ALCUE NET has achieved a great deal for NCP systems in LAC
Based on an interview with Claudia Romano, Direction of International Relations and Projects, Ministry for Education and Culture Uruguay (MEC)
ALCUE NET has contributed significantly to further developing the system of Latin American and Caribbean National Contact Points (NCPs). National NCP systems in LAC were at very different stages when ALCUE NET started. In countries where no NCP system existed, like El Salvador or Bolivia, ALCUE NET supported the initiation, design and construction of such systems or the appointment of first national NCPs. In other cases, like Peru, ALCUE NET gave advise for the upgrade of the NCP system in order to make it fit for new requirements and standards under H2020. How was this achieved? By working closely together with Latin American and Caribbean Ministers and High Authorities in Science, Technology and Innovation and informing them about the role, duties and ideal profile of potential NCPs. Historically, NCPs in LAC were perceived mainly as institutional-political contact persons and only in some cases as driving forces who actively push cooperation initiatives, diffuse information, give advice and motivate researchers to cooperate. The situation is different today.
In concrete terms, ALCUE NET has organized yearly NCP meetings in different countries (more than 400 persons have participated), NCP trainings in 11 countries (with more than 1100 participants) and video conferences. The main objective of these events was to raise awareness on and inform about H2020, and equip NCPs with useful and updated skills for STI cooperation under H2020. A travel grant scheme for NCPs and representatives of countries from outside of the ALCUE NET consortium allowed expanding and democratizing participation in these events.
In parallel a virtual NCP platform was established on the ALCUE NET website that now allows efficient exchange of good practice and relevant information between European and LAC NCPs. The platform is a major improvement what regards communication between national NCPs from both regions.
As trainings and seminars were developing in the framework of ALCUE NET, it got evident that NCPs wished for content which was more specific to sub-regional needs. In order to respond to this need, ALCUE NET thematic workshops were designed in a way that region and sub-region specific priority topics could be jointly discussed. Results were then communicated to high authorities of the biregional political dialogue with the objective to be included in future H2020 calls for proposals. Better coordination of common strategies to work on specific themes (e.g. between Caribbean islands) was another important outcome of the networking activities.
One of the main outcomes of ALCUE NET NCP work was to reach out to countries which had no NCPs in place. Since the implementation of ALCUE NET, the following eleven countries established NCPs: Aruba, Bolivia, Curaçao, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guadalupe, Guatemala, Jamaica, Peru, Panamá and Saint Maarten. Others (like Barbados, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Paraguay) have designated referents which still need to be officially nominated. ALCUE NET established a monitoring system of all LAC NCPs which updates changes in designations and the introduction of new authorities and therefore makes the system more transparent. Up to now, 27 countries in LAC managed to designate 248 NCPs in different areas in the region.
In short, we can say that ALCUENET has managed to work with all countries in the region, spreading knowledge on H2020, and contributing to Latin American and Caribbean capabilities to increase the participation of researchers, companies and NGOs.