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Capacity building and international networking event in Montevideo (5 – 6 of May, 2014)

10/06/2014

Opportunities for International Cooperation in Research – Horizon 2020 Program- European Union Capacity Building and International Networking

On May 5th and 6th, 2014 the International Capacity Building and Networking event, organized conjointly by ALCUE NET, INCONTACT 2020 and INNOVA II projects, funded by the European Commission was held at the Presidential Chair of the Republic of Uruguay. On May 5th, an information day was offered by international exhibitors to the public, particularly researchers, small and medium enterprises (SME´s), government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), among others. The main objective is to inform about the opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), in the new innovation and research program of the European Union, Horizon 2020. 

During two days, experts of Latin America and Caribbean countries participated in the training program about the Horizon 2020 Cooperation Program of the EU. This event was organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay (MEC), the ALCUE NET Project, INCONTACT 2020, Uruguay INNOVA II, and with the financial support of the European Commission. 

On Tuesday, May 6th, a restricted activity involving National Focal Points and referents of Latin America and the Caribbean, with the aim of creating a platform for international cooperation between them, which allows networking, generating synergies and regional capabilities that enable strengthening of bi-regional cooperation (EU - LAC). 

At the opening session, the Minister of Education Oscar Gómez, welcomed the delegations and remarked the importance of this event. He also confirmed the commitment of the Government in participating actively in the Horizon 2020. Alejandro Montalbán, Cooperation Councilor of the Delegationof the European Union to Uruguay, acknowledged the effort made and the highly qualified experts and participants from all the countries that attended the event. The Director of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, Gabriel Aintablián, remarked that “the cooperation seen as the process of looking for funds from rich countries has ended; nowadays cooperation is seen as two way action with mutual benefits”. 

The training sessions were conducted by highly qualified personnel of National Contact Points of European Countries, IRD (France), MINECO (Spain) as partner of the Alcue Net Project and APRE (Italy) and PRAXI (Greece), the coordinator of the ALCUE NET Project, Mónica Silenzi, the Head of Science and Technology Section of the EU in Brazil, Piero Venturi and Giorgos Tzamtzis, INCONTACT. In these modules, participants learnt about all the areas of the Horizon 2020, search engines, main criteria for projects, etc. 

During the event the presentations focused on the main issues of Horizon 2020. Piero Venturi, UE-STI Representative in Brazil, described opportunities for SME, Almudena Carrero (FECYT- Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain), explained the general structure of the Program, instruments and different tools available on the Internet. Giorgos Tzamtzis (FORTH/PRASI, Greece) and Flavia Mariano (IRD, France) outlined the areas, focus and opportunities in TICs, Energy, Environment, Health and Bioeconomy. Katia Insogna (APRE, Italy) offered a detailed description of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie program. Joxean Fernandez (Eking Consulting) described the opportunities and the role that SME can have in Horizon 2020. 

The activities held during the 6th of May, were restricted to the international participants and some key NCP´s of Uruguay as the host of the event. In this opportunity, Mónica Silenzi (Liaison Office Argentina - European Union) and Trinidad García Liaison Office Chile - European Union) described their strategy and the joint work with European Union. Andrea Vignolo (Director of Cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Uruguay) presented the strategy and goals of the area and the importance of coordination with other countries involved in this Program. Afterwards, participants learned about the experience of Spain, Italy and France. 

All the presentations were followed by an open dialogue that helped to clarify concepts and learn about different realities and levels of knowledge about Horizon 2020. 

The last workshop, coordinated by Mónica Silenzi and Claudia Romano, focused on networking, promoting the integration of all the NCP in a net to facilitate information and promote common actions. The starting point of this work was the Action Plan of the Project. Delegations contributed to envision a common plan of action between the LAC-NCP and also the proposals to propose at the political level (SOM). 

Several delegations assumed an active role and compromise their resources to support other countries in their efforts to participate in the Horizon 2020 Program. 

MAIN PROPOSALS 

Network LAC NCP 
Uruguay (MEC-CUBIST) will be in charge of developing this network integration. 

NCP 
LAC countries will make their best efforts to appoint the NCP´s by the end of June 2014. 

DATABASE 
To create a Database of thematic NCP´s, delegations will deliver complete information of the Contact Points. This information will be available in the ALCUENET Web. 

TRAINING COURSES 
ALCUE-NET project provides two courses per year for the NCP´s of the region. The future activities will include de RED CLARA (Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks). This Network is constituted by 15 Latin American countries (www.redclara.net). 

All participants were provided with the schedule of the training courses and events to be held this year and that are open to LAC countries. These are great opportunities for learning and strengthening links with other countries. 

TRAINING PROPOSALS 
During the workshops several initiatives for strengthening capabilities were studied, e.g. i. train the trainers, ii. include evaluation experts for a better comprehension of UE criteria in project proposals, iiii. how to communicate our ideas and how to reach potential partners for the Horizon 2020 program. 

Training at the EC (Brussels) 
Some opportunities of training in Brussels with specific agendas could be available. Uruguay will get in touch with the Research GD== to learn about this issue and will keep informed the NCP. 

Information about training programs and activities 
The delegations will inform about their main training activities and ALCUE NET will have a link to locate this actions. 

Newsletter 

Brazil took the responsibility of coordinating the newsletter that will be available at least two times per year. Partners assumed the commitment of providing contents for this new challenge. 

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The ALCUE NET Project supports the Policy Dialogue process on STI to consolidate EU-LAC cooperation by contributing to the implementation of the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation (EU-LAC JIRI) in the Senior Officials Meetings (EU-LAC SOM) and will contribute to the definition and implementation of joint strategic agendas for research, development and innovation during 2013-2017. A technical secretariat to support the SOM has been established. 

At the specific level the project focuses on: 
• Achieving progress towards joint improvement of key aspects of societal challenges related to the areas addressed by the SOM Working Groups: Energy, ICT, Bioecnomy and Biodiversity including Climate Change. 
• Supporting Policy Dialogue at all relevant levels. 
• Strengthening cooperation  
  * Joint activities 
  * Observatories on thematic priorities 
  * Expand the network of National Contact Points (NCPs) in LAC 
  * NCP & Horizon 2020 trainings 
  * Provide information of the project achievements 
  * Establish close linkages with other INCO-NETs, ERA-NETs & BILATs 
• Increasing effectiveness and impact. 

In the case of LAC non-member countries ALCUE NET provides the financial arrangements to assure the participation of one NCP per country in the activities of the project. 

Objectives 

Despite the plethora of various communications tools, interpersonal communication is acknowledged as indispensable tool with regards to efficient communication and for the establishment of successful collaborations. However, lack of funding and the extensive travelling costs in most cases hinder the participation of the NIPs at the INCO NCP meetings or events. 

The objective is to improve the communication between NCPs and NIPs and to enhance cooperation between the European INCO NCPs and the NCPs/NIPs from Third countries. Moreover, an equally important aspect is tobuild strong communication channels between NIPs and the Commission with the aim to further foster the utilization of the Commission’s tools for International Cooperation. 

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