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FETRIC Report Summary

Project ID: 609488
Funded under: FP7-INCO
Country: Tunisia

Periodic Report Summary 1 - FETRIC (Future European Tunisian Research Innovation Cooperation)

Project Context and Objectives:
The overall objective of the project FETRIC project is to improve the S&T cooperation between EU and Tunisia by strengthening bilateral cooperation between research and innovation actors, especially in the context of the Horizon 2020 programme and its future evolution. The project is divided into 5 work packages.
- WP 1 is dedicated to “support policy dialogue between Tunisia and the EU” by gathering all the relevant bottom feedback from the project field and contributing to the preparation and implementation of the road map for future STI cooperation in a understandable form for policy-makers;
- WP2 gives a special focus on the innovation processes in societal challenges of mutual interest such as Scarcity of resources, Energy (specifically renewable energy and energy saving) and High quality affordablefood. After an in-depth analysis of the Tunisian STI system, a methodology will be applied to each of the
identified societal challenges so as to bring research and innovation actors together and hence align EU –Tunisia science, technology and innovation chain processes.
- WP3 named “Raising the EU- Tunisia S&T Cooperation” aims at improving knowledge and skills on scientific and technological matters so as to improve the quality and number of partnerships involving both researchers and entrepreneurs from Tunisia and Europe. This will mainly be done through the building and improvement of technical and management skills in the Liaison Office and the Tunisian networks of multipliers it coordinates.
- WP4 is dedicated to develop efficient “Information, communication and dissemination activities” to increasing the visibility of FETRIC activities to make them more easily available to the scientific and technological communities from Tunisia and EU;
- Finally, WP 5 is dedicated to “General management” of project’s activities and funds with the aim ensure the quality-control of action deliverables, including through an external review committee
Project Results:
The S&T agreement complement the global agreement signed in 1995 between both sides in view of consolidating the free trade agreement, the policy dialogue and the cooperation.
On this basis, important efforts have been performed since 2004 to structure the EU-Tunisian S&T cooperation and policy dialogue and promote the Tunisian participation in the EU Framework Programme. One important project to support these efforts. FETRIC whose objective was to support the EU-Tunisia S&T cooperation agreement. As part
of its achievements, FETRIC provided the following results:
- Development of a Tunisian network of multipliers (National contact Points and institutional points) able to disseminate the opportunities offered by the EU-Tunisian S&T cooperation
and provide feedback from the field to the policy makers;
- Raising of knowledge on opportunities and potential of Tunisian research in Europe and vice et versa.
- Development of the FETRIC platform (website) as main tool for presenting the project to the outside community and stakeholders and also serve as a Gateway for the researcher’s
Tunisian community.
- Coordination of all the Tunisian FP7 projects at a national and regional level so as to build cluster and network of common interest on priorities topics.
- Training of research managers and improvement of awareness on the importance of such a profile;

Nevertheless, the successful participation relates more to outstanding engagement and commitment of individuals, rather than to successfully develop institutional cooperation structures and systematic prioritization of research at a political level. In future, these outstanding performers need to be further developed, rewarded for their success and institutionally supported to share their experience. In the past, this important source of national Tunisian know-how was not systematically tapped. Partially this can be explained by a general low degree of inter and intra institutional communication and coordination among the main actors.

In order to cope with this situation, the BILAT project ‘Future European Tunisian Research
Innovation Cooperation’ (FETRIC) support Tunisia association to H2020 program.
Thus, on 1 December 2015, Tunisia joins Horizon 2020, the EU's Research and Innovation Programme.
Researchers and innovators from Tunisia will now be able to participate in Horizon 2020, the EU's framework programme for research and innovation, under the same conditions as their counterparts from EU Member States and other 13 associated countries. The agreement associating Tunisia to Horizon 2020 is being signed today by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Chiheb Bouden, Tunisian Minister for High Education and Scientific Research.
Commissioner Moedas said: "I am pleased to welcome Tunisia into Horizon 2020, the biggest programme for research and innovation of the world. This agreement is a historical one. It shows that through research and innovation, the EU is supporting the young Tunisian democracy and helping to invest in knowledge as a foundation of future development. Tunisia's accession also shows how a research policy open to the world can bring novel ideas and enrich our common research efforts."
The Association Agreement allows for enhanced cooperation in research and innovation between the EU and Tunisia, vital for successful and modern economies. It also represents another step towards reaching the EU goal of opening research and innovation to the world.
Tunisian research institutes, universities and individual researchers will now have access to all opportunities offered by Horizon 2020 that funds diverse scientific areas, from blue sky research to demonstration projects. Tunisian SMEs and businesses will also be able to benefit from increased support to develop new ideas and bring products and services to the market.
The efforts of FETRIC project to coordinate the national potential in view of its internationalization and will add some new mechanisms and novelties tobring the EU and Tunisian RDI performers, managers and policy-makers a step closer.
Building on the whole experience acquired in the past years, the MHESR decides to set up a ‘Liaison Office for the promotion of EU-Tunisian S&T cooperation’ with a permanent staff in
charge of coordinating FETRIC project implementation in close collaboration with other complementary projects and initiatives. The Liaison Office will focus its work on the following
1. Supporting the S&T policy dialogue carried out by the EU-Tunisian S&T Joint Steering
Committee, main instance of dialogue and decision of the S&T Cooperation Agreement by
providing bottom-up feedback and recommendations as well as monitoring progress in the
bilateral STI cooperation;
2. Encouraging research and innovation communities from EU and Tunisia to communicate and
get closer for tackling societal challenges of mutual interest;
3. Improving knowledge and skills transfer on scientific and technological matters, spreading and
sharing best practices in order to present the state of the art and the prospects for cooperation in
defined fields in either project areas.
4. Providing a wider access to information on scientific and technological programmes, funding
projects building and management of the European Community.
Potential Impact:
Obtained results
The obtained results greatly exceed expected ones in proposal. Tunisia associated country to H2020, well integrated and very active country for PRIMA implementation. Contribute in first ARIMNET2 and ERANETMED call by 1.5 Million Euro. Will contribute by 600.000€ in the ERAFRICA cofund. A liaison office TN-UE research and Innovation created in MHESR

Thus FETRIC project contribute towards the expected impacts and act actively for EUROMED cooperation and ERAFRICA enhancement and support bilateral activity Tunisia- member countries. In general The FETRIC project:
- Support the policy dialogue and contribute to the definition and implementation of joint
strategic agendas for research, development and innovation.
The joint activities developed under WP2 (analysis of the national STI system, clustering of
projects and involvement of the society to better understand and links the stakeholders potentiallyinvolved in the innovation chain) and WP3 (consolidation of national networks, brokerage events and study visits) will more particularly focus on 3 societal challenges which have been identified as the most relevant to enhance the scale and scope of the EU-Tunisian S&T cooperation: scarcity of resources, renewable energies and food, agriculture and biotechnologies.
One of the biggest challenges that FETRIC project will have to cope in this new context will be the enhancement of the current networks to those specifically specialized in the innovation and commercial field.
The involvement of civil society organisations involved in the identified societal challenges will also be an important added value of FETRIC project to target the end-users of the whole
innovations chains and hence to better link the scientific inputs with the market needs. These new collaborations will allow changing the scientific habits and could also generate new types of partnerships based on a more innovative way of working between societal stakeholders from a different background.
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