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Enhanced bi-regional STI cooperation between the EU and the Black Sea Region

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BLACK SEA HORIZON (Enhanced bi-regional STI cooperation between the EU and the Black Sea Region)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2018-01-31

BLACK SEA HORIZON (BSH) project was funded from 02/2015 to 01/2018. It supported the cooperation and coordination of research activities carried out at national or regional level in the EU Member States and the Black Sea region. The project was co-ordinated by the Centre for Social Innovation, Austria, and included 19 institutions from 16 countries, 10 from the Black Sea region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine. The main objectives are:
• to support the EU’s external relations with the target region contributing to ongoing bi-regional and regional STI policy dialogues, increasing the knowledge on EU’s external environment,
• to stimulate bi-regional STI cooperation and to strengthen the EU’s economic competitiveness,
• to contribute to the establishment of supportive framework conditions through the pooling of resources and by identifying thematic areas for mutual STI cooperation.

BSH builds on the “Black Sea Synergy” initiative, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and other dialogue fora by providing services and tools tailored to identifying and eliminating existing cooperation obstacles in the field of international STI cooperation. Analytical findings support the bi-regional STI dialogue in the BS region. To facilitate the pooling of resources, a joint call for proposals was prepared. The participation of BS researchers in HORIZON 2020 was facilitated through:
(i) identified common research topics for future calls for proposals,
(ii) provision of up-to-date information on HORIZON 2020 participation,
(iii) an increased number of joint research proposals through direct face-to-face meetings of,
(iv) a young generation of social scientists trained in HORIZON 2020, and
(v) an increased readiness of programme owners both from the involved countries to engage jointly in JPIs and COFUND ERA-NETs.
Furthermore, the project contributed to cluster policies and management, establish direct business contacts between cluster managers and raise awareness on the advantages of inclusive, sustainable and social innovation.
The project’s results are broadly disseminated to increase awareness on bi-regional STI cooperation activities and opportunities and are exploited towards an enhanced inclusion of the Black Sea region to the ERA.
Joint call preparations (contributing to sub-objectives 1, 3, 5, 6, 7)
• Learning loop on BS ERA Net and related actions provided reflection Funding partners were identified
• Set up of ToRs, Implementation agreement and business plan for a joint call
• Regional peer reviewer database, accessible for funders
• Identification of call topics potentially exploited within regular calls or bilateral programmes

Black Sea Cooperation programme BSCP
• Two Policy briefs based on profound background studies (sub-objectives 1, 2)
• Links to policy dialogue fora (sub-objectives 1, 2, 3) were established
• Through an extensive consultation process with stakeholders, a ‘Black Sea Cooperation Programme – BSCP’ has been drafted. This aims to stimulate the cooperation in the region by mobilising research actors and resources on pertinent common objectives such as Joint research Calls; Capacity Building activities; Strengthening Mobility of Researchers; Supporting Innovation. A conference and a workshop were organised to consolidate the BSCP (sub-objectives 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)

In parallel BSH supported acitively the the researchers to take part to Horizon 2020 by:
• Interactive summer school including 37 young social scientists from the region to become integrated in international project applications (sub-objective 3)
• Grant Scheme supporting 22 researchers from the BS countries in brokerage events and similar networking actions for the link up with EU consortia (sub-objective 1,3)
• 15 webinars informing 450 researchers both from academia and business on cooperation opportunities in HORIZON 2020 (sub-objectives 1, 3, 6).
• Contributing to the future inclusion of BSH countries in ERA NET COFUND or similar initiatives with a funders workshop in Baku, (sub-objective 3, 5)

In terms of innovation the project organised:
• Relevant research based clusters are included in a database (sub-objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
• A workshop in Kiev on research based clusters in the BSH countries for training and cooperation support was organised (operational sub-objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
• A bi-regional cluster networking event and business exchange meeting took place in Budapest, Hungary (sub-objectives 3, 5 and 6).
• Training materials on inclusive innovation and social innovation based on the results from the workshops in Sofia and Tbilisi are available now (sub-objectives 3, 5 and 6).
• Cooperation with cluster meetings in the wider region

Last but not least the project implemented a wide communication and dissemination campaign that among others included:

• A Black Sea Horizon Website informs about the activities (still maintained after project end) (contributing to all operational sub-objectives)
• E-information Newsletter (BSH Newsletter) were disseminated to over 3400 subscribers including researchers and interested stakeholders (contributing to all operational sub-objectives)
• Social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube channel are functioning beyond the project end (contributing to all operational sub-objectives).
• Documentation of dissemination activities (contributing to all operational sub-objectives)
The consortium was managed by use of 3 General assembly meetings and nine virtual meetings, an internal cloud for storage and exchange and the necessary internal team coordination tools as a team list.
The preparations of a joint call were strongly supported by the project this included the preparation of thematic fields and funding commitments, the set up of the necessary formal documents. The joint call release depends now on the concluding steps of funding parties and will run as planned separately from the BSH project. Thematic fields identified have the potential to influence other policy fields like the operations of DG MARE or DG Environment. Moreover, the identified thematic flied of agriculture would potentially have impact on the operations of the ENI CBC and also the bilateral cooperation focusing on agriculture.

In order to contribute to the implementation of the Black Sea Cooperation Programme - BSCP developed under the BSH project, a stakeholder workshop (Ministries and funding Agencies) has been organized (Athens, 25-26/1/2018) in which the most pertinent actions of the BSCP have been prioritized. The contributing parties for their implementation have been identified based on a variable geometry for each individual activity. It can be expected that several such priorities will move forward after the end of the project, contributing to the strengthening of the STI potential in the region, through an increased cooperation among the research actors.

With regards to innovation the existent research based clusters can be accessed now
through an online database that lists and details a set of 30 research based industrial clusters from the region and the registry remains open.
In addition, the project team has developed a set of training materials on inclusive innovation and social innovation valuable for STI funding organisations to support the development of inclusive and social innovation aspects in these countries.