Indonesia-Finland Seminar: Opportunities and Challenges in Research Collaboration, at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Helsinki, 4th April 2017

Indonesia – Finland research seminar: Opportunities and Challenges in Research Collaboration was held at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Helsinki on Tuesday, April 4th 2017. The seminar was co-organized with the Embassy of Indonesia in Finland and the University of Helsinki.

The seminar gathered 45 participants including researchers (professors, post docs and PhD students), research funding organizations and government representatives and other stakeholders from Finland and Indonesia. The goal of the seminar was to provide a platform to discuss about 1) the policies and regulations to conduct research in Indonesia, 2) Opportunities on research collaboration with Indonesian institutions, and 3)challenges and "obstacles” in the research collaborations between Indonesia and Finland. In addition, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry for Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia and the Ministry for Education and Culture of Finland, signed in Helsinki on 26th of April 2015 was used as a reference and a starting point for seminar discussions.

The Indonesian Ambassador, HE Wiwiek Setyawati Firman opened the seminar by stating that "The competitiveness of a nation and a country is determined by the quality of its human resources in controlling and utilizing science and technology”.

The morning session chaired by Patrick Hasjim from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia included presentations from three keynote speakers. The three speakers who are currently having research collaborations with Indonesian partners shared their personal insights regarding the collaboration projects between Indonesia and Finland. Professor Markku Kanninen from Viikki Tropical Resources Institute, University of Helsinki, discussed the lessons learned and future opportunities for a long term research collaboration in forestry research in Indonesia. He pointed out that Indonesia offers excellent opportunities for research collaborations but long-term collaborations are still rare and only few exist.

Dr. Anu Lounela, from the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology and professor Marko Virta from the Department of Food and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki, even though coming from different research areas, both shared their similar experiences on the challenges to obtain research permits and visas to conduct research in Indonesia.

The afternoon session chaired by Dr. Jarkko Mutanen from FinCEAL Plus Asia, started with an informative presentation from Dr. Johanna Hakala, Manager of International Affairs from the Academy of Finland. Johanna introduced and emphasized the role of Academy of Finland to support for international mobility and collaborations including the collaborations with Indonesian partners.

The session also included a panel discussion which covered three main issues on (I) the opportunities and challenges related to research collaboration between Indonesia and Finland, (II) identifying and highlighting current successful practices for the collaboration and (III) utilizing the MoU between the Ministry for Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia and the Ministry for Education and Culture of Finland. Tri Sundari, Head of Division for Cooperation from the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education of Indonesia and Dr. Ika Dewi Ana, Head of the Department of Dental Biomedical Science, University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia were the two panelists from Indonesia participating the panel via Skype conference call. Other two panelists were Dr. Otto Miettinen from Finnish Museum of Natural History, Finland and Dr. Windi Muziasari, Project Manager of Antibiotic Resistance in Indonesia Project, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Messages from the seminar and the panel discussion:

1. Indonesia has excellent potential and opportunities for research collaborations

  • Opportunities for international cooperation are widely available in different range of disciplines. For example, Indonesia has one of the world's greatest biodiversity and the Indonesian natural resources are diverse and abundant.
  • Indonesia has thousands of universities and research institutions throughout the country with availability of experts in different research fields.
  • Indonesia has international partners who are still active in collaborations, such as the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the World Bank.

2. Challenges and obstacles on conducting and implementing research in Indonesia

  • Long-term institutional cooperations are still rare which slow down the efficiency of research collaborations.
  • The number of cooperation programs is still relatively small especially in the field of science, technology, education, training and research.
  • Lack of researchers including doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers.
  • Limited research funds and inadequate infrastructures.
  • Bureaucracy in Indonesia which has yet not been effective and efficient in matters of obtaining Foreign Research Permit for the foreign researchers.
  • Preparations on other documents such as the MoU or Implementation Arrangement (IA) between the universities/ institutions, Material Transfer of Agreement (MTA), Ethical Clearance, temporary importing permit, and permission to collect data/ samples (Sampling permits) which are required to conduct research in Indonesia.

3. Solutions

  • Both the researchers/experts participating the seminar and the Finnish and Indonesian "MoU ministry partners” agreed that there is a need to form a joint working group as the "First step” implementation of the MoU between Indonesia and Finland for improving bilateral research collaboration and education activities.
  • Optimizing the dissemination of information on how to conduct research and cooperation with Indonesia including how to prepare the required documents needed. For example: to provide the information on the website of Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, the FinCEAL Plus and the universities in Indonesia.
  • The need to simplify the registration process of Foreign Research Permits in Indonesia for foreign researchers yet to keep the importance of security to protect Indonesian institutions and resources.
  • International Events at the universities in Indonesia involving international researchers need to be improved.

UniPID-FinCEAL Plus warmly thanks the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Helsinki for hosting/co-organizing and the University of Helsinki for co-organizing the event. Special thanks also goes to all speakers, panelists and participants for their active engagement. We hope that the event has managed to create fruitful discussions and links that enable more cooperation between our countries and regions in the near future.

Download the full programme and the presentations (pdf) of the seminar.

Text: Zenith Purisha, Windi Muziasari and Jarkko Mutanen
Photos:Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Helsinki, Finland