UniPID - Finnish University Partnership for International Development / FinCEAL Plus, University of Helsinki and the Embassies of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Royal Thai Embassy in Finland and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Finland organized a high-level ASEAN-Finland Research seminar focused on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), and research cooperation between Finland and ASEAN countries. The seminar was also live-streamed to the Internet. The seminar brought together experts from academia, industry as well as government representatives and other stakeholders from Finland and Southeast Asian countries to present and discuss about the present and future research cooperation between Southeast Asia and Finland, opportunities and challenges for research collaboration with Southeast Asian institutions and to discover untapped opportunities for cooperation and to establish new partnerships and to discover untapped opportunities for cooperation and establish new partnerships in STI between the two regions and provided a space for different stakeholders to share their expertise and experiences and provided a platform for developing concrete joint research cooperation initiatives.
UniPID - Finnish University Partnership for International Development / FinCEAL Plus, University of Helsinki and the Embassies of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Royal Thai Embassy in Finland and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Finland organized a high-level ASEAN-Finland Research seminar focused on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), and research cooperation between Finland and ASEAN countries. The seminar was also live-streamed to the Internet.
The ASEAN-Finland seminar gathered together over 60 experts (and more than 150 viewers through the Internet streams) from academia (including young scientists and experienced researchers) as well as Government representatives and other stakeholders from ASEAN countries and Finland to present and discuss about
- The present and future research cooperation between Southeast Asia and Finland
- Opportunities for research collaboration with Southeast Asian institutions
- Challenges on the process of research collaboration between Southeast Asia and Finland
- Discover untapped opportunities for cooperation and establish new partnerships in Science, Technology and Innovation between the two regions;
- Provide a space for different stakeholders to share their expertise and experiences related to key topics;
- Provide a platform for developing concrete joint research cooperation initiatives
The seminar welcome speech was given by Dr. Erja Heikkinen, the Director of Science Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Finland.
After warmly welcoming all participants to the seminar, Dr. Heikkinen thanked the Embassy of Vietnam, and Embassies of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, the FinCEAL Initiative and the University of Helsinki for organizing the event. Dr. Heikkinen said that there are several processes ongoing in Finland as for being stronger together with Asian countries and ASEAN is one of those important partner to conduct these policies in practice. She also stated that one of the working lines they have followed at the Ministry are the policies of promoting the internationalization of Finnish Higher education and research. The Ministry wants Finland to be a globally stronger pioneer in research and higher education and that also Finland is a reformer, experimenter, offers solutions, is an attractive investment target, is an efficient utilizer of knowledge, and has globally inspiring research and higher education environment as well as being strong as responsible as for global cooperation in higher education and research. In addition, Dr. Heikkinen also said that in this framework they have established a flagship research programme for cutting edge research, invited their higher education and research networks to a joint forum with the Ministry to discuss and develop the monitoring of the policies and have also established the Team Finland Knowledge Network and recruited four experts around the globe for the Finnish new approach for these Finnish Higher education and research Ambassadors. She also continued that in these policies for promoting the internationalization of Finnish higher education and research they have selected some priority countries and regions to enhance the collaboration and one of them is Southeast Asia.
Dr. Heikkinen then introduced Mrs. Anna Korpi, the new Higher Education and Science Counsellor for the Southeast Asia at the Embassy of Finland in Singapore. She also added that strengthening the higher education and research collaboration between the ASEAN countries and Finland will be one those important duties for the Counsellor.
The first speaker in the Session I, senior science adviser Dr. Otto Auranen from the Academy of Finland gave an interesting speech on research collaboration between ASEAN countries and Finland. Based on statistics he first discussed about the researcher mobility between different ASEAN countries and Finland such as research visits from ASEAN higher education institutions (HEI) and other research organizations to Finnish universities and vice versa and researcher from ASEAN countries working in Academy of Finland (AoF) –funded research projects. Based on bibliometric statistical analysis he also discussed about co-authored scientific publications and number of co-authored publications between ASEAN and Finland compared to overall publication volumes to these countries. From the statistical analyses Dr. Auranen concluded that the annual number of visits between ASEAN research organizations and Finnish universities has remained steady in recent years. Also ASEAN nationals of ASEAN countries are more visible in AoF –funded research groups than with individual grants and that volumes are quite low compared to overall presence of foreign nationals in AoF –funded projects. It was also noted that co-publishing between ASEAN countries and Finland has multiplied since the beginning of the 2000s but the volumes of co-publications are still quite low and total volume of publishing has grown with the same pace. He also stated that there is much more potential for collaborations and that it is not all about volumes but the nature of collaboration is significant too.
