Merikotka and BONUS BALTIMARI hosted a panel discussion on improving uptake from research to practice

Baltic Seas conference panelists

On September 24-25, 2019, University of Turku hosted The Baltic Seas International Maritime Conference with a theme “European Maritime Research from Adriatic to Baltic”. On the second day of the conference, Kotka Maritime Research Centre and BONUS BALTIMARI project jointly hosted a session which included a panel discussion on strategies for improving uptake from research to practice. Here is a brief summary of the panel.

The panelists

  • Floris Goerlandt, Canada Research Chair in Risk Management for Marine Industries
  • Maria Hänninen, Research Director at Kotka Maritime Research Centre (Merikotka)
  • Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs, Vice-President (Academic Affairs) and Professor, World Maritime University
  • Valtteri Laine, Special advisor, Traficom

Moderators

  • Ketki Kulkarni, Postdoctoral Researcher at Aalto University
  • Anish Hebbar, Assistant Professor at World Maritime University

Highlights of the discussion

Dr. Floris began the session by speaking about different types of research affecting practice: basic science, use-inspired fundamental research and applied research. He emphasized the need for researchers to be flexible and accessible to policy-makers. He spoke about the importance of building relationships and ground rules with policy-makers.

Next, Dr. Maria shared her experiences of bridging the gap from research to practice. She mentioned how policy makers often require solutions in shorter times and research typically takes longer. However, she noted from experience that researchers are interested in practical problems and decision makers are interested about new research.

Dr. Jens highlighted the need for evidence-based research. He mentioned how scientific research often provided complex answers, while decision makers required easy-to-understand answers, which a wider range of people can comprehend.

Valtteri mentioned that the best way for policy-makers to be informed about scientific advances is through interactions like round-tables and closed group meetings. Often, policy-makers do not have access to scientific databases and that inhibits their search for current scientific works.

Dr. Maria was asked about how researchers could meet the timelines for policy-makers, given their different approaches and planning horizons. She mentioned that it would help to understand the sociology of risks and learning how decision-making works. This way, researchers to could aim for predicting the questions of the policy-makers in the future and plan research accordingly. Dr. Jens added that to convince to stakeholders about the validity of research, once again throws the spotlight on the need for evidence based research.

Dr. Floris was asked about how much importance do academics place on Technology Readiness Level (TRL). He stated that pursuing TRL was quite difficult in academia, since it would require sustained monetary and development efforts over a long period on a single project. A commentor from the audience pointed out that projects with higher TRL levels from academia, although appreciated by policy-makers, do not necessarily help young academics advance in their career. This is because they do not produce citations, which are required by researchers. Dr. Floris highlighted the efforts of BONUS, H2020 and other agencies in pushing for higher TRL in their projects and thought them to be better advocates for TRL, rather than universities.

Dr. Jens discussed how the metrics for academic performances are also now evolving, with more universities looking at TV, social media coverage and impacts of dissemination across all technological platforms (for example, twitter reaction analysis). It is becoming important to show how engaged you are as a university.

Valtteri was asked how can academics help to extend the reach of their work to policy-makers? He discussed the role of persons like himself, who are special advisors relating to policy and who are actively engaged in academia (as external PhD candidates or collaborators).

Conclusions

  1. There is an increasing need for evidence-based research, which can help build trust in stakeholders.
  2. Researchers can better predict the problems of the future (for policy-makers) by learning how decision-making works.
  3. Agencies such as BONUS and H2020 are on the right path of improving TRL of research projects. Dissemination of this work is important
  4. Researchers/academics may be more motivated to work on practical problems and higher TRLs, if their work can somehow contribute to their growth in academia. There should be more metrics apart from citations to help with this.
  5. Policy-makers need better access to scientific work. Open access should be promoted and researchers should establish regular communication channels with policy-makers.
  6. Organizations such as Merikotka and special advisors such as Valtteri and Jouni have an important role to play in bridging the gap from science to policy, as they are approachable to both, policy-makers and researchers.

Acknowledgements

The BONUS BALTIMARI project has received funding from BONUS (Art. 185), funded jointly by the EU and the Swedish Research Council Formas, the Polish National Center for Research and Development, and the Estonian Research Council.

SAVE THE DATE: COMPLETE Stakeholder Conference on 4-5 December 2019

Stakeholder conference

Towards solutions for sustainable shipping and boating: better biofouling and ballast water management

will be organized by COMPLETE project in Jurmala (Latvia), on 4–5 December 2019.

The aim of the conference is to discuss potential solutions and sustainable management options to reducing the risk of invasive species introductions caused by shipping and boating in the Baltic Sea Region. The latest findings on the magnitude of the biofouling issue, and the current practices for biofouling management will be presented, and cost-effective solutions to harmonizing management actions across the region will be sought. Biofouling management will be discussed from the viewpoints of both the commercial shipping sector as well as the leisure boating sector. Moreover, the need for an early warning system for harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in the region, and the scientific support for harmonized implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention will be clarified.

