Brussels, 22 July 2002
The Academy of Finland has set out its ambition to be an active and influential force in European science policy in its recently published International Strategy.
The academy believes that many of the problems facing humankind today are of a global nature, and the only way to successfully tackle them is through international research cooperation. Finland proposes to play a leading role in European research activity, and the academy has therefore set itself three objectives: to become an active and influential force in European science policy, to become a global player and attractive partner in cooperation and to prepare Finnish researchers for international work and for promoting science internationally.
The academy is also eager to play its part in creating a European research area (ERA), as proposed by the European Commission.
'It is expected that the opening up of the European research area will benefit the science and technology sector throughout Europe,' states the report. 'Finland takes a very positive stance on the European research area. The initiative marks a step towards a common European research policy,' it continues.
The academy believes that crucial to the creation of an ERA are the development of a centre of excellence policy, the networking and opening up of research programmes and the promotion of researcher mobility and women's careers in research. 'The academy is actively involved in development efforts in all these areas,' says the strategy paper.
The paper also highlights the Academy of Finland's readiness to adapt in order to fit the needs of the ERA, stating that the academy's funding instruments shall be updated and developed as necessary.
The academy says the bringing together of national research funding bodies is vital to the creation of the ERA. The paper recommends that the European science foundation (ESF) has a prominent role in encouraging this, and 'considers it a possibility' that a European research council should be created in order to bring together research funding bodies.
While the academy is pleased with its record of domestic cooperation on matters surrounding the EU and research and development (R&D), it admits that further international cooperation - the networking and opening up of research programmes - 'presents a major challenge for the Academy of Finland.'
Finland does have the advantage that it is not restricted from funding foreign research by any legislative barriers. The academy already has a programme (Life as Learning) that operates on the basis of funding cooperation. Partner programmes are also operating in the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, France and Canada.
'The academy aims in its international funding cooperation to proceed one step at a time towards deeper collaboration, from bilateral networking towards jointly funded and coordinated programmes,' explains the paper.
Internationalisation is a top priority for the academy, which states that it 'needs to be taken into account in every aspect of the academy's daily operation, from work in committees and communications through financial or personnel administration to information technology. Everyday dialogue and exchange with organisations in other countries is a natural part of the worked done by academy units.'
The Academy of Finland's International Strategy: http://www.aka.fi/index.cfm?ChangeSetNo w=1&main_frame=users/33/435.cfm