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Global Research Alliance

The research center of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Sankt Augustin / Birlinghoven will be hosting the annual meeting of the Global Research Alliance GRA from January 25 to 27, 2004, attended by representatives of nine of the world's leading applied research and development organizations.

The main topics on the agenda are to analyze the progress of recent water and energy projects and to draw up proposals for other projects aimed at improving significantly the quality of life in developing countries. In this era of globalization, adequate solutions to many urgent problems have not been found yet: Each year, 1.7 million people die because of contaminated water supplies and poor sanitation - nine out of ten of the victims are children. The Internet provides links between 120 million computers, but its accessibility is limited to less than two percent of the world population. This "digital divide" emphasizes the inequality between industrialized and developing nations. Just looking at these two examples, it is evident that tremendous research and development efforts are still needed to bring about effective improvements. Inspired by the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the founding members of the GRA set themselves the goal of serving the social welfare of communities throughout the world by forming an international network of leading research and development organizations. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is represented on the GRA management committee by Professor Dennis Tsichritzis, who holds the post of senior vice-president for international affairs and chief information officer (CIO). "In an attempt to deal with the consequences of increasing globalization and the many global problems facing developing countries in particular, our initiative started out with a workshop in Pretoria in April 2002, the results of which were published as a joint statement, the Pretoria Declaration," explains Professor Tsichritzis. "It is our common objective to work together on major projects of substantial benefit to society. Finding optimal local solutions to global problems depends on the availability of a global knowledge base." The Pretoria Declaration contains five guiding principles adopted by the international partners: to undertake large impact projects for the benefit of society, to create synergy by pooling the energies, skills and facilities of participants, to seek and secure new global funding possibilities, to promote projects with high innovation content, and to develop global knowledge networks for industry and industrial sectors in order to enhance their competitiveness. Nine months after reaching agreement on the guiding principles and fundamental aims of the Pretoria Declaration, the member organizations formally launched the Global Research Alliance at an official meeting in New Delhi in January 2003. The major topics of interest were defined as water, health, energy, transport and the digital divide. The meeting at St. Augustin marks the end of the preparatory phase. It is here that the basis will be prepared for concrete projects and funding possibilities will be discussed. "The GRA has developed at an extraordinary rate," declares Professor Tsichritzis. "Especially when you consider that it consists of partners from nine nations and different continents with often widely diverging cultures and value systems." When carrying out its mission, the GRA can count on the knowledge and expertise of 50 000 researchers working in various scientific and technological disciplines, spread throughout a considerable number of developing countries and industrial nations. This offers a rare and unique opportunity for fruitful collaboration extending beyond the constraints of existing cultural boundaries. GRA activities are coordinated by its Nerve Center in South Africa. The first projects are beginning to show positive results. One of the earliest examples is a project to develop a strategic planning base for the use of water resources in a specific region of Asia. Other projects on the drawing-board include the evaluation the World Bank water and sanitation program, a major road-building project in the People's Republic of China, and the development of an environmental strategy plan for Malaysia. ,http://www.research-alliance.net/ (GRA) member organizations: Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation ,http://www.batelle.org/ (Battelle), USA,http://www.csir.res.in/ (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research India),http://www.csir.co.za/ (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research South Africa),http://www.uk.teknologisk.dk/ (Danish Technological Institute) ,http://www.fraunhofer.de/ (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft),http://www.tno.nl/ (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research),http://www.sirim.my/ (SIRIM Berhad), Malaysia,http://www.vtt.fi/ (Technical Research Centre of Finland)Contact:,Dr. Eckart Bierdumpel ,Telefon +49 / 22 41 / 14-22 56 ,Fax +49 / 22 41 / 14-22 88 ,E-mail: bierduempel@zv.fraunhofer.de Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft ,European and International Business Development ,Multinational Networking ,Schloss Birlinghoven ,D-53754 Sankt Augustin Further Informations:,http://www.research-alliance.net/ (GRA)

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