Photo credits: Anna Kiiski

My CBC Story – Anna Kiiski

Executive director 
Kotka Maritime Research Association, Finland 

Anna Kiiski is a long-range professional when it comes to the international and cross-border cooperation, particularly in maritime safety and logistics and research of environmental impacts. As of 2005, she has worked with TEMPUS and ENPI CBC co-funded projects at the University of Helsinki (then Palmenia Centre for Research and Continuing Education) as the Environment Planner and in 2013, she joined the Kotka Maritime Research Centre (link) (later Merikotka). 

Today Anna leads Merikotka, which was founded in December 2005 by the initiative of the City of Kotka. All operations are based on academic research of leading Finnish universities and supported by the large consortium of national actors whom core expertise serve maritime related research, development and innovations. As the Executive Director of Kotka Maritime Research Association, an organization behind the Merikotka, Anna’s days are filled with organisational management and keeping up the dialog with the stakeholders and various networks. She is also committed to ensure that work done in the Merikotka is shared within the expert communities and for the wide audience.  

“I also like to participate to the project planning and development, which I find very interesting and motivating. Sharing ideas and brainstorming with the team and other experts is truly rewarding and helps me stay on the loop of maritime innovations”, says Anna. 

These efforts have paid off. Of all the project proposals, which Merikotka has submitted to the different financing instruments in 2018 (such as SRC funding, Horizon 2020, Baltic Sea Region, BONUS, ENI CBC, Central Baltic and ERDF programmes) 50 % has been successful and received grant. A good result does not come without hard work. As an average, one finalized project proposal with numerous contacts and meetings with the stakeholders and partners takes one year. On the other hand, especially Finnish-Russian project initiatives benefit of long-term relations with the partners and joint preparation have found fluent ways.  

The Research Association is an experienced lead partner and has managed many international cross-border cooperation projects, for example WINOIL, TOPCONS and RESCOP during the previous period and recently granted INFUTURE and SIMREC (link to Merikotka projects). What is currently new is that in the CBC project GET READY (link), the Association’s experts have an opportunity to learn what it is to be a partner.  

“We put full effort on everything we do, so being a partner is not a minor role for us. This experience is valued also in terms of learning experience that will give us deeper understanding of cross-border cooperation”, highlights Anna.  

 

Eyes on future 

Based on her own experiences, Anna wish to encourage young students interested on maritime and environment topics and gives good tips for the future professionals. Skill to combine academic work with the sense of understanding social environment and civil society is a valuable asset. For example, in Merikotka the will to embrace interdisciplinary working environment is really the basis in all positions. Cross-border cooperation, particularly with the Russian partners is exciting and interesting and open-minded persons manage well, even without language or cultural knowledge as a starting point. As Anna points out, “Academe meeting business may sometimes create challenges, and young researchers can face also dispute on their work. Learning interaction skills, and even the difficult situations may turn into fruitful experiences”. 

What is also interesting, is that the Merikotka has ambitious plans to widen the scope of maritime sustainability research. Upcoming years strengthen two viewpoints in their core fields of activities; role of human activities and financial/business aspects relating to the maritime safety and logistics and environmental impacts.  

New content needs also new partners, and Merikotka is widening its contacts. Opportunities to carry out high quality work at the European Union’s external border needs also financial resources, and there for the post 2020 period in the South-East Finland – Russia programme area is more that welcomed. Maritime cooperation at the Gulf of Finland benefits most of Finnish – Russian – Estonian cooperation and possibilities for the partner consortiums involving all three countries would guarantee also the best results.  

Editor: Sari Loisa