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Bilateral Support for the International Linkage with Kina

Final Report Summary - BILAT SILK (Bilateral Support for the International Linkage with Kina)

Executive Summary:
The overall objective of the Bilat Silk project was to strengthen the science and technology cooperation between the EU and China. The project was a combination of two parts, one focusing on encouraging Chinese researchers to participate in the seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the other a more long-term strategic policy.
In order to raise awareness of FP7 in China, a number of different information activities took place within the project. The most important were the nine information events that were arranged in strategic Chinese regions. In addition, newsletters and FP7 information packages were produced and distributed among Chinese researchers. This was also complemented by a dedicated Chinese FP7 website. To facilitate direct contact with Chinese researchers an FP7 helpdesk was established.
The development of Regional Contact Points (RCP) was considered to be of the highest priority as they are closer to the Chinese research constituency in their respective regions, and in hindsight more resources should have been directed to regional capacity building. The major barrier for Chinese researchers to participate in FP7 projects is to find and join suitable consortia. There is a need for a partner search system that works well, and to that end it is imperative to have continuous improvement of the National Contact Point (NCP) and RCP organisations. Furthermore, returning Chinese researchers were found to be important interlocutors for EU-China cooperation.
Methodologies and practices for Technology Assessment (TA) were discussed in workshops and roundtables with key representatives from TA institutes in the EU and China. This analysis led to the foundation of a strong TA network between the EU and China, with activities that will continue after the completion of the Bilat Silk project.
In the end, the identification of research priorities within Bilat Silk did prove to be too problematic. This highlights the difficulties in cooperating with third countries in these types of projects, mainly due to the fact that the priority-setting in the Framework Programme is a political top-down process and does not take into account the priorities of countries outside of the EU. The approach used in the Bilat Silk project did, however, encourage individual researchers to propose their own research fields, e.g. a bottom-up approach which presented valuable insights and information for the future.
The overall conclusion is that in many cases BILAT projects would benefit from having more focused objectives and, if necessary, being divided into two separate projects; one focusing on the practical NCP oriented activities and one on policy.