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Latin America, Caribbean and European Union Network on Research and Innovation

Final Report Summary - ALCUE NET (Latin America, Caribbean and European Union Network on Research and Innovation)

Executive Summary:
ALCUE NET was a European Commission co-funded project (CSA) within the International Cooperation action under the Capacities Programme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Its main objective was to establish a bi-regional platform for the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-CELAC) that would bring together players involved in the orientation, funding and implementation of Research and Innovation, as well as other relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors and the civil society, in an effort to support the international Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy and Innovation Union Flagship Initiative.

The ALCUE NET Project intended to be a result- and impact-oriented project. Throughout its five years of life the project has been implemented and planned as an important support mechanism to the EU-CELAC policy dialogue on R&I. Most of the activities performed during the implementation of the project have been focused on the decisions of the EU-CELAC SOMs held since 2012 and on providing relevant input and recommendations to the subsequent meetings.

A bi-regional consortium, which was coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of Argentina through the Liaison Office of STI AR-EU, brought together 19 partner institutions, 11 from CELAC and 8 from Europe. The consortium has been working to increase and coordinate this cooperation effort by facilitating the participation of the R&I community from both regions and by helping to overcome potential barriers and national/regional limitations for the success of such collaboration. From the bi-regional political dialogue point of view, the project was originally conceived as a useful operational instrument to follow up decisions about the implementation and scaling-up of the long standing EU-CELAC dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation and the implementation of the Joint Initiative during 2013-2017, reflecting the suggestions and recommendations of the Senior Official Meetings, with focus on the following priorities: i) Energy; ii) Information and Communications Technology; iii) Bioeconomy; iv) Biodiversity and Climate Change.

Given its flexibility, the project was able to continue supporting new pathways for bi-regional cooperation. Over the years, the ALCUE NET project channelled the new priorities and objectives first introduced by the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation (JIRI) and subsequently by the Common Research Area (CRA). The CRA was announced at the EU-CELAC Summit in June 2015 and adopted at the 5th EU-CELAC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the JIRI of March 2016 with the aim of further strengthening the bi-regional partnership in R&I by synchronizing the manifold and various activities conducted by many different parties in both regions under three pillars: “mobility of researchers”, “international outreach of research infrastructures” and “jointly addressing global challenges”. The ALCUE NET Project promptly adopted this new scope and put in place concrete initiatives and mechanisms for the efficient implementation of the CRA, which are: the launch of a Research Infrastructures (RI) working group to support policy coordination and exchange information on RI; discussions about the development of EU and CELAC mobility portals, building on the existing EURAXESS Network and portal; agreement on targeted research and innovation actions for bi-regional cooperation in the area of health (non-communicable chronic diseases), climate action and sustainable urbanisation. In this regard, the adoption of the CRA in 2016 caused the project to reorient its activities due to the emergence of new Working Groups.


During its lifetime, ALCUE NET has contributed to enhancing cooperation between both regions. The Project has built on the experiences and results of previous and ongoing bi-regional projects under the FP7 and afterwards H2020 initiatives, taking into account and promoting complementarities with activities carried out under other EU programmes, notably those related to external policies. As the bi-regional partnership evolved over the years, all the efforts conducted under the ALCUE NET project have resulted in main inputs for the SOMs and Thematic Working Groups. The project has implemented a Technical Secretariat as a supporting mechanism for SOM coordination by contributing to the preparation of discussion documents and supporting material (agendas, Senior Officials participant list, concept notes, action plans, etc.).

ALCUE NET has set up bi-regional thematic platforms (community of stakeholders) that mobilized more than 2,000 Research and Innovation (R&I) players as well as other stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Regarding H2020, it surveyed common thematic priorities on selected areas as input for the implementation of Joint Calls. More than 45 priority research topics were identified among the four thematic areas. These consultations and consideration have been jointly prepared by the thematic working groups from the project and the SOM.

Other relevant result has been the building up and consolidation of a CELAC National Contact Points Network in order to help building national information systems. During the five years of the project, Senior Officials from 18 CELAC countries have already signed a Letter of Interest which aims at achieving sustainability and continuous strengthening of the CELAC NCP Network by the nomination of representatives in countries without NCP structure. The planning of training and awareness raising and dissemination activities was crucial for the expansion of the CELAC NCP Network: 9 video conferences with the participation of 808 stakeholders from CELAC countries and 20 Training Workshops in 15 CELAC countries with the participation of 1,744 stakeholders from the region.

