Egypt hopes to improve its research capacity, partly through collaboration with Europe. European officials also see the collaboration as beneficial; hence, several agreements facilitating research exchange have been enacted since 2005. An additional initiative facilitating such exchange was the EU-funded project 'Shaping Egypt's association to the ERA and cooperation action' (SHERACA). The four-member partnership began in December 2009 and ran until May 2013. Its goal was to enhance the participation of Egyptian researchers in various European Research Area (ERA) activities, working in conjunction with other EU projects having the same aim. Work performed during the project's first 18 months went close to plan. The main focus was enhancing the capacity of Egypt's FP advisors through a training programme, covering administrative and technical issues. The outcome was a clear improvement in the quality of assistance provided to the Egyptian research community, resulting in improved Egyptian participation in various FP7-2011 calls. SHERACA's activities led to developing synergies with other regional projects, including better sharing of resources and improved visibility of Egyptian research in Europe. Egyptian political events beginning in January 2011 impacted several of the project's planned activities. This resulted in a delay, and the European Commission granted a project extension of six months, which did not affect the budget. The project developed a user-friendly web portal and suitable content. The portal proved important in creating linkages, and enhancing communication. Team members also fostered partnerships. These were achieved by increasing the visibility of Egyptian research capacity in Europe, and by assessing Egypt's participation in FP7 to evaluate the current cooperation agreements. SHERACA built the capacity of national advisors for EU-funded programmes via training and benchmarking analysis. The list included thematic experts, National Contact Points, research administrators and industry liaison officers. Additionally, the project hosted training activities, synergy-building activities, and various other events and workshops. Selection of external trainers was based on a learning-needs analysis. SHERACA resulted in improved research cooperation between Egypt and Europe. Specifically, the project provided access to information, enhanced current exchange agreements and identified best partnerships.
Collaboration, research capacity, research exchange, European Research Area