The second speaker in the session, Professor Markku Kanninen from Viikki Tropical Rsources Institute (VITRI) from the University of Helsinki talked about research collaboration between ASEAN countries and Finland in forestry and natural resource management and lessons learned and future opportunities. Prof. Kanninen talked about training, capacity building and education as they are very well linked together. He then showed some topics of research as examples of the researcher between ASEAN and the University of Helsinki have worked together including forest ecosystem restoration in the context of large-scale plantation development, peatland restoration (important source of climate change, carbon emission etc.), smallholder forestry and agroforestry -value chains (live better on planting tree or commercialization of tree resources, or industrialization), climate change mitigation and adaptation (big emission coming from destruction of forests and peatlands). In addition, he also spoke about education and capacity building topics including MSc and PhD studies at Finnish universities, joint thesis research in ASEAN countries, joint courses, curriculum development and institutional capacity building. Prof. Kanninen stated that the higher education collaboration can be a starting point of a long term collaboration in science and that their 50 year experience in collaboration with ASEAN countries shows this.
Prof. Kanninen concluded in Lessons learned (as the Finnish perspective) that the ASEAN countries offer excellent opportunities for cooperation in research and higher education on forests and natural resources and have globally important agendas and high priority in national/regional agendas as potential impact in development pathways, and have a lot of good andstrong institutes working on these topics in several countries so a strong basis exists. Also a good presence of international partners such a support from international banks (development banks), policy networks (such as Mekong river commission) and research entities (SIFOR etc.) exist. There is also a wide variety of fields and disciplines including economy, policy and social sciences. Some challenges Prof. Kanninen mentioned are that the long-term institutional partnerships are still rare and there are only few. He also stated that the joint programs in education, training and research are needed. Also bureaucracy (e.g. research permits, material transfer agreement and visas) is an increasing challenge for Finnish partners. These can jeopardize long-term collaboration and lead to exclusion of countries/partners. In addition, government to government and/or ASEAN-level agreements are needed. As "new horizons in research and capacity building" Prof. Kanninen listed as the important issues in "diversification of research topics": the linking natural resources to sustainable development goals (SDG's), roles of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, forest landscape restoration (including peatlands), improving rural livehoods such as smallholder forestry, energy etc. Prof. Kanninen also stated that the partners are diversifying in the region as both ASEAN and Finland have several universities and research institutes involved in the cooperation with international partners such as CIFOR, ICRAF etc. doing cooperation with ASEAN networks. Prof. Kanninen concluded that the low-hanging fruit for cooperation with the region would be starting at first with the education programs and then expanding to the science cooperation. (Training and capacity building as an important element.) and the links science-policy dialogues and societal interaction.
The next speaker, Professor Hannele Niemi, Research Director from the University of Helsinki, and the UNESCO Chair on Educational Ecosystems for Equity and Quality of Learning discussed about high-quality teachers as a joint aim and how to get more systematic cooperation in research and training. Professor Niemi said that the ASEAN countries are really different from each others and every country have their own features, own historical background, have their own curriculum (structure and system), also role of teachers is different (free or regulated), and that the quality assurance methods are also different. Prof. Niemi then compared the education systems in Finland and in ASEAN countries and showed that there are many differences. She also said that what connects us, in Finland and in each of the ASEAN countries is an interest towards how to enhance the quality of education. In many cases this is related to the primary level, but there are many issues also on higher level education. According to here, it is thus important how these different countries face to future: One important topic is 21st century competences - how to face the future needs in education and a big issue also is how each country faces is the learners, how different they are, and in which way different persons are learning and in which way we can help different learners to learn and avoid dropping out.
Prof. Niemi then showed examples of educational system differences and commonalities between Finland and Singapore and gave exampled related to these. Then she briefly discussed about education policy innovations in different ASEAN countries and then continued with the 21st century competences defined by the EU and other global actors, and what these competences are. Then she discussed about leadership in education and how education makes the future. She has not seen any systematic collaborations with ASEAN countries and Finland in the field of education, and according to her this should be increased. Prof. Niemi also showed what Finnish education system could offer for ASEAN country education systems: There are some crucial themes for education in ASEAN countries and Finland such as quality teaching and learning at schools, continuity of teacher education, teachers' professional development and learning, leadership in teaching, innovation and new technology and early childhood education. These topics Prof. Niemi has faced in ASEAN countries and hopes that we could have some new initiatives for research programs or projects on these. There should be funding for the projects in education and joint calls or platforms with education issues mentioned above.
According to Prof. Niemi the most important research cooperation joint projects or programmes could include the topics as 1)Future need in education at different levels (early childhood to adult education) 2)Innovations in education - and the new technology, e.g. digitalization, game-based learning, Artificial Intelligence in education and learning and 3)Leadership in education. In addition, joint education for teachers with shared best practices, research and evidence based practice, exchange programmes for teachers and student teachers and local and joint aims and vision of teachers’ and principal's development are needed. Prof. Niemi finally concluded that Networking, funding and joint call for research institutions and continuity for cooperation are required.