The project impact so far is to have contributed to the STI policy dialogue between both regions. ALCUE NET has also created a community of R&D stakeholders who now participate actively in project activities and the preparation of related documents. The impact on the international social and economic challenges may be seen in the capacity of the project to operate not only as an intermediary for STI policy dialogue between both regions but also to broadly expand international cooperation opportunities under H2020 and other EU Programs. It must be noted that the project operated as a centralized mechanism to further disseminate and identify organizations and key players interested in developing new joint projects and initiatives.
Project Context and Objectives:
ALCUE NET was a FP7 Coordination Action co-funded by the European Commission within the International Cooperation action of the Capacities Programme. Its main objective was to establish a bi-regional platform for European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-CELAC) bringing together actors involved in Research and Innovation orientation, funding and implementation, as well as other relevant stakeholders from the public and private sector and the civil society, in an effort to support the international Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy and Innovation Union Flagship Initiative. Over the years, ALCUE NET project channelled the new priorities and objectives that were introduced first with the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation (JIRI) and after with the Common Research Area (CRA).The Platform, which was coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation through the Liaison Office of STI AR-EU, had 19 partner institutions, 11 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 8 from Europe.

Within its lifetime, ALCUE NET has contributed to enhance the cooperation between both regions. The bi-regional consortium has been working to increase and coordinate this cooperation effort by facilitating the participation of the R&I community from both regions and by helping to overcome potential barriers and national/regional limitations for the success of such collaboration. It was conceived, according to the Brussels EU-CELAC Summit Declaration in 2015, as a useful operational instrument and an instrument to follow up decisions about the implementation and scaling-up of the long standing EU-CELAC dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation and the implementation of the Joint Initiative during 2013-2017, reflecting the suggestions and recommendations of the Senior Official Meetings, with focus on the following priorities: i) Energy; ii) Information and Communications Technology; iii) Bioeconomy; iv) Biodiversity and Climate change.

As the bi-regional partnership evolved over the years, the Common Research Area was announced at the EU-CELAC Summit in June 2015 and adopted at the 5th EU-CELAC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the JIRI of March 2016 with the aim of further strengthening the bi-regional partnership in R&I by synchronizing the manifold and various activities conducted by many different parties in both regions under three pillars: “mobility of researchers”, “international outreach of research infrastructures” and “jointly addressing global challenges”.

The ALCUE NET Project has contributed to enhance cooperation between both regions by working in the above mentioned pillars. In this sense, and based on the support of the project, it has put in place concrete initiatives and mechanisms for the efficient implementation of the Common Research Area, which are: the launch of a Research Infrastructures (RI) working group to support policy coordination and exchange information on RI; discussions about the development of EU and CELAC mobility portals, building on the existing Euraxess network and portal; agreement on targeted research and innovation actions for bi-regional cooperation in the area of health (non-communicable chronic diseases), climate action and sustainable urbanisation. In this regard, the adoption of the Common Research Area (CRA) in 2016 caused the project to reorient its activities due to the emergence of new Working Groups.

Throughout its five years of life the project has been implemented and planned as an important support mechanism to the EU-CELAC policy dialogue on R&I. Most of the activities performed during the implementation of the project have been focused on the decisions of the EU-CELAC SOMs held since 2012 and on providing relevant input and recommendations to the subsequent meetings. Thus, the efforts conducted under the ALCUE NET project have resulted in main inputs for the SOMs and Thematic Working Groups.

