FinCEAL Plus Kick Off was a success!

April 23, 2015

The first day in Helsinki Congress Paasitorni gathered together approximately 80 participants, mostly researchers from different universities and research institutions, as well as representatives of funding institutions and ministries, to discuss the current state of international research collaboration especially with third countries at the national and European levels. Close to 100 people took part in the practical Horizon2020 training held on the second day either virtually or on-site at Helsinki Think Company.

The FinCEAL+ Kick-Off Event "FINLAND’S INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH COOPERATION – MAKING THE MOST OFHORIZON 2020" organized in Helsinki on 15-16 April was a success!

The first day in Helsinki Congress Paasitorni gathered together approximately 80 participants, mostly researchers from different universities and research institutions, as well as representatives of funding institutions and ministries, to discuss the current state of international research collaboration especially with third countries at the national and European levels. On the second day, close to 100 people took part in the practical Horizon2020 training either virtually or on-site at Helsinki Think Company.


Plenary speakers lined up for discussion

The seminar started with a plenary session that was opened by Counsellor of Education Tiina Vihma-Purovaara from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. In her opening speech, she discussed the different needs and motivations for international cooperation activities from the perspective of the Finnish Government’s policy-making as well as from the EU regional perspective. She stressed the importance of maintaining an active discussion and involvement with different stakeholders to find new innovative ways of collaboration to make most of the bi-regional opportunities both on national and European levels. Vihma-Purovaara also stated that the future guidelines for internationalization will be determined by the new Government so to a large extent it remains to be seen how the change in Government will affect our policies in the short and long term. Afterwards, UniPID’s Melissa Plath gave an overview of the objectives and activities of FinCEAL+ highlighting some of the new features of the project such as the addition of the Asia component, targeted travel support for PhD students, the rolling call for project preparatory funding and the events grants. 

Senior Adviser Outi Kauppinen from EU Research and Innovation Programmes (EUTI) at Tekes shared some interesting facts and figures on Finnish participation and success in FP7, as well as brand-new statistics about our Horizon2020 participation so far. She highlighted some of the key differences between the framework programmes, such as the change of status of countries like China, India, Brazil and Mexico, who are no longer automatically eligible for funding. Kauppinen also gave an overview of the main challenges of Horizon2020 during its first phase of implementation, stressing especially the competitiveness and oversubscription resulting from the challenge-based calls, as well as the emphasis on impact and SME involvement. These challenges are clearly demonstrated by the fact that the success rate for Finnish applicants has lowered significantly from the previous framework programme (21,4 % in FP7, 14,2 % in H2020 so far). Kauppinen went on to discuss the Finnish NCP’s analyses of the evaluation results which provided highly useful tips for those who are in the process or planning to prepare an H2020 proposal in the near future.


Outi Kauppinen from EUTI

Dr. Gerold Heinrichs, Head of Departmentfor Asia, America and Oceania at DLRProject Management Agency in Germany brought the perspective of a major European player in STI cooperation with third countries into the discussion. Dr. Heinrichs gave an overview of the different strategies that guide Germany’s approach to research cooperation with third countries. According to Heinrichs, ties between the Government and research institutions, as well as the relations between research institutions and industry have traditionally been strong, which is a major advantage both in terms of coherent policy formulation as well as participation in programmes like Horizon2020. Germany is also very active is pursuing the strategic goals in internationalization, even in cases where there is no support from the Commission. According to Heinrichs, member states can and should keep pursuing further cooperation with third countries through different coordinated initiatives which may act as a driving force for the Commission to also commit funding.


Group discussion in the Asia workshop

The last plenary speaker was Dr. Eeva Furman, Director ofthe Environmental Policy Centre at the Finnish EnvironmentInstitute (SYKE) who gave anexcellent case example of cross-border research cooperation andpartnerships in practice in the FP7 funded OpenNESS project that SYKE is currently coordinating. Many of the lessons learned in the consortium building, proposal preparation and implementation stages shared by Dr. Furman were valuable tips for other researchers and institutions planning similar international, multi-stakeholder projects. Especially finding the right partners was an issue that raised many questions. Dr. Furman encouraged researchers to start by looking at the already-existing networks and partnerships to form the group of core partners. From then on, consortium building is often an organic process in which new partners are found through the networks of the consortium members. A shared opinion between the speakers and the participants seemed to be that this way of partnership building is much more effective and efficient in practice that any online partner searches.

The information-packed plenary concluded in an open discussion where participants could comment and ask questions from the speakers.
The day continued with an Asia-focusednetworking session and workshop as well as a stakeholder meeting focused on the LAC region.



Informal discussion at the LAC stakeholder meeting

The second day of the event included a Horizon 2020training focusing on preparing applications with 3rd country partners, delivered by Dr. Michael Arvanitis Director of EuroScience Greece. Case examples of H2020 consortium building and proposal preparation were analyzed and concrete advice offered. The online Horizon2020 training is available for viewing here.

FinCEAL+ thanks the speakers and participants for theactive and inspiring two days!

Coffee break at Helsinki Think Company