More information of the event at conference web page.

INFUTURE visit Volgo-Balt Administration in St Petersburg

 

INFUTURE held its 2nd working group meeting at Admiral Makarov State University for Maritime and Inland Shipping in St Petersburg on April 10, 2019. The main issues were to have a discussion related to project ongoing works and to continuation of those works in the near future. The working group meeting was attended by representatives of all Finnish and Russian partners and experts on inland waterway traffic. The project started perfectly. The first report named “Prosperous Future of Inland Waterways” had been published and can be found on Merikotka website at https://www.merikotka.fi/projects/infuture/?lang=en

On the second day, the INFUTURE group had an opportunity to visit the Volgo-Balt Administration in St Petersburg. The Deputy Head of Volgo-Balt Administration Mr. Gennady Iosifovich Aizen personally welcomed the delegation of Finnish representatives and the Russian participants of the INFUTURE project. He spoke about the role and importance of Volgo-Balt Administration, and cited the main data characterizing its activities in the region.

The next speaker, the leading specialist of the Basin Communications Centre Mr. Alexandr Anatolyevich Zhegalin, spoke about providing communications to navigators, the development of differential correction services and the prospects for implementation of river information services. The Deputy Head of the Cartographic Service Mr. Gleb Borisovich Chistyakov reported on the main tasks facing the cartographic service, on the modern technologies for creating paper and electronic navigation charts, on the operational aspects of providing cartographic products and proofreading data to ship-owners and captains, as well as on the introduction of digital technologies on the Volga-Baltic waterway.

The Finnish part of the project was presented by Ms. Tarja Javanainen (Merikotka) and Mr. Pekka Koskinen (Finnish Waterway Association). Their presentations were devoted both to the introduction of the project “The Future Potential of Inland Waterways” itself, as well as to the condition and development of ports and inland waterways in Finland and Sweden, and their role in the Baltic Sea region.

The project participants visited the Basin Communications Centre and the Ship Traffic Control Service, where the capabilities of the Volgo-Balt Administration in the operational monitoring of the entrusted waterways and fleet traffic control were demonstrated to them. The parties expressed a unanimous opinion about the need to attract young professionals and scientists to the work and activities under the project. The completion of the second day of work marked the successful completion of the second working meeting on the INFUTURE project.

KMRC involved in the trilateral co-operation of Gulf of Finland

KMRC participated the Trilateral Science Days which was organised on 17-18 October 2018 in St. Petersburg. The theme of the event was “Gulf of Finland – natural dynamics and anthropogenic impact” and it was dedicated to the past 50 years of trilateral cooperation between Finland, Estonia and Russia. The event was organised in the A.P. Karpinsky Russian Geological Research Institute. Research director Maria Hänninen presented our interdisciplinary research targeted to oil transportation in the Gulf of Finland.

 

 

Flagship project developing management strategies for ships’ ballast water and hull fouling

The EU project COMPLETE (Completing management options in the Baltic Sea Region to reduce risk of invasive alien species introduction by shipping) gained flagship project status from the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) on 26th of September 2018. This demonstrates the high political relevance of ships’ ballast water and hull fouling management to reduce the risk of introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens. The project’s aim to minimize this risk by the development of user-friendly tools and management options is recognized as essential. The flagship status supports conveying the relevant results and recommendations of the COMPLETE project to the policy level and contributes to ensuring that the project results are used in practice.

Aim to minimize the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens

The COMPLETE project develops consistent and adaptive management options for the Baltic Sea Region addressing both major vectors for invasive species introductions: ballast water and biofouling. The project is tackling several gaps in current knowledge and proposing both operational frameworks and user-friendly tools for the management of these two vectors. The COMPLETE project aims at developing a roadmap for a regionally harmonized biofouling management strategy by involving all relevant stakeholders in all phases of this process.

Co-operation between all Baltic Sea Region countries

COMPLETE partners from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden are working together with 23 associated organizations from all Baltic Sea states. These organizations include research organizations, maritime and environmental ministries, their agencies, relevant private companies (e.g. shipping companies, shipowners, port authorities) and NGOs.

 

Project web page: www.balticcomplete.com

Project can also be followed in twitter and ResearchGate.

 

International Evaluation of Research Activities Begins

The Kotka Maritime Research Centre is undertaking an evaluation of its research activities. The aim is to identify achievements and future priorities. In addition to scientific work, the evaluation covers societal interaction, which constitutes one of the Centre’s central priorities.

– Universities constantly undergo such evaluations, but this marks the first time a comprehensive evaluation is undertaken of scientific work at the Kotka Maritime Research Centre, explains Aalto University Professor Pentti Kujala.

In the context of the evaluation, experts will be hired both from Finland and abroad, marking a significant step in the process of developing the Kotka Maritime Research Centre. The evaluation is slated to begin in autumn 2018.