The next speaker Associate Professor Mimi Haryani Hassim from the School of Chemical and Energy Engineering/Centre of Hydrogen Energy, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor Bahru, Malaysia gave a speech about Malaysia-Finland Research and Development and the trends and prospects towards sustainable economic growth and social well-being. At first Dr. Hassim showed Malaysia Science outlook in 2017 and their recommendations. Then she showed the main research topics that Malaysia would like to do cooperation with Finland and other ASEAN countries including food security through aquaponics technology, sustainable strategy for palm oil biomass, biohydrogen and biomethane from palm oil mill effluent (POME) and fugitive emissions in chemical processing industries (CPI). She then introduced the problem statements and technological descriptions per each topics and how Malaysia and Finland could work together in these cases.
According to A/Prof. Hassim in aquaponics technology Finland and Malaysia have similar waste generated issues on fish breeding and on contaminants in vegetables due to pesticides. The solution she introduced was to combine both into closed system that is called the aquaponics and thus the fish waste becomes nutrients for the plants. She also said that Finland and Malaysia could learn and grow together in this area and focus on highly valuable products. In the field of sustainable strategy for palm oil biomass production:Malaysia and Finland could do collaboration on utilizing the unutilized biomass waste the Malaysia has in the process by using the highly advanced technologies related to bioenergy the Finland has combined with heat and power and biomass pyrolysis. Another join cooperation case A/Prof. Hassim mentioned is biohydrogen and (biomethane) from POME case related to designing an efficient bio-hythane production plan (to cater for demand of clean energy) using two-stage bio-reactor via microbial immobilization approaches with palm oil mill waste as the feedstock. As Malaysia has problems related in processing the biomass solid wastes and waste water both Malaysia and Finland could collaborate on reducing greenhouse gases and on biohydrogen production related to those as Finland has a strong background of biomass utilization and technology. The fourth collaboration example A/Prof. Hassim mentioned was fugitive emissions in chemical processing industustries where Finland and Malaysia could further collaborate in developing the detailed methods for quantifying the amount of fugitive emissions (already on the works by Borealis Ltd. in Porvoo) and come out with regional Southeast Asia volatile organic compound (VOC) control emissions regulation similar of what the EU has.
The next speaker, Associate Professor Hong-Gu He, Director of Research Programme (Women and Children Health Care), Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore talked about co-developing an intelligent customer-driven solution for orthopedic and pediatric surgery care (the ICory project): an innovative collaboration between Finland and Singapore, and its challenges and future opportunities. A/ Prof. He first introduced the Finnish and Singaporean partners in ICory collaboration project and then the objectives such as co-creating an intelligent, next generation surgery journey solution for both orthopedic and pediatric surgery journeys and use of machine learning, data analytics and robotics as part of the intelligent surgery journey solution and to develop an ecosystemic business model. A/ Prof. He then showed the potential benefits of Singapore-Finland collaboration such as providing more pleasant personalized surgery, to allow more effective healthcare resources distribution, to create new job opportunities for industry and research, to open a bigger market for participating companies in Finland and Singapore, to strengthen research collaboration among universities, hospitals and companies between two countries and finally to translate research evidence into the practice. After that A/Prof. He introduced different impacts of the project, and the reasons why they want to improve the patient surgery journey and common challenges in Finland and Singapore such as improving communication among healthcare providers and patients and caregivers and by giving patients and caregivers rehabilitation and emotional support after the surgery.
A/ Prof. He also mentioned some challenges in international collaboration such cultural differences, different ways of understanding the terminology etc. and data usage possibilities such as security related matters difference between different disciplines (all players having their own, different aims), and hospitals needing a proof/evidence about the solution benefits, diversity of funding sources of different collaboration partners (and we should think possibilities for developing new grants and funding opportunities between Finland and Singapore).
A/ Prof. He mentioned some future opportunities brought by the current collaboration such as: a repeatable approach to collaborate between hospitals, companies and research institutes between Finland and Singapore could be created and followed in other patient journeys and AI based decision support solutions. A/ Prof. He also stated as both Finland and Singapore have very advanced technological and research knowledge a long term collaboration could benefit patients, clinicians and other people in both countries. She concluded her talk with "the Five Cs" of for successful collaboration including commitment, collegiality, continuity, communication and consensus.
