The international Baltic Sea research and development programme BONUS promoted resolute research collaboration for over a decade. Finnish researchers participated actively in the programme, coordinating consortia more often than any other member state. Finland also had the second most funded research partners of all the programme member states. The Academy of Finland funded the programme with a total of 6.3 million euros.
The impact of the research and development programme BONUS has been significant. It improved the quality of scientific research around the Baltic Sea, increased the number of publications on the Baltic Sea, and facilitated more international research collaboration. The research programme also promoted interdisciplinary research into solving environmental problems and sustainable development challenges.
A total of 48 international consortia were funded within the programme. They produced new information and advanced technological development around the Baltic Sea in the fields of social sciences, evolutionary biology, genetics, and environmental technology.
Eight EU member states participated in the programme (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany). Together with the European Commission, their national research funding agencies funded the programme with nearly 100 million euros. The programme was divided into five funding calls: Innovation 2014–2017, Viable ecosystem 2014–2018, Sustainable ecosystem services 2015–2018, Blue Baltic 2017–2020, and Synthesis 2018–2020.
One of the main challenges with research funding in the joint programme concerned the varying degree of funding from each member state and the sufficiency of their national budget for the desired number of projects.
Image 1. Results have been published in many reviews from each of the BONUS programme’s five funding calls. An impact evaluation and several peer-reviewed publications have also been produced. The publications are available on the BONUS website BONUS EEIG (bonusportal.org).
Finns took initiative in research concerning the Baltic Sea
Compared with the other member states, Finnish researchers were highly successful in the BONUS programme calls. A total of 60 Finnish applicants were granted funding in 35 different funded consortia, which is the majority of all funded consortia. Finnish researchers were funded with around 14 million euros, of which the Academy of Finland granted 6.3 million euros. Finland had the second most funded research partners – only Swedish applicants were granted more funding (77 partners).
The BONUS programme included various Finnish collaborators from 23 different organisations, such as the Finnish Environment Institute, the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and Åbo Akademi University. The Finnish Environment Institute succeeded very well in the calls with as many as five coordinated consortia. Finnish researchers contributed especially to themes concerning the organisation, operation and practical instruments of administration, as well as their development. Additionally, Finnish researchers collaborated on research themes concerning the risk assessment, analysis and administration of marine habitats, and the development of innovative and environmentally friendly measuring technologies.
Image 2. The image on the left shows the number of funded applicants per country. The image on the right shows the number of coordinators per country. Swedish applicants were granted the most funding, but Finns coordinated the most projects.
The consortia with Finnish partners were evenly distributed in the five calls. Although the budgets allocated for programme funding for Sweden, Denmark and Germany were in total clearly more significant than the Finnish budget, Finnish researchers succeeded in coordinating the most consortia (a total of 13 coordinators).
- The report is available in Finnish only: Suomalaisten menestyminen Itämeren tutkimus- ja innovaatio-ohjelmassa (BONUS)
The research and development programme BONUS promoted the implementation of common regulations and practices and developed administration to further the more sustainable use of resources within the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The Academy of Finland also participated in the BANOS project as an observer member (Towards a joint Baltic and North Sea research and Innovation programme). The project was a coordination and support measure funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme (2018–2021) and produced a research and innovation strategy for research on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The strategy will be utilised in the European blue economy partnership funded by the Horizon Europe programme. The Academy of Finland will participate in the programme together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.