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Strengthening the European Research Area in Mediterranean Countries

Final Report Summary - ERA-MED (Strengthening the European Research Area in Mediterranean Countries)

The main objective of the ERA-MED project was to open up the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and European Research Area (ERA) to the Mediterranean countries (MPCs) which are not Member States of EU. The proposed project capitalised on one of the fruits of previous investment initiatives of the European Commission (EC), namely a sustained network of information points (National contact points (NCPs)) for the Framework Programmes of the EU.

The specific objectives of the project were:
1. To strengthen the ERA and promote FP7 to the MPCs. It is envisaged that the project will stimulate and promote the participation of scientific communities from MPCs in the activities of the Specific Programme 'Cooperation' and its Thematic priorities. The targeted MPCs are: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia.
2. To realise a mapping activity across eight MPCs of large-scale national research and development (R&D) programmes which will reflect the national priorities and investments.
3. To create a 'model' database / virtual directory which will have as inputs the profiles of key-players / organisations involved in the relevant large-scale national R&D programmes. The database will be based on ISO standards and will be made available to NCPs for them to enrich beyond the lifecycle of the project.
4. To prepare an assessment report on the social, cultural and practical conditions of scientific support in MPCs. The report will be based on individual reports prepared by each Mediterranean NCP and will reflect the similarities and differences regarding the above-mentioned issues across the MPCs.
5. To strengthen the collaboration and integrate Mediterranean NCPs into the European networks, in order to strengthen the cooperation between the formal NCPs network of the EU and the NCPs of MPC. In order to achieve this objective, a common workshop between all NCPs of MPCs (Member Sates of EU and Associated Candidate Countries) as well as Mediterranean NCPs will be realised.

The project identified, through a mapping exercise, national public large-scale R&D programmes across the MPCs and compared the results against the participation of each MPC in the recent Framework Programmes (Fourth Framework Programme (FP4) - Sixth Framework Programme (FP6)). This activity is expected to assist the European Commission in formulating appropriate initiatives within the framework of Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in order to achieve a closer collaboration with MPCs.

A database was developed which includes the profiles of key-players / organisations involved in the above national R&D programmes. The database is accessible via the project website, found at http://www.eramed.gr.

There was an assessment of the different social and cultural conditions of scientific support in each MPC, the conclusions of which are presented in a report that includes recommendations to improve the level of EU-MED R&D collaboration.

The major achievements of the project were:
- the creation of a project handbook;
- the realisation of the kick-off meeting at the premises of the coordinator, EKT, in Athens, 15 - 16 February 2007;
- the establishment of the website of the project;
- update of Mediterranean NCP websites;
- a mapping of large-scale national R&D programmes, the gathering of the relevant data and entry into a database;
- a report on the social, cultural and practical conditions of scientific support in MPCs;
- the realisation of the annual meeting at the premises of the Italian partner CIHEAM / IAMB in Bari, Italy on 6 - 7 March 2008;
- the realisation of two NCP training workshops - one on the occasion of the kick-off meeting and the other on the occasion of the annual meeting, attended by the staff of the NCPs;
- the preparation of a project leaflet in English, French and Arabic which includes the objectives of the project, and the scope and activities of the InPs; for distribution to the target groups of the Mediterranean NCPs;
- the development of training materials for the NCP staff;
- the mentoring of the Palestinian partner by the coordinator;
- the planning and organisation of information days and thematic workshops by the Mediterranean partners in order to inform their national scientific community of the possibilities of participation in FP7;
- the organisation of a EU-MED NCP workshop to improve the networking of the Mediterranean NCPs with their EU counterparts;
- the final consortium meeting.

In terms of awareness-raising, the project helped to integrate the Mediterranean NCPs into the EU NCP systems and networks through the realisation of a series of relevant activities. It also funded a series of events in MPCs to facilitate researchers' awareness of FP7 among the R&D community.

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