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21.12.2018 15:38

A quick BANOS CSA introduction - 'Engineering a launch pad'

Engineering a launch pad 

Andris by the rocksBy Andris Andrusaitis, Coordinator of the Baltic and North Sea Coordination and Support Action, and Acting Executive Director, BONUS

This autumn BONUS together with major research and innovation funders of 12 countries and four transnational organisations starts the Baltic and North Sea Coordination and Support Action (BANOS CSA). The aim is no less than preparing a framework for launching a joint Baltic and North Sea research and innovation programme.

Launch pad on BANOS CSAOur promise is to ensure that the future programme will achieve high level of scientific, administrative and financial integration, and generate strong impact as well as EU-level benefit. Already while designing the CSA proposal, we pictured it to be a bit similar to that of launching a complex spacecraft - providing the right direction and speed that would bring it to the necessary orbit and send it to the desired destination. While in-flight, adjustments are possible, the success of the whole mission depends on proper function of the launch pad and the booster engines. BONUS – the implementing structure of the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme will invest its 15-year experience in creating a programme that can fly high and far.

Slowly but steadily

The idea of a future joint research and innovation programme in support of achieving sustainability of the ecosystem services of the two sister seas washing the coasts of Northern Europe sparked already in early 2013. In 2015, the participating states expressed their commitment and in the same year a group of research policy experts and scientists draw an outline of such future programme (see BONUS in Brief 2015 issues). Now, with an ongoing debate on the design and priorities of the next EU research and innovation framework Horizon Europe, it is crucial that BANOS CSA provides us with more resources and time to build a firm fundament for an enduring and genuinely consolidated future collaboration.

BANOS CSA steps

A joint programme starts with a joint agenda

Developing a joint research and innovation agenda (SRIA) will be the most important task of BANOS CSA. Prior to it, we must first scout the landscape of current priorities by individual nations and transnational organisations and agree on the scope of the future programme. Our experienced German and Swedish partners have assumed these ground-preparing tasks. As soon as this is completed, we will activate the well-tested BONUS production chain: the international drafting team will draw the blueprint. This will be further discussed and adjusted through a series of stakeholder meetings and eventually be delivered to the Strategic Orientation Workshop (SOW) for its scrutiny. The SOW is a cross-national, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral consultation platform that will give the SRIA its ultimate shape and direction. We anticipate that the SRIA of the future programme will retain two important qualities of the current Baltic Sea strategic research agenda:

-    (i) being a ’living document‘, a character achieved through systematic updates, and

-    (ii) amalgamation of a far-reaching strategy with an operational programming (i.e. this provides the research and eco-innovation communities a single entry point to understand both the strategic direction and the timeline of its calls and actions). 

Making it tick

In which way the future programme will be governed and managed? How its funds will be administrated? What kind of a joint executive structure would be best suited to run it? And, most importantly, what format will it take? These are big questions, each entwined with another! There are many options and different scenarios have to be carefully analysed to find the most viable one. BONUS will lead the work package tasked to design the mechanism of the future programme. This does not mean that the solutions serving the Baltc Sea programme will be simply replicated. Instead, the priority of BANOS CSA will be to strengthen the North Sea component and find the ways that work flawlessly in the new context. Many lessons learned from BONUS’s years of practice will benefit the improvements in the new programme, for instance, simplifying the participation of future beneficiaries.

Turning idea into impact

The ongoing Baltic Sea programme has achieved much in strengthening the impact of research. Nevertheless, there is still lot of room for development of genuinely efficient platforms for engaging with the stakeholders and communicating the new scientific knowledge to its potential users, be it policy makers and managers in various economical sectors or innovative entrepreneurs. The BANOS CSA plan includes two dedicated packages to deal with communications and dissemination and strengthening the impact of research and innovation. For instance, our Belgian partners will lead the search for the best ways for implementing full data openness while the future programme’s strategies and instruments in support of diffusion of open innovation will be developed under coordination of the Dutch partners.

The reagional seas surrounding the European continent might seem very different but in one aspect, they are similar – it is there where the interconnection between a sea and human society comes to its closest. The bulk of the marine ecosystem services, be it tangible biological or mineral resources and waterways or recreation and inspiration, all originate in the regional seas. It is there where the strongest pressures are felt and achieving good environmental status is most urgent.

Much has to be done to establish systematic cooperation among the research and innovation programmes created for support of sustainable blue growth in Europe’s regional seas and BANOS CSA is committed to contribute to this important task.

For more information, email banoscsa@bonuseeig.fi.


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