The next speaker Dr. Marko Virta from the University of Helsinki gave a talk about collaborative effort for analyzing the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Indonesia with its progress and challenges. Dr. Virta introduced the background for their antimicrobial resistance research in Southeast Asia and in Indonesia. They are funded by the Academy of Finland and have collaboration with Indonesian scientists and companies and been also supported by the Embassy of Indonesia in Finland. Dr. Virta talked also about the objectives of their project including producing data on the antibiotic resistance in the relevant environments, assess the risk of the AMR to the health and environment, produce basis on the key actions for monitoring and controlling the antibiotic resistance in Indonesia and, train Indonesian scientists to monitor and combat the antibiotic resistance. In addition, progress of the research was described. As challenges in the research, Dr. Virta mentioned that applying research permits is very challenging. To improve the situation, Dr. Virta suggested making the project of getting permits easier in case of excluding the commercial rights. Finally Dr. Virta mentioned some keys to success such as making a flexible research plan and schedule and by choosing correct local partners.
The next speaker, Dr. Lily Eurwilaichitr, the Vice President for International Collaboration in the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Thailand gave a speech about current status of microbial biotechnology research in Thailand and future opportunities for research collaboration with Finland. At the beginning of her talk Dr. Eurwilaichitr talked about Thailand 4.0 Innovation-driven economy and bioeconomy and competitive advantage focused on science, technology, innovation and creativity. She then talked about biodiversity research, and a high-throughput screening platform for rapid screening of microbes and microbial products and their microbial platform. Then Thailand Bioresource research center (TBCR) and their activities were shown. Related to ASEAN, Dr. Eurwilaichitr introduced the ASEAN network on Microbial Utilization and their cooperation in Asia with Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines,a and with other Asian countries such as China, Korea and Japan. She then talked about Microbial utilization (Microbial enzymes for bioindustry) and their projects and applications and networks related to these. As a final conclusion Dr. Eurwilaichitr showed some future opportunities for Thailand-Finland collaboration in research interests such as drug discovery from microorganisms, microbiome studies and biodiversity research and related conferences in the field.
The next speaker, Prof. Melda Kamil Ariadno, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia, gave a speech about potential collaboration between Indonesia and Finland in securing seafood security. At the beginning of her talk Prof. Melda talked about how to achieve seafood security from the point of view of fisheries, ocean as a clean seafood environment, coral reefs, fishermen and joint collaboration efforts and also sustainable development goal life below water targets. In addition, international efforts to combat the illegal fishing were discussed. Then Prof. Melda talked about the "Indonesian case” where Indonesia wants to achieve a seafood sovereignty and the major aspects in achieving sustainable fisheries development in fishing resources, marine environment and human resources and related challenges to achieve seafood security and major steps how to proceed with it and how to fight illegal fishing in Indonesia. She continued talking about Indonesian practices to protect marine environment and associated challenges. Finally Prof. Melda discussed about potential collaboration between Indonesia and Finland related to e.g. sustainable development goals (SDG-14:Life Below Water) to increase the scientific knowledge, research and technology of Ocean Health and that there shall be mutual benefit collaboration among developing and developed countries. She also suggested joint activities between countries such for the fisheries resources including developing environmental friendly fishing gear, developing the surveillance IT, and developing efficient and effective surveillance vessels. For the marine environment and marine habitat it is important to conduct research on ocean health, on national baseline data on coral reefs and research on coral reef evaluation standards and on seafood marketing including advocating seafood certification to the market.
Dr. Do Hoang Tung from the Centre for Engineering Physics, Institute of Physics at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology discussed about impact of Finland-Vietnam Innovation Partnership Program (phases:IPP and IPP2) on Research and development of plasma medicine in Vietnam. Dr. Do discussed at first about plasma and its application in medicine, then introduced the Innovation Partnership Program between Finland and Vietnam and how it has helped his research project commercialization and having a startup company IPP2 supporting them by giving seed funding, training on startup and helping on fund-raising and in building the relevant networks. Then he concluded his talk by giving some examples on the impact of IPP to Plasma medicine (research) in Vietnam in clinical trials in hospitals, raising the money from investors and by helping making their device a commercial medical device as used in hospitals in Vietnam.
In the Session II moderated by Dr. Jari Kaivo-oja, Research Director of Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku, Senior Scientist Jani Suomalainen from VTT, Finland gave a talk about fostering EU-ASEAN collaboration in cybersecurity and the case of Finland’s participation in YAKSHA project that is an EU Horizon 2020-funded project between EU and Southeast Asian countries in the area of cybersecurity. Mr. Suomalainen described cybersecurity as a global topic and that it does not know borders. He also said that in addition to building local capabilities to prevent cyberattacks and legislations to these we need international cooperation and good partnerships and information sharing between different countries. In addition, Mr. Suomalainen showed the Global Cybersecurity index to define the cybersecurity level of different countries. According to Mr. Suomalainen YAKSHA project aims to reinforce EU and ASEAN cooperation and build partnerships in the cybersecurity domain by developing a technical solution tailored to specific users and national needs, and by co-creating business models and ecosystem. In the YAKSHA project there are several target group organizations such as related to SMEs and large companies, critical infrastructure, government and policy making, knowledge and R&D and other non-governmental networks and interested parties. The objective of YAKSHA is to create a shared vision from national point of view of the cybersecurity innovation ecosystem and in addition, to generate ideas for action paths aiming at establishing the innovation ecosystem in the national context and generate ideas for novel business in the ASEAN markets. In addition, Mr. Suomalainen discussed about YAKSHA training and certification for establishing a permanent, sustainable identity of YAKSHA, and adopters of YAKSHA technology (so called ambassadors),and the roles of Finnish partners in YAKSHA such ecosystem and business model development, design and software development, piloting and validation and so on.