According to the Description of Work (Annex I), ALCUE NET has sought to boost its activities in accordance with the following objectives from 2012 to 2017. Furthermore, given its flexibility the project was able to continue to support new pathways of bi-regional cooperation. The project structure can be summarised as follows:
● WP1 (Policy Dialogue on Research and Innovation) provides support to the Senior Officials Meetings and to the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation implementation activities in selected priority themes by contributing to developing the bi-regional knowledge and innovation area and reinforcing bi-regional cooperation.
● The core of the WP2 (Energy), WP3 (Information and communication technology, ICT), WP4 (Bioeconomy) and WP5 (Biodiversity) are concrete research and innovation activities leading to JIRI implementation. These 4 WPs have evolved into full bi-regional cooperation platforms involving all relevant stakeholders and undertaking support activities ranging from preparing foresight studies to setting the agenda to the actual implementation of joint instruments in each of the themes.
● WP6 (Capacity strengthening and networking) focuses on supporting the expansion of the National Contact Point (NCP) network in Latin America and Caribbean countries and increasing collaboration between European and CELAC researchers, and supporting capacity building and networking.
● WP7 (Information management, monitoring, evaluation and quality control) concentrates all information management and diffusion activities, including monitoring and evaluation of results. It strongly relies on the inputs from the four thematic WPs to increase awareness on the STI potential of CELAC and on the benefits of EU-CELAC cooperation.
● WP8 (Coordination and Management) is designed to manage project resources and tools that allow for an efficient and effective project coordination, including consortium coordination, scientific and technical knowledge management within the project, reporting, and external relations between the project and the European Commission.
Project Results:
• Creation and reinforcement of strategic synergies with new initiatives and related bi-regional projects as well as with European Commission Directorates. A number of activities were organized jointly with world known initiatives such as LEADERSHIP, ERANet-LAC, EU-LAC Health, CORDEX-LAC, CEPAL, CYTED, EUROCLIMA, ENSOCIO-LA, BIODiversa, BELMONT FORUM, GACD, EEN, ELAN2, INCONTACT 2020, RedCLARA, Latin America Liaison Offices with the EU (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico), etc. ALCUE NET thematic actions particularly benefitted from the links and synergies created with all these initiatives (in which most project partners actively participate) and newcomer countries from both regions.
• Implementation of a Technical Secretariat as a supporting mechanism for SOM coordination by contributing to the preparation of discussion documents and supporting material (agendas, Senior Officials participant list, concept notes, action plans, etc.). 5 EU-CELAC SOM Concept Note were prepared by ALCUE NET.
• Institution of bi-regional thematic platforms (community of stakeholders) that mobilized more than 2,000 Research and Innovation (R&I) players as well as other stakeholders from the public and private sectors
• Organization of back-to-back meetings jointly with the SOM WGs and other related initiatives and projects to improve the use of available funds and tools. In this regard, some meetings have been coordinated by videoconference through RedCLARA.
• Coordination of the official nomination of Working Groups country representatives as members for each Working Group by the EU-CELAC Senior Officials.
• Set up specific actions to identify common thematic priorities on selected areas as input for the implementation of Joint Calls and H2020 consideration. More than 45 priority research topics were identified among the four thematic areas.
• Preparation of the Thematic Reports jointly with the thematic SOM working groups to present relevant proposals and recommendations to be reported to the SOM. A total of 28 thematic reports prepared.
• Build up and expand the LAC National Contact Points Network in order to help building national information systems.
• Support the nomination of representatives in countries without NCP structure to expand the NCP network in LAC. Senior Officials from 18 LAC countries have already signed a Letter of Interest which aims at achieving sustainability and continuous strengthening of the LAC NCP Network.
• Reinforcement of training and expansion of the LAC NCP Network through the organization of NCP annual workshops, technical assistance and awareness raising and dissemination activities: Organization of 9 video conferences with the participation of 808 stakeholders from LAC countries and 20 Training Workshops in 15 LAC countries with the participation of 1,744 stakeholders from the region.
• Improvement of LAC participation in the Horizon 2020 and other related programmes.
• Promotion of consortium building by increasing collaboration between European and LAC researchers.
• Development of a map of current and past bilateral and bi-regional thematic projects, institutions and researchers to monitor progress in the bi-regional cooperation.
• Preparation of a foresight study (“Scenario-VISION 2030”) 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. This exercise was commissioned by Senior Officials.
• Collection of impact stories and case studies to increase project visibility and impact (e.g. through interviews conducted at the SOM).
• Drafting a bi-regional co-publication analysis as background paper for consideration by Senior Officials.
• Set up a website as a support mechanism for EU-CELAC dialogue focusing on each thematic area covered, NCP platform, networks and HORIZON 2020 programme promotion.
• Establishment of an External Review Panel (8 experts in the 4 thematic areas).
• Dissemination of knowledge about the project in partner countries and events organized by other initiatives.
• Design of 3 travel grants schemes:
o for non-partners countries such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Italy, Ecuador, Peru, Estonia, Belgium, Turkey, and Czech Republic, with the aim of improving bi- regional participation in the project supporting activities. More than 40 experts were mobilized
o to facilitate participation of Senior Officials from EU- CELAC non-partner countries in the Senior Officials Meetings
o for LAC NCPs with or without NCP structure to foster the expansion of the ALCUE NET NCP network. More than 30 experts were mobilized to participate in the project LAC NCP annual meetings

Potential Impact:

The project impact so far is to have contributed to the STI policy dialogue between both regions. ALCUE NET has also created a community of R&D stakeholders who now participate actively in project activities and the preparation of related documents. The impact on the international social and economic challenges may be seen in the capacity of the project to operate not only as an intermediary for STI policy dialogue between both regions but also to broadly expand international cooperation opportunities under H2020 and other EU Programs.

It must be noted that the project operated as a centralized mechanism to further disseminate and identify organizations and key actors interested in developing new joint projects and initiatives.

The results of the effort undertaken by the ALCUE NET project consortium and the support given to other EU-funded projects and related initiatives and to the SOM and JIRI Working Groups reinforced the Policy Dialogue process towards the Common Research Area.

The ALCUE NET project has been led and implemented by a Consortium of prestigious bi-regional institutions, with vast experience in EU Projects.
List of Websites:
http://alcuenet.eu/