Europe has conceived its formidable research framework programmes in a way to further research and innovation across the continent. It has also validated the need to collaborate beyond its borders with so-called 'third countries' (i.e. countries that are not members of the EU) on issues of global importance. Through the project 'Creating a circle by extending the BIO-NCP network to third country NIPs' (Bio-circle) project, the EU is increasing participation of researchers abroad in projects under the 'Food, agriculture, fisheries and biotechnology' (FAFB) theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme. Research under FAFB addresses complex global issues such as livestock diseases, pests in agriculture, and non-food challenges that can be tackled with biotechnology. These issues require collaboration of researchers worldwide, from South America and Africa to China and Australia. Bio-circle represents a network of National Contact Points (NCPs) for FAFB distributed in 18 third countries and 6 European ones. These NCPs facilitate the successful roll-out of the framework programme. They support the submission of projects with high potential impact, bring research closer to industry and SMEs, and promote initiatives locally with stakeholders. Through these NCPs, in this case referred to as BIO-NCPs, Bio-circle is strengthening participation of researchers from outside Europe for research projects under the FAFB theme. Bio-circle has overseen extensive training for the 18 third country BIO-NCPs in Brussels. In addition, 12 BIO-NCPs abroad visited institutions of the European BIO-NCPs to learn more about their practices. Subsequently, third country BIO-NCPs have prepared an overview of the most important research institutions in their country. The profiles of these institutions have been published on the Bio-circle website, facilitating partner searches. BIO-NCPs abroad have also outlined plans for training sessions, infodays and national roundtables to pinpoint joint research themes with the EU. In October 2009, a large brokerage event and a European Infoday on FAFB was successfully organised, attracting 176 participants from over 40 countries. Roundtables have taken place in several countries, including Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. In addition, project activities are being promoted through the Bio-Circle website, leaflets, newsletters, training events and links to other websites. An intranet system based on the project's site is helping to coordinate Bio-Circle activities and advance its cause. This goes a long way in addressing global challenges under the FAFB theme and in empowering third countries to address them.
Creating a CIRCLE by extending the BIO NCP network to Third Country NIPs
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30 October 2020