After the session speakers the seminar panel discussion - Opportunities and challenges on research collaboration between Southeast Asia and Finland, gathered six panelists, the ASEAN speakers of the seminar: Professor Melda Kamil Ariadno from Indonesia, Associate Professsor Mimi Haryani Hassim from Malaysia, Associate Professor Hong-Gu He from Singapore, Dr. Lily Eurwilaichitr from Thailand, Dr. Do Hoang Tung from Vietnam, and Mrs. Mona Arnold, Principal Scientist, from VTT, Finland together to discuss about the following key questions:
1)Where are the most promising "open windows” for Southeast Asia – Finland research collaboration and cooperation for your country and scientific community? Your personal Expert vision of future collaborations of Southeast Asia – Finland –collaboration?
Mrs. Arnold replied that VTT’s key role is to bring R&D further on in the innovation chain to the market for the benefit of society and businesses. There VTT sees a good cooperations between educational universities in ASEAN countries. From the substance point of view, the open windows, they would take a demand-driven approach and ask the ambassadors and universities what are the needs and opportunities of the ASEAN countries and take that as a starting point. We have a good set of technical research resources and VTT has excellent pilot facilities for biomass processing. What ASEAN countries can give are the frugal innovations where ASEAN is very strong.
In her response A/Prof. Hassim said that we have big opportunities what we can do together between Malaysia and Finland especially with the recent developments with Malaysian political field which is really in the middle of reforming process. All Malaysian ministries want to make a lot of improvements in the industry and among the areas that would benefit the countries is climate change, an issue to both Malaysia and Finland, sustainable development, renewable and clean energy, education and agriculture, organic types of food research. Malaysia is also into education at different levels such as starting from kindergarten level, and at schools made a national convention of class schools, where we take several teachers from different state and consult Finland to teach Malaysia, and some Malaysian universities allow students to their theses in "Finland style” so education model from Finland is very important for Malaysia.
According to Prof. Melda when we see the opportunity of collaboration among Finland and the ASEAN countries (Indonesia) we need to take up this question not to a very low level questions such as what is the mutual problem among us because maybe it will difficult to find similar problem between Finland and ASEAN (or Indonesia). According to her there is a need to depart from country state has been negotiated to really formulate the Sustainable Developemtn Goals (SDGs) so there is a strategic goals over there that could be faced by the world and world community. There is a need to focus to some of these that are faced by many countries in the world e.g. quality education, gender equality, powerty and education, environmental issues, and SDG-14:Life Below Water. According to Prof. Melda we need to look at those SDG goals and how to get these developing countries together to really identify the problems and there is an open window for collaboration.
Dr. Eurwilaichitr said that there are opportunities for Non-ASEAN countries and ASEAN country collaboration in the field of agriculture-biotechnology, medical biotechnology, and in international bilateral collaboration. The Ministry of Science and Technology of Thaland is developing an Eastern Economic corridor Innovation-EECI as a new growth hub and as a gateway to ASEAN. It offers a complete ecosystem for innovation and new economy estate specializing in a research and innovation related testing and evolution and according to Dr. EurwilaichitrThailand would like to invite Finland to be their partner in developing platforms in EECI to support Finnish companies in Thailand. For the topic of collaboration, Thailand and countries in ASEAN have a high biodiversity so Thailand is interested in seeking new technology platforms and experts to support them in the field of biodiscovery for conservation and utilization. Also most countries in ASEAN are agricultural based countries so collaboration in the field of advanced technologies to facilitate plant breeding is highly welcome. Dr. Eurwilaichitr also said that ASEAN scientists have expertise on tropical diseases which maybe complementary to Finnish scientists so research related to tropical diseases is another promising area of collaboration.
In her response A/Prof. Hong-gu He said that Singapore is a very developed country and the health care system is one of the best in the world. However, in Singapore we still face the problem of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer etc. In Singapore we welcome all kinds of research collaboration to help the country to overcome these above kinds of diseases especially use of all kinds of technologies and platforms the research, and studies can bring into practice. Singapore is a very open country and we need all kinds of high level collaborations and want to have more of them.
