Parallel sessions: SMART SPECIALIZATION AND STRUCTURAL FUNDING

Parallel session, Tuesday, 24th September 2013, 14:00-15:30, Room I-416, 4th floor

With a fresh emphasis on harmonising structural funding for research under the motto of “Smart Specialisation”, the European Union would like to streamline regional educational and research capacities. This session is dedicated to a discussion of the diversity of regional practices in Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Five speakers are invited to give a brief statement on the situation in their countries based on their own experiences with including SSH in Smart Specialization Strategies and recent programmes of structural funding. The focus is on success stories as well as challenges to be met in the process of  future funding allocation for SSH infrastructures, education and research. The session will highlight the potential of SSH for the achievement of common European goals.

Moderator: GIEDRIUS VILIŪNAS, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

Włodzimierz Bolecki, Polish Academy of Sciences and Humanities
SSH Structural Funding in Poland: Past Practices and New Proposals
My presentation will consist of three points. First, considering the proportions of structural support for sciences and humanities in Poland from 2008 to 2013, I will elaborate why SSH research in Poland did not get an essential Structural Funds support, and explain the consequences of this situation. Second, based on the Polish governmental strategy of Structural Funding for 2014-2020, possibilities of SSH support in Poland will be presented. Emphasis will be put on an exemplary new initiative of the Foundation for Polish Science for interdisciplinary research including a strong SSH component. Finally, to conclude, I will introduce the new idea for SSH structural funding: E-SSH labs. The project will be formulated in terms of European Research Area and Smart Specialization, and its aim is to develop the HERA model by delivering a new tool for higher quality SSH research. Besides, it could create a new level of cohesion in the European SSH domain, especially in the new EU member states and regions (getting Structural Funds support).

Adrian Dusa, Romanian Social Data Archive (RODA)
Challenges of using European Structural Funds. The Case of Romania
This presentation aims to differentiate between the absorption rate of the Structural Funds, and the implementation process of the funds absorbed. While official declarations from the Romanian Government show that Romania has one of the lowest absorption rates of Structural Funds (below 20%), there are positive results on different implementation indicators. We will try to classify projects in various categories, and select individual case studies for further feedback, while correlating these findings with some possible bottlenecks (legal issues, implementation difficulties etc.) in order to identify some explanatory factors. Finally, we would like to draw some valuable conclusions from this exercise and make some recommendations to decision makers at both national and EU-level.

Ülle Must, Estonian Research Council
The Estonian Case: SSH Communities and Funding Instruments
In our presentation we will put three themes to the discussion: first, we will briefly elaborate how the Estonian SSH communities – despite their traditionally individualistic working styles – cope with comprehensive cooperation instruments, such as in the European Framework programmes. Second, we will show how Estonian SSH communities found ways to deal with the bureaucratic aspects of structural funding. Third, we will describe the Estonian strategies of Smart Specialization and explain how they can also be developed as “playground” for the SSH communities.

Victoria Tsoukala, National Documentation Centre, Greece
Research and Education E-infrastructures in SSH in Greece. The Case of the National Documentation Centre (EkT)/NHRF
The presentation provides the highlights of the current situation regarding structural funding in the SSH in Greece for research and e-infrastructures. The core of the presentation focuses on the development of e-infrastructures for the SSH at the National Documentation Centre (EKT)/National Hellenic Research Foundation, as a successful example of the use of funds for national e-infrastructures that serve researchers and particularly those in the SSH. EKT is the national institution for the aggregation, documentation and dissemination of the research produced in Greece and is part of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. It develops its e-infrastructures largely with structural funds, while its strategic directions for growth and technological choices are defined on the basis of high standards of practice as accepted by specialized communities internationally. EKT’s activities are carefully directed towards serving the needs of researchers as well as the wider public in Greece and abroad, enabling e-science and facilitating development and innovation through the aggregation and dissemination of content topped with services. In realizing its mission EKT closely collaborates with the major research and memory institutions of the country. Major initiatives by the organization that affect research in the SSH in Greece will be presented such as the National Archive of PhD Theses, the ePublishing project, a new project on the Reference Index for the Publications in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and the National Index for Digitized Cultural Content. Successes, challenges, obstacles in acquiring funding and implementing projects, as well as goals for the future will be examined.

Jurgita Petrauskienė, Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA), Lithuania
The Lithuanian Smart Specialisation Strategy
This presentation briefly summarizes the preparation of Lithuanian Smart specialisation strategy (RIS3) with a special accent of SSH in the future development of the country. The official and formal start of the RIS3 preparation can be tracked back to 24 October 2012, when the Lithuanian Government updated the existing resolution “Integrated Science, Studies, Research and Business Centres”. It is planned that the process should come to an end in the first quarter of 2014. Our presentation focuses on the main results delivered so far – analysis of R&D and economical potential, analysis of global and national challenges, and the logic of Priority Area selection. The potential role of SSH is foreseen not only as one of the Priority Areas, but a horizontal approach as well. Finally, the logic of “priority implementation” is introduced with the two main questions:

1. What is the best way to use R&D potential of SSH in the context of RIS3?
2. What could be the input of SSH in fostering social innovation and economic competitiveness?