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Europe-Latin America Network for boosting international cooperation in the field of Life Sciences

Final Report Summary - ELAN2LIFE (Europe-Latin America Network for boosting international cooperation in the field of Life Sciences)

ELAN2LIFE was a specific support action initiated by a consortium of four European and five Latin American (LA) organisations (from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru) within the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) Thematic Programme Health. The overall objective of the project was to stimulate and enhance international cooperation in the field of life sciences and health between Europe and LA countries. This should be achieved by creating in this region a network of information nodes able to carry out coherent and sustainable system of actions aimed at raising public awareness of cooperative opportunities, by supporting and facilitating the inclusion of LA research teams into European consortia, and also by promoting best European practices of research and project management in the LA partner countries.

The first project year focused on the setup of the network of Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) information nodes. The LA partners were supported by the European partners through a targeted training programme, including visits to National Contact Points in Germany, France and Spain as well as to the European Commission and other relevant institutions in Europe. All infonodes were fully operational by October 2007. Furthermore, dissemination strategies had been developed, and through flyers, newsletters, websites and direct mailings to the scientific community in their country, the infonodes reached out to a large audience. The second project year, starting together with the new FP7, focused on the pilot operation of the existing information nodes. Numerous information events were held to inform Latin American scientists about EU funding opportunities for cooperation with European partners, with a special focus on the life sciences sector. The infonodes were also able to provide individualised support, ranging from general advise over the phone or through videoconferences to personal support in writing FP7 proposals.

During the project lifetime, three of the five LA partner countries have created official National Contact Points for Health (Argentina, Chile, and Mexico), and another one is in the process of doing so (Brazil). While the Peruvian infonode had to cease its activities, mainly due to political instabilities, and the future of the Chilean node after the end of ELAN2LIFE is uncertain, the other nodes show strong sustainability of tools and knowledge generated. The Argentine National Contact Point has been created within the ELAN2LIFE partner institution CONICET, and ELAN2LIFE personnel has been transferred to the Department of International Relations at the Ministry of Science and Technology. The new Mexican National Contact Point will use the database created by ELAN2LIFE Mexico and make it publicly accessible through their website. The Brazilian ELAN2LIFE partner institution Fiocruz will continue the work started under the project and is in the process of developing several regional health National Contact Points, in order to be able to provide services to scientists in all areas of the vast country. LA participation in EU projects has been clearly increasing over the project lifetime: in the second Health call, more than 80 proposals have been submitted with participation of Argentina or Brazil alone, and the number of Health projects with LA participation has already surpassed the number of projects in all FP6. Cooperation between several LA project partners and the European coordinator will continue, with further activities promoting and supporting international cooperation in the field of life sciences and health between Europe and LA countries, and the group will stay represented on the web through the joint website, http://www.elan2life.net.

Through dissemination events, workshops and information days, ELAN2LIFE has directly reached more than 1 000 LA scientists, and has been continuously informing about the same number of scientists through newsletters and mailings. While project activities have not in all countries lead to sustainable structures which will remain functional after the end of the project, they have clearly reached a very large audience, raising the awareness for EU funding opportunities for Latin American researchers and contributing to the increased participation of ELAN2LIFE partner countries under FP7. In the second half of the project, activities have also been extended to Colombia, which approached the project asking for support, showing a clear dedication and ambitious plans to also become a key player in EU-LA collaboration. Four of the ELAN2LIFE partners will furthermore stay connected though a new strategic FP7 project (EUCO-Net, please see http://www.euco-net.eu online), aiming at the integration of LA ideas and impulses into future community research in the area of infectious diseases.

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