Dr. Do Hoang Tung stated that Vietnamese see Finland having a very good education system and that Finland is well known from it innovations, and these are the two topics Vietnam is also interested in developing. As an example platforms for biomedical and cultural field the above could be those "open windows" discussed and also if we bring together the scientific strengths of ASEAN countries and Finland we could have good future collaborations.
The panel chair Dr. Jari Kaivo-oja agreed that indeed the sustainable development goals are a very big issue and there is a need to have cross-ministerial collaborations in this field and there are some good Finnish approaches that are very systematic including a fact that all ministries are responsible for SDG’s and he also said that this approach needs more discussion between Finland and ASEAN countries and that it is a really big strategic challenge.
Dr. Kaivo-oja also commented that there has been a very interesting discussion about platform thinking, and maybe we need more discussion about STI platforms in ASEAN-Finland cooperation. He also added that there are more details in bioeconomy and in the biotechnology challenge as Finland has a bioeconomy strategy that is focusing on forest and agriculture and these sectors are important in the ASEAN region so there is a lot of shared interests in the fields of biotechnology, bioenergy and biofuel and a lot of interesting challenges related to these are waiting for us.
The panel then continued with another panelist question:
2)How we should make Southeast Asia – Finland research collaborations more effective and productive? Your personal expert mission of collaborations.
Mrs. Arnold from VTT stated that when we go to the demand-driven approaches, as a good example, the collaboration on water technology between Finland and Vietnam that has been going on for several years should be mentioned and it has also diluted into the business society and a very important aspect that we include the whole society, not only research institutes, but also brining in businesses into this, because they fit in to the future needs of the society in a very efficient way. She also wanted to emphasize that the collaboration is both institutional and also personal and here in Finland if one wants to collaborate more efficiently with ASEAN countries one should put more effort on personal communication and personal relation to the other countries. She also welcomes Team Finland’s new initiative on setting up a focus on ASEAN countries as a good starting point.
According to A/Prof. Hassim we can make use of any system we already have, for example in the exchange programs such as Erasmus+, and if we can talk about this matter together to discuss as the number of universities associated to this is very limited and sometimes our research areas do not fit to what our partnering universities are offering and we cannot apply due to mismatch of our research areas and if we can make us of Erasmus is already very wonderful, but if we can get more in to the cycle and research collaborations can be initiated through personal contacts and we agree on core publication, core supervision etc. and these work better if we have better established exchange programs not only with research scientists and students, but also academicans and lecturers, and proper (double)degree programs should be initiated between Finnish universities and universities in ASEAN countries.
Prof. Melda responded that there is a need to advocate the government and the community: Finland is very well known in high technology e.g. in environmental protection, well structured community and reliable government, but we cannot just imitate what has been done in Finland and try to implement that in Southeast Asian countries because the background and the culture, community, ideology, and all that will be very much different and it will be challenging for us to imitate one practice to another country. As an example Dr. Melda gave what they have been doing with Netherlands as they implemented of what they call the living labs, and they tried to look what are the real problems in the community, and the activity not just involving the lecturer, professor, the researcher, but also involving the student and they are going to go to the community and define and analyze the problem and by doing that we could learn from each other and the best practices etc. Also to mention in the community there were some challenges such as the water and waste management, not just having the researcher involved with joint research proposals together but involve some of the community. According to Prof. Melda we could also look into the best lessons learned with Finland.
Dr. Eurwilaichitr described the EU-ASEAN Joint Funding Scheme: In 2017 the Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Research and Innovation (JFS) was started to enhance research and innovation cooperation between the two regions. The JFS is a joint funding instrument under which national, regional and local funding agencies and ministries from SEA and Europe come together to fund bi-regional research and innovation projects. A first Joint Call for Proposals in the thematic areas Health (Emerging Infectious Diseases/AMR) and Environment/ Climate Change (Adaptation/ Resilience of food production systems, Impacts of Climate Change on Ecosystems/ Biodiversity) was successfully implemented in 2017. In June 2018, the second joint call was launched, focusing on the thematic areas of Bioeconomy and Infectious Diseases. 16 participating countries, but Finland is not involved in this.
(As a side note: the panel audience questions involved discussion about having a possibility for Finland joining the EU-ASEAN Joint Funding Scheme in the future).
Another way of collaborating Dr. Eurwilaichitr mentioned was thorugh/with certain research academic institutes that have research collaborations in ASEAN countries such as NSTDA-Thailand and Dr. Eurwilaichitr offered (through NSTDA) a possibility to build a Finland-Thailand research fellowship program and researchers in both countries could benefit on this mobility program.
