The ALCUE NET project was established as an operational instrument for the implementation and scaling-up of EU-CELAC dialogue on science, technology and innovation (STI), as a Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation (JIRI). Most of the project’s activities were focused on the decisions of the EU-CELAC Senior Official’s Meetings (SOMs) held since 2012. “The main goal achieved was the support to the political dialogue in the Senior Officials’ Meetings; as well as creating spaces for bi-regional dialogue in the topics of the JIRI workgroups,” explains ALCUE NET coordinator María Alejandra Davidziuk, who is also in charge of the Liaison Office ARG-EU. The work helps to overcome the potential barriers and national/regional limitations that could impede collaboration. EU and CELAC, the world over Project efforts returned numerous and wide-ranging results that will continue to promote and facilitate EU-CELAC cooperation. The CELAC NCP Network was created to enhance and support the National Contact Points (NCPs) and Liaison Offices. ALCUE NET prepared five EU-CELAC SOM Concept Notes, and implemented a Technical Secretariat as a supporting mechanism for SOM coordination. Strategic synergies with new initiatives, related bi-regional projects as well as European Commission Directorates were reinforced and new ones launched. Jointly organised activities were held with initiatives active on the world stage, including ERANet-LAC, EU-LAC Health, CORDEX-LAC, EUROCLIMA, ENSOCIO-LA, BIODiversa, INCONTACT 2020, Latin America Liaison Offices with the EU (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico), and other cooperation units in those countries that do not have cooperation agreements with the EU. During its life cycle, the ALCUE NET project was able to adapt its activities and structures to continue giving answers to the needs of the bi-regional dialogue. The implementation of the Common Research Area (CRA) has generated new working groups and new areas of cooperation and demands. Setting research priorities “ALCUE NET thematic actions particularly benefited from the links and synergies created with all these initiatives (in which most project partners actively participated) and newcomer countries from both regions,” states Davidziuk. Further, the institution of bi-regional thematic platforms (community of stakeholders) mobilised over 2 000 R&I players, including stakeholders from public and private sectors. “More than 45 priority research topics were identified among the 4 thematic areas… A total of 28 thematic reports were prepared,” Davidziuk says. “It is no coincidence that since the ALCUE NET project has been completed, seven flagships have been launched in H2020 (four Research and Innovation Actions, two Innovation Actions and one Coordination and Support Action) that offer calls for 2018 and 2019, where proposals containing institutions of CELAC as partners of the consortium will be prioritised.” A map was developed of current and past bilateral and bi-regional thematic projects, institutions and researchers to monitor progress in the bi-regional cooperation. Project members also prepared a foresight study – ‘Scenario-VISION 2030’. Davidziuk explains that this exercise, commissioned by Senior Officials, was “to develop scenarios for bi-regional cooperation towards 2030 as a strategic vision to strengthen and increase bi-regional cooperation and as a key input to the SOM in its decision-making process.” Leveraging international support for national gain Other project activities included building up and expanding the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) NCP Network to help build national information systems. Part of this involved training through NCP annual workshops, technical assistance, and awareness raising and dissemination activities. ALCUE NET organised 9 video conferences, attended by 808 stakeholders from LAC countries, and 20 training workshops in 15 LAC countries that attracted the participation of 1 744 regional stakeholders. Senior Officials from 18 LAC countries have already signed a Letter of Interest that aims at achieving sustainability and continuous strengthening of the LAC NCP Network. Efforts have also resulted in improved LAC participation in Horizon 2020 and other related programmes, and increased collaboration between European and LAC researchers through the promotion of consortium building. “ALCUE NET has created a community of R&D stakeholders who now participate actively in project activities and the preparation of related documents,” Davidziuk emphasises. The project’s impact on international social and economic challenges is evidenced beyond its capacity to operate as an intermediary for STI policy dialogue between the EU and CELAC. It also served to “broadly expand international cooperation opportunities under H2020 and other EU programmes. … It has provided a structure that enhances and continues to support dialogues between both regions,” she concludes.
ALCUE NET, LAC, CELAC, bi-regional cooperation, Latin American and Caribbean States, strategic cooperation