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Internationalisation of Finnish Public Research Organisations. Dr. Antti Pelkonen Senior Scientist , VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland China-OECD Roundtable on Innovation Policies Beijing, 18 October 2011

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internationalisation of finnish public research organisations

Internationalisation of Finnish Public Research Organisations

Dr. Antti Pelkonen

Senior Scientist , VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

China-OECD Roundtable on Innovation Policies

Beijing, 18 October 2011

Based on Loikkanen, T., Hyytinen, K., Konttinen, J. & Pelkonen, A.: Internationalisation of Finnish Public Research Organisations – Current State and Future Perspectives. Advisory Board for Sectoral Research 3/2010.

  • Finnish economy and innovation system in a nutshell
  • Public research organisations (PROs) in Finland
  • Internationalisation of Finnish PROs
  • Conclusions
the finnish economy and innovation system in a nutshell
The Finnish economy and innovation system in a nutshell
  • Finland is a small, export-driven open economy in the Northern Europe
    • Forest and metal industries the traditional key economic sectors
    • Strong rise of the ICT sector driven by Nokia in the 1990s
    • In the 2000s all key economic sectors facing important challenges: growing need for systemic changes in the economy
  • Finnish national innovation system
    • 4.0 % of GDP used in R&D, second highest in the OECD countries after Sweden (in 2009)
    • Internationalisation is an important challenge for the whole innovation system
public research organisations in finland missions and tasks
Public research organisations in Finland – Missions and tasks
  • 19 PROs operating in 8 administrative sectors
  • PROs are very diverse in their size, focus, and activities
  • Core missions
    • To produce and transfer knowledge to support decision-making
    • To carry out strategic research to sustain the high quality of their applied research services
    • Sector and organisation specific functions defined in acts of PROs
finnish pros funding and organisation
Finnish PROs – Funding and organisation
  • Funding from several sources: directly from budget, income from services, competition-based research funding
    • Share of direct budget funding decreased
    • PROs acquire increasingly competition-based research funding (45 % of all R&D funding in PROs; nearly 70 % in the most market-oriented PROs)
    • This has challenged them to develop service culture and customer driven activities
  • PROs organised according to sectoral and administrative structures but research needs are increasingly horizontal, crossing sectoral borders
internationalisation of pros driving forces and rationales
Internationalisation of PROs – Driving forces and rationales
  • Important socio-economic challenges (climate change, necessity of ne.w energy sources etc.) are considered as the most important driver
  • Internationalisation of research and innovation itself: open innovation, global networks and acquisition of R&D services from global markets
  • Public funding to PROs is expected to decrease
  • Scientific rationale of internationalisation: advance of science is based on international collaboration.
  • Carrying out the official tasks of PROs also requires growing international collaboration.
current state of internationalisation in finnish pros
Current state of internationalisation in Finnish PROs
  • Internationalisation considered as an important strategic aspect in most PROs, yet the importance varies across PROs. Internationalisation is less relevant for those whose activity area is very domestic.
  • Overall level of internationalisation still relatively modest, e.g.:
    • The volume of international funding is still rather low, on average around 7 per cent (15 % at highest). In the 2000s the volume has increased in most PROs, mainly from EU-sources (EU FPs).
    • Expert mobility: in most Finnish PROs the proportion of foreign staff is between 1 and 4 per cent of the whole staff (in some over 20 %).
  • In many PROs the challenge now is to mainstream internationalisation; thus far it has been limited to small part of the institutions and their staff.
international research collaboration of finnish pros
International research collaboration of Finnish PROs
  • Finnish PROs have close links to global scientific and expert communities
    • Extensive collaboration in scientific publishing, in particular with US, Sweden, UK and Germany
  • Almost all PROs have long-term research cooperation with the Nordic countries and Russia, and with countries with large research systems (e.g. Germany, France, UK)
  • Half of them have established collaboration in the USA
  • Countries with the biggest potential for growing future collaborationare India, Japan, China,Australia andsome European countries(e.g. Portugal)
how to promote internationalisation
How to promote internationalisation?

Promoting outward mobility of own staff is considered as the most important method to support internationalisation: financial support, language and culture training, incentives in terms of employment, communication.

Framework contracts with foreign institutes also important.

Recruiting international top-level professionals: challenging but may be very influential.

However, requires an attractive and high-quality research community, good physical environment (laboratory), well-know international reputation of the PRO, flexibility in terms of practical working conditions and good personal connections and networks.

The most effective method for promoting internationalisation is to maintain a high-quality research environment

  • PROs are primarily national actors, but operating increasingly internationally. Internationalisation challenges the legitimacy of national funding and policy.
    • Need for evidence of national benefits of PROs’ international activities
  • Information about internationalisation should be gathered and disseminated more systematically and extensively to support monitoring, target setting and policy-making.
  • In the context of increasinginternationalisation, the (Finnish) PROsneed...
    • ...a common proactive strategy which allows them …
    • form strong, multidisciplinary critical massesin order to be...
    • ... competitivein the `internal´ European applied research markets and …
    • ... capable to search for science-based solutions to grand socio-economic challenges in global markets of applied research.