A/Prof. Hong-Gu He responded to the second question that we should start from country level. Both Finland and ASEAN countries should develop a very close relationship and very friendly atmosphere of all kinds of collaboration. Lot of things in Singapore are from "top-to-down” that is very easy (but bottom-up is very difficult). This collaboration coul be for example by organizing joint grants etc and it would be beneficial to have a lot of cooperation together and to make Finland very visible in Singapore and it would be important to show what kind of collaboration possibilities Finland offers. She then concluded that we need to know the common interests in Finland and Singapore, and only when two partners understands their needs they can collaborate efficiently.
Dr. Do Hoang Tung stated that Top-down approach exists in Vietnam as well but not as "efficiently” as in Singapore. In Vietnam it is more like combination oftop-down (government) and bottom-up approaches and partnering and human contacts are very important in building the cooperation. IPP started in 2010, and took quite long time (2014) to start to be really be very efficient in Vietnam so it takes quite long time to establish fully functioning collaborations in Vietnam. In addition, he said that the cultures in ASEAN countries are very different from each other.
As a chair comment from Dr. Jari Kaivo-oja he said related to innovation research and learning questions: Are we ready to learn from each other and how do we learn from each other in collaborations? How were organize things in such way that learning is having a possibility to happen between partners what ever they are in this social-cultural contexts. In innovations we are talking about safe environment of learning and collaboration and if we have this, there is possibility to have scientific or technological breakthroughs in the future. If we want to learn from each other, we should "slightly” avoid top-down-thinking, as it is not good for collaborative activities.
Another matter Dr. Kaivo-oja commented about was smart specialization strategy is related to the cooperation possibilities and it is a key strategy in the European Union. According to the Dr. Kaivo-oja maybe we in the future we could have more opportunities for smart specialization strategy. He also added that different needs for resilience in society and renewing of each countries dynamic capabilities is more and more relevant in both ASEAN and EU countries.
The last panelist question was about:
3)Your own future roadmap to make to happen? Your strategic plan of desirable collaborations in Finland-Southeast Asia collaborations?
Mrs. Arnold stated that societal needs is a thing at VTT that we are mirroring our competence.VTT has done some technology roadmaps in: bioeconomy, on water (strategies) and on AI, and maybe would be interesting to see how similar roadmaps would look in different countries. Mrs Arnold welcomes Dr. Kaivo-oja’s words on smart specialization as being highly relevant for Finland as well, also bioeconomy + blue bioeconomy has been mentioned once, and these will connect all countries in ASEAN-Finald Reseach seminar. According to Mrs. Arnold VTT does not have a specialized roadmap for collaborating with ASEAN countries but they do have internal notes and it lists the expertise and looks at the strategy on business, innovation and foresight specifically for emerging economies. There they are looking into these things in two ways: How to be more efficient and how to co-develop and make efficient networks with all stakeholders, meaning the government, society, academia, businesses and others. This needs to be explored together with the ambassadors of each country so we get all views. One important matter that has been already discussed is the funding, and there are not that many funding tools today in Finland towards ASEAN countries. According to Mrs. Arnold Tekes/Business Finland have had the BEAM program, Singapore A*Star has had bilateral calls between Finland and Singapore, there is Europe-AID, there is the World Bank, so funding sources do exist, and these opportunities can be grabbed when we have personal or institutional relationship already established. She also stated that when there is a call out, if you have not grounded your collaboration, it is too late. This is something we are now working on in this room today!
A/Prof. Hassim responded to the final question that every country has different issues, and different obstacles. According to her in Malaysia the best way to make things happen is to work through the Embassy of Finland in Kuala Lumpur. Embassy of Finland will act as a middle-man in all of these collaborations. She also asked that what is the benefit doing that through the Embassy of Finland in all of the ASEAN countries?: We can make things happen more easily, e.g. to have a stakeholder meetings, between Malaysian government and Malaysian industries, that are relevant to the collaboration in the area of interest we are starting to work in and we can also initiate the projects and potential funding, and to see together (Malaysia and Finland sides) how to apply money together, and to get a good proposal.
Other collaboration solutions A/Prof. Hassim mentioned organizing a joint high level symposium and to make it also sustainable. According to her also alumni of those who graduated from Finland to Malaysia are important to keep the cooperation active and this ASEAN-Finland research seminar should also be arranged every year and when number of people participating grows, we can come into some kind of consortium. In addition, A/Prof. Hassim suggested that each current seminar speaker representative of ASEAN countries could volunteer being the contact points organizing these kinds of yearly event and to contact the Embassy of Finland in their countries to keep them updated.
Prof. Melda responded that we need to follow up this event with a very detailed discussion on a very specific issue: as an example how we could have water management in Indonesia, and to manage so that how to provide the basic needs for the community. Most of the attendants here in the ASEAN-Finland research seminar are students, and to spread out our thoughts and knowledge, philosophy, perspective, and we need to encourage each other to send our students to each of our countries (student exchange).
