COST (European Co-operation in Science and Technology) is an EU funded pan European programme that enables researchers to set up their interdisciplinary research networks in Europe and beyond. The programme was established in 1971 in an intergovernmental mode. It will be implemented by a member state owned organisation i.e. the COST Association under a Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA). This FPA will outline an action plan for the full duration of Horizon Europe until 2027 describing the strategic objectives and key milestones for the implementation of COST. This FPA is based on Article 195 of the Financial Regulation that allows the use of a named beneficiary for activities with specific characteristics that require a particular type of body on account of its technical competence, its high degree of specialisation or its administrative powers, on condition that the activities concerned do not fall within the scope of a call for proposals.
While the networks are open to international partners from outside Europe, COST provides a unique low entry mechanism for researchers from countries catching up in the R&I in the EU and from its Eastern and Southern neighbours while remaining open for researchers from all European countries and international partners. For many researchers (especially at the beginning of their career) from widening countries, the participation in COST networking actions is the sole opportunity for getting in touch with European and international research initiatives and to benefitting from exposure to leading scientists in their field. The approach of COST is not funding research itself but pooling resources and research results by networking and hence upscaling.
The specific objectives of this support mechanism are to:
- Increase participation of widening countries (inclusiveness target countries (ITC) according to COST internal terminology) in European research activities and higher success rates;
- Contribute towards improving the R&I culture of the widening country (indicators such as research intensity, innovation performance, values towards R&I);
- Improve scientific capabilities of widening countries to increase their chances in participating and successfully obtaining competitive funding from the EU and other international sources;
- Trigger scientific breakthroughs and new research strands by pooling interdisciplinary resources across Europe;
- Boost the career of young and female researchers by networking and brain circulation in line with ERA principles and the development of leadership skills;
- Strengthen the research management capacities and administrative skills of participating researchers;
- Develop operational synergies with other widening actions and create links to thematic parts of Horizon Europe, notably Pillar 2.