A fundamental aspect of European research policy is the establishment of cross-border cooperation, not just within the European Union but across the globe. This is why an ambitious project to connect European researchers with their counterparts in Canada was recently launched.
In particular, the ERA-CAN+ project, which kicked off in October 2013, aims to identify possible collaborative opportunities within Horizon 2020, the EU's Eighth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The creation of global research networks enables scientists to work with the very best in their field, make more efficient use of their resources and above all increase the final impact of their projects.
The number of Canadians participating in European Framework Programme projects has been steadily increasing over the years. FP7 (2007-2013) involved a total of 228 Canadian researchers and research institutions, who participated in 187 projects. This is more than double the 97 Canadians who participated in FP6 (2002-2006).
'Canada is a valued partner for the European Union in a wide range of cooperation areas and our partnership in research and innovation is particularly strong,' said EU Ambassador Marie-Anne Coninsx recently. 'ERA-CAN+ will further contribute to deepen the already existing strong ties. In particular, this joint initiative will be instrumental in facilitating enhanced cooperation in the new mutually agreed priority areas of arctic and marine research.'
The project will promote science, technology and innovation collaboration between Canada and the EU through policy dialogues, research exchanges and information sharing about funding opportunities. Some of these sessions will be conducted via video conferencing. Research organisations and universities are invited to host information sessions.
ERA-CAN+ will also play a vital role in raising awareness of research and innovation opportunities; many researchers are simply unaware of the possibilities for cross-border cooperation that exist. The project will also attempt to help scientists and researchers to make the jump from the laboratory to the market. Commercialising research results remains a weakness of European research, which is something that Horizon 2020 aims to redress.
The consortium brings together seven leading associations and organisations for research, innovation and public policy discussions from across Canada and Europe. The Canadian partners are the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, and the Public Policy Forum.
The European partners are the Agenzia per la Promozione della Ricerca Europea in Italy, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France, the Project Management Agency at DLR in Germany, and the Zentrum für Soziale Innovation in Austria. The Italian partner will act as the coordinator for the project.
The ERA-CAN initiative was created to coincide with the launch of Horizon 2020, and builds on two previous ERA-CAN projects that have made significant inroads in expanding Canadian and European research collaboration. With an expected budget of more than 70 billion between now and 2020, the programme aims to capitalise on science and technology to promote innovation-based economic growth.
The initiative also coincides with the recent signing of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement.