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FP7

ESASTAP PLUS Report Summary

Project reference: 312015
Funded under: FP7-INCO

Final Report Summary - ESASTAP PLUS (Strengthening Technology, Research and Innovation Cooperation between Europe and South Africa)

Executive Summary:
ESASTAP Plus built upon the work performed by two previous FP7 INCO projects (ESASTAP2 and SAccess). Both projects were aimed at supporting European – South African cooperation on Science and Technology. The new BILAT initiative identified two new elements which would be included in the contextual design of the new projects, a) Coordination of the EU and MS&AC bilateral cooperation, and b) Investing in innovation for enhanced cooperation.

As such the work-plan was strategically designed to address all the call requirements but also rationalizing the work by grouping in 4 distinct layers. These include:
- Enhancing SA-EU Science and Technology cooperation through participation in reciprocal programmes.
- Coordination of the EU and MS&AC bilateral cooperation.
- Coordination of the EU and MS&AC bilateral cooperation.
- Dissemination and outreach.

Many activities have been carried out and many positive outputs have been produced during the project’s lifetime. These include:
- A Horizon 2020 NCP network has been set up and is fully operational.
- South Africa’s strong FP participation rates has been maintained and Horizon 2020 has been promoted effectively.
- A strong identification/mapping of the innovation landscape was achieved and several activities have been implemented to showcase in Europe and South Africa respectively the potential that exists for cooperation through innovation partnerships.
- A report listing ongoing bilateral programmes, and a Roadmap for a coordinated action of EU, and MS&AC in S&T with South Africa has been produced.
- ESASTAP Plus has managed to maintain a strong presence in South Africa.

The main impacts of the project include:
- ESASTAP Plus supported the policy dialogue and contributed to the definition and implementation of joint strategic agendas for research, development and innovation.
- ESASTAP Plus contributed to the stimulation of interest especially among young scientists for European programmes and continuation of successful participation rates. Brain-drain to foreign universities, institutes and companies has been minimized.
- A wider positive economic effect is envisaged through the active involvement of the partnership in promoting and supporting innovation cooperation between Europe and South Africa.
- Establishment of the South Africa EEN Node is expected to boost partnerships between the EU and SA.

Project Context and Objectives:
ESASTAP Plus has been will build upon the work performed by two previous FP7 INCO projects (ESASTAP2 and SAccess). Both projects were aimed at supporting European – South African cooperation on Science and Technology.

As identified in Annex I to the Grant Agreement the objectives of ESASTAP Plus are in line with the FP7 2012 Work Programme for International Cooperation which elaborates on the endeavours and activities the BILAT projects should align with.

As such ESASTAP Plus had four key objectives in order to enhance South African – EU cooperation in science, technology and innovation:
• Enrich the science, technology and innovation policy dialogue
• Promote strategic cooperation under the main instruments, chiefly the Framework Programmes:
• Better coordinate and exploit synergy between different EU and national programmes
• Expand cooperation to specifically address innovation partnerships

Below we list, and briefly discuss some of the main activities which are proposed in the technical annex and which target to support the four project objectives.
• Support to enrich the South Africa – EU policy dialogue by providing input related to science, technology and innovation cooperation, including proposals for joint research and innovation agendas.
• Engage in a structured, but also flexible manner with the South Africa – EU Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee (JSTCC) and address activities specifically requested/recommended by the JSTCC.
• Monitor and analyse Framework Programme participation. Collect statistics on South African participation in chiefly the FP, and undertake a qualitative analysis to inform future cooperation strategies to maximize mutual benefit. The potential for ESASTAP Plus’s policy interventions to yield impact will, thus, be maximised by this evidence-based input.
• Promote South African Framework Programme participation through a strategic approach, specifically targeting those sectors of the South African research and innovation community, which have not yet engaged fully with the Framework Programme. The aim is to mobilize those South African research and innovation actors which could best contribute to enhancing cooperation on shared priority areas.
• Ensure reciprocity in cooperation through promotion of European participation in South African programmes. This builds on the work of the SACCESS project
• Undertake extensive networking through the organisation of high-level targeted events aimed at bringing together new South African and European cooperation partners as well as to disseminate the output of previous collaborative efforts and encourage the take-up of project results
• Support the creation of Horizon 2020 National Contact Points network and provide appropriate support to enhance its effectiveness
• Exploit synergy between different programmes and policy interventions to exploit synergies between the EU’s different cooperation instruments with South Africa relevant to research and innovation
• Examine the feasibility of setting up a joint liaison office which would represent the interests of several European research and technology organisations.
• Promote twinning between European and South African organisations
• Undertake a targeted analysis of the South African innovation system, specifically with regard to opportunities and challenges for innovation partnerships with Europe
• Encourage common understanding and cooperation on key framework conditions (e.g. intellectual property management) which are essential for the deployment of technologies

Regarding the project, the main challenge was to establish a strong and vivid communication channel and collaboration culture with relevant stakeholders and initiatives, with common/shared objectives and focus to allow for information sharing and synergy creation.
The main milestone of the project was to support and enhance the Science, Technology and Innovation cooperation (strong dimensions of the Europe 2020 Strategy, Innovation Union Flagship Initiative) with South Africa. Thus it was important to establish and maintain communication channels with the different stakeholders participating in the bilateral dialogue between Europe and South Africa. In addition, it was a main endeavour of ESASTAP Plus to be structured in such a way to allow for the necessary level of flexibility to respond to specific needs of the dialogue and provide the necessary support and feedback.  

Project Results:
The work that was planned for the duration of the project was focused on achieving the four main project objectives. Many activities have been carried out and many positive outputs have been produced during the project’s lifetime.

NCPs
The project supports the creation and the enhancement of the NCP network in South Africa. Currently, a Horizon 2020 NCP network has been set up and is fully operational.

Maintaining South Africa’s strong FP participation rates
A main challenge of the project through its implementation of targeted activities was the identification of the most suitable channels to reach out to the advanced South African research community and make sure that the necessary agility of researches in Framework Programmes is achieved. South Africa was very successful with regards to participation on FP7 and thus it was of paramount importance to maintain the researchers’ ability to cooperate successfully with European counterparts. To this end numerous events (reported in detail in WP1) have been realised.
In addition, the project has implemented specific events targeting young, less-experienced, researchers. Such events offering first hand information on the EU’s main financial instrument for cooperation as well as information on modalities for participation. These events aim to instigate your researchers to start applying the right methodologies and getting involved with the right networks that will allow for participation in research projects.

Emphasis on innovation
The project partners have managed to create a real interest of stakeholders with regards to innovation. Numerous activities (events, twinning activities, innovation awards) have focused towards creating a momentum of promoting and supporting innovation cooperation between Europe and South Africa. Not only a strong identification/mapping of the innovation landscape was achieved (A report on innovation landscape in SA and analysis of the innovation framework conditions, and a Report detailing the match-making process on specific sectors), but several efforts have been implemented to showcase in Europe and South Africa respectively the potential that exists for cooperation through innovation partnerships.

Enhanced cooperation with MS/AC
The project has also targeted its activities towards stronger cooperation between European Member States and Associated Countries with South Africa. Events have been implemented to discuss the various views and interests for enhancing coordination of different South Africa - EU science and technology cooperation programmes. Multiple models of cooperation originating from bilateral cooperation agreement with a number of countries (e.g. UK, Germany, and Switzerland) are being presented and reviewed. The project efforts resulted in a report listing ongoing bilateral programmes, and a Roadmap for a coordinated action of EU, and MS&AC in S&T with South Africa.

Maintaining strong visibility
ESASTAP Plus has managed to maintain a strong presence in South Africa, picking up successfully and continuing its strong reputation since the previous projects ESASTAP and ESASTAP2. The project has thus maintained the respect and acknowledgement of the South African community when it comes to issues related with information on cooperation the EU. In turn the same visibility stands for European researchers that access a well informed portal to access opportunities for cooperation with and through South African initiatives. The website (which is a continuation of the existing website of the previous projects) was revamped at large when the project started. The new design maintains all those distinctive characteristics of the older website to assure familiarity, but at the same time the menus and information tabs have been updated and restructured to assure easier access to information and a more user-friendly interface.

Project Dissemination and Branding
It was an opportunity for ESASTAP Plus to build on the visibility and wider recognition that the previous ESASTAP projects had created. Thus it was a strategic decision of the project partners to keep and further build on the ESASTAP brand name. Promotional material such as (leaflets, roll-ups, give-away gifts, pens etc) has been created and was widely used in all project events.
ESASTAP Plus invested in a substantial electronic presence through active social media interference. LinkedIn Group and Twitter accounts were created. In assessing the work to-date the twitter account is more active than that of LinkedIn and this due to significantly more effort being invested in the former tool.
In addition, the project utilized a mix of dissemination methods aiming to reach a broad range of stakeholders, as well as the society which included a newsletter and an email promotion facility. Recipients of both the email update function as well as the newsletter received information on past activities, new project developments as well as upcoming events. These were also promoted through the social media channels.

Potential Impact:
ESASTAP Plus implemented a wide range of activities that focused on appealing to different stakeholders including researchers, SMEs and policy makers. The results and impact of such activities span across the whole research and innovation value chain:

Impact in Policy Terms
ESASTAP Plus supported the policy dialogue and contributes to the definition and implementation of joint strategic agendas for research, development and innovation, through:
• Ensuring a continuous follow-up on the evolutions of the EU-South Africa ST&I policy dialogue and initiatives to give quality and relevant feedback to the policy level
• Offering quality feedback to the JSTCC with evidence-based information
• Adapting the project activities to the EU-South Africa policy discussion
• The organisation of experts meetings in close cooperation with the EC and South African representatives

Socio-Economic Impact
The potential socio-economic impact of information and dissemination activities on Horizon 2020 is significant both in the short and long term. Specific activities targeted at promoting the EUs main funding instrument for research and innovation cooperation include a large number of dedicated information dissemination events as well as awareness raising events to explain the particular participation modalities. In addition a new NCP network has been set up and is fully operational with the constant support of ESASTAP Plus.
Such activities stimulate interest especially among young scientists. In addition, such activities guarantee that researchers with experience in previous framework programmes will maintain their agility and thus secure successful participation rates. Finally, it is expected that brain-drain to foreign universities, institutes and companies will be kept at a minimum.
Another important element which is worth underlining is the wider positive economic effect that is envisaged through the active involvement of the partnership in promoting and supporting innovation cooperation between Europe and South Africa. ESASTAP Plus has already performed a number of outstanding and novel activities which include a comprehensive mapping of the innovation landscape in South Africa (ways of presenting this online are currently being sought) and a twinning scheme for Technology Transfer Professionals. The latter (currently being implemented) is expected to result in enhanced knowledge exchanges and increased understanding of methodological processes on innovation and entrepreneurship. ESASTAP Plus also undertook an analysis of matchmaking and brokerage activities with regards to three distinct fields. Based on such analysis (report already submitted) ESASTAP Plus will now focus on actively pursuing linking and matchmaking events between European and South African interested parties.
Furthermore, ESASTAP Plus partners kept monitoring all activities and opportunities for cooperation through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). European partners including FORTH and APRE have long experience with the Enterprise Europe Network and strong bonds with key stakeholders. Constant flow of information on events and brokerage opportunities relevant to the South African context and assessment of possibilities for participation and joint actions took place. One of the key considerations of the partnership was information and advice on the potential of establishing an EEN node in South Africa.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) together with key stakeholders and entities submitted a proposal to host a South African node of the Europe Enterprise Network (EEN) in March 2015. The proposal was positively evaluated and a formal launch of EENSA was announced at the ESASTAP Plus dinner which was held on 21 October 2015. The DST is currently finalising the EEN agreement and implementation plan.

List of Websites:
http://www.esastap.org.za/

Related information

Contact

Papatheodorou, Zinovia (LEAR - Head of contracts department)
Tel.: +30 2810391522
Fax: +30 2810 391555
E-mail
Record Number: 182395 / Last updated on: 2016-05-13
Information source: SESAM