeholders at the 7th Strategy Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) during the session “Do we need a macro-regional dimension in higher education, science & research policy in the Baltic Sea Region?” The session was moderated by an experienced expert of macro-regional governance, the Project Manager of the Interact Point Turku Baiba Liepa.

At the beginning of the session the BSN Project Director Klaus von Lepel, representing the Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research and Equalities, introduced the EUSBSR stakeholders to the BSN, outlining its main goals, current scope of membership as well as its embeddedness in the existing transnational and macroregional governance structures. He outlined that “from the very beginning all national or regional decision makers in the field of science policy are members in the network. Since they are already being involved in the development of transnational strategies and tools, it is more likely that after the drafting phase all involved parties will be willing and able to implement them.”

The BSN team in Stockholm.

On the World Science Day for Peace and Development 2016, 10 November 2016 the Baltic Science Network (BSN) convened in Stockholm in order to discuss the role of the Network in advancing the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in the context of the Vision 2030 presented during the 7th Strategy Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), as well as outline the preparatory works in delivering outputs of the project.

world science day 2016The discussion on the Vision 2030 for the Baltic Sea Region was facilitated by one of the authors of the foresight report Kai Böhme. He outlined the need for timely solution shaping in tackling the upcoming disparities. One area which would greatly benefit from such engagement would be the civil protection.

The BSN members also reflected on the role of joint advocacy of the Baltic Sea Region interests in advancement of the European Research Area and consultations regarding the upcoming Framework Programme 9. Another topic of crucial importance to the long-term development of the Network is to promote balance of geographical coverage of BSN supported activities.

The discussions revolved around one more long-term dimension of the BSN – the widening of participation. The goal is to decrease the macro-regional disparities by ensuring expansion of cooperation between science and research institutions of highly performing regions and countries and moderately or low performing ones. It will also entail finding the right balance between widening participation and ensuring academic excellence.

The brief introduction to the study, analysing existing trends in the academic mobility, which took place during the session “Do we need a macro-regional dimension in higher education, science & research policy in the Baltic Sea Region?” of 7th Strategy Forum of the EUSBSR, was followed-up by a more extensive presentation of the findings, since they bear relevance to a number of BSN activities and are of importance to the on-going drafting of policy assessments, as well as national and regional action plans. Namely, Dr. Tom Schumacher from the Kiel University elaborated on the main flows of research and academic staff in the Baltic Sea Region in line with his analysis published in the BSN research paper “International Mobility of Researchers in the Baltic Sea Region”.

In order to build awareness among other regional science, research and innovation policy communities about the on-going work of the leading transnational projects in this domain, the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) informed that BSN will be presented on 28 November 2016 during the meeting of the Four Councils of the North in Stockholm. The meeting, assembling the CBSS, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council will be hosted by the CBSS. Since both CBSS and Arctic Council recently held their first Science Ministerials, then the meeting will allow reflecting and exchanging views on how to ensure the sustainability of science, research and innovation initiatives.

Download the pdf Press Release (307 KB) .

Panel discussion on researcher mobility

On 22 September 2016 the Baltic Science Network organised the panel discussion “Researcher mobility in the Baltic Sea Region” during the Fehmarnbelt Days at the HafenCity University in Hamburg, Germany. Stakeholders from the Baltic Sea Region discussed motivation and benefits, as well as challenges and obstacles related to the mobility of researchers and scientists.

The session started with Dr. Tom Schumacher´s (University of Kiel) introduction to the facts and figures stated in the Baltic Science Network´s (BSN) preliminary study on research mobility.

Among other panellists were Katharina Fegebank, Minister for Science Research and Equalities, City of Hamburg, Jan Kercher representing German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Lone Jessen from NordForsk (the research organisation of the Nordic Council of Ministers) and Prof. Dr. Robert Blick, Director of the Center for Hybrid Nanostructures (CHYN) at the University of Hamburg. The discussion was moderated by science and education journalist Jan-Martin Wiarda.