"ALCUE NET allows to connect things which otherwise wouldn’t get connected"
based on an interview with Gonzalo Arenas S. (Director International Relations) and Trinidad García Santa María (Coordinator Program International Cooperation) from CONICYT Chile
Gonzalo Arenas sees the big benefit of a project like ALCUE NET in the possibility to create synergies between different cooperation projects and initiatives (at national level or bi-regional level) which augment their impact by complementing each other: “ALCUE NET allows to connect things which otherwise wouldn’t get connected”. At the same time the project gives sustainability and a structure to the Political Dialogue which otherwise would depend a lot on the willingness of individual actors or countries. There does not exist a comparable instrument which structures scientific cooperation between the two regions. In that sense, the ALCUE NET project is unique. The ERANet-LAC project is a very good example of a concrete result of ALCUE NET and shows how individual cooperation initiatives build upon each other. Gonzalo Arenas sees the ERANet as a good bridge between national funding and the European Framework Program as it has a lower entry level and familiarizes less experienced countries and researchers with H2020, which is already a big benefit. The coaction of different cooperation initiatives between EU and CELAC creates confidence and validation and continuity of the topics that are being raised in the projects. For its broad thematic coverage, ALCUE NET achieved to create synergies with other thematically more focused projects. As one concrete example Mr. Arenas mentioned the co-organization in 2014 of an ICT event in Guadalajara/Mexico between the ALCUE NET and the LEADERSHIP projects. Resources were invested more effectively as both projects joined forces to reach the desired result (the creation of the LA ICT Technology Platform). Another already achieved outcome of the conversation that was started by ALCUE NET is the participation of CYTED in ERANet-LAC which, again, allows reducing costs and gives CYTED additional utility. On the political level ALCUE NET achieved to establish a format where all countries from CELAC meet on a regular basis – which is hard to happen otherwise. Especially scientifically less advanced countries benefit from the support structures provided by the ALCUE NET project and are animated to participate in the bi-regional STI dialogue. As big challenges for the future Mr. Arenas sees the integration of new actors in the Political Dialogue and the connection of topics (reaching out from the identified sub-topics and specialized expert groups to a more global cooperation culture). The challenge for the impact assessment of the cooperation projects will be to go beyond simple statistics of numbers of participants in H2020 and asking broader questions such as how the established networks and links of projects impact national funding structures and discussions.