According to Prof. Melda, for the follow-up meeting we could try to choose some specific topics and to have some very deep discussions among scholars, researcher, how we could address problems based by community. There is also a need to change the prospective of the government, they are talking about some profit oriented development, but not only the business should come forward, but the primary needs of the country, but also involve the whole community and how the work community could get together and trying to solve the problems together.
Prof. Melda also proposed ASEAN-Finland research seminar to be followed by another seminar, but not as general as this one: In addition, she said that as FinCEAL Plus has been paying so much to science in addition also social sciences has to be approached and has to be explored and maybe each of us could find partners and sit together and look into issues we face together.
Dr. Eurwilaichitr suggested having a bilateral program that we could setup together between Finland and Thailand: and she first suggested having the research collaborative forums between both countries, as they have been doing that with several countries, (China, Japan, Taiwan). In addition, she suggested talking about the terms in setting up the forums, and e.g. scientists from Finland to Thailand could be invited and we could have several sessions in parallel, to discuss and present of what they do from both sides, and this could go on for another year that a Thai researcher could come to Finland. Dr. Eurwilaichitr stated that this kind cooperation needs budget as well, from NSTDA we could do that if we decide to collaborate with any countries and we could have that kind of scheme. Another form of cooperation possibility between Finland and Thailand Dr. Eurwilaichitrmentioned is a researcher mobility program where researcher from both sides could spend 1-3 months in each others laboratories to learn more deeply of what they do and plan things together. Accordning to Dr. Eurwilaichitr this could in some cases lead into the third plan is to setup a joint laboratory or the joint center together between two countries or institutes and they could come up with some very important projects. NSTDA has done this with some countries and champion people for collaboration is needed.
A/Prof. Hong-Gu He discussed about EU having a big budget and as Singapore has the EU office, one choice for Finland would be doing cooperation as part of the EU, but another choice is doing cooperation bilaterally. A/Prof. He also said that the ASEAN-Finland seminar is a good example how to reach the key researcher entities in target region. She also mentioned the roles of embassies of Finland in different countries and how Embassies of Finland should know the names of the students from that have received education in Finland and then ask them to act as alumni for Finland for fully utilizing them. In addition she discussed about financial issues in projects involving wide variety of different kinds of partners.
In his last statement Dr. Do Hoang Tung mentioned having the UNESCO International Center for Physics in Vietnam, and this center will connect the physicist from ASEAN countries, from Africa to the rest of the world. Accordng to him in the field of physics this centre can play some role in connecting researchers also to Finland. He also said they are organizing conferences through this centre and can inivite the professor and researchers from ASEAN and Finland to the conferences to get connected and this would enable having further research collaborations.In addition he said that there is not much knowledge of the Vietnamese Academy of Science about Finland and that he will do all he can to disseminate the information about Finland and Finnish research and innovation expertise in Vietnam to establish more collaborations in the future.
Dr. Jari Kaivo-oja also commented that there is Slush (event) for start-ups and in the context of Slush all key experts are saying that startups must focus on big challenges of the future. The sustainability questions seem to be quite important and happiness and welfare in the final stage are the big challenges everybody in this room. Happiness based business models, technology and social innovations. According to him in Finland we are focusing on smart specialization challenges and sustainable development goals and there is a possibility theoretically calculate smart specialization strategy for all ASEAN countries if it is required. He also added that there is a possibility to calculate the SDG’s if we have a big data and we can organize a sustainability machine to calculate things for ASEAN countries and then find the key problems.
Dr. Kaivo-oja had discussed with the EU representatives about the next EU framework program (Horizon Europe) challenges and of the key challenge was the cooperation on research infrastructures and EU has identified all relevant research infrastructures (RI) in Europe and they are now evaluating global partnerships within these research infrastructures. According to him in the ASEAN a key challenge will be developing the research infrastructures with high targets in order to be a good partner in scientific research collaborations, e.g. China and India are investing more money to these and they are getting more and more IPR to these countries. He also continued that there is a need for doing a high quality research in this context in ASEAN as well with Finland and that we must understand the EU is running the biggest research and development program in the world thus ASEAN countries should be ready to allocate strategically into similar kind of high level programs and then if there is this kind of activity it will be much more easier to have collaborations with RI, higher educations, and in the innovation field.
UniPID-FinCEAL Plus warmly thanks Embassies of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Royal Thai Embassy in Finland and the University of Helsinki and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Finland for co-organizing the seminar. Special thanks also goes to all seminar speakers, panelists and participants for their active engagement. We hope that the event has managed to create links that enable more cooperation between our countries and regions in the near future.
Photos: Heikki Eriksson