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Editorial - Second issue of ALCUE NET Newsletter

13/02/2015

Today, although there are different mechanisms and vehicles for the dissemination of information, that is still an issue to demand more efficient and pragmatic solutions. This question assumes contours even more complex when it comes to dissemination of information on specific themes.

In this sense, except for issues such as the economy, politics, sport, public security, health and education, the other or are little explored by usual media or are propagated in more specialised publications. 

In view of our thematic work, the science, technology and innovation, the mechanisms for dissemination on activities such as events, funding opportunities on or the activities of international cooperation have scope significantly restricted or of punctual nature.

Some progress can be noted with respect to this issue and one of the most significant is the system proposed and implemented by the European Commission (EU) within the context of its Member States and Associated Countries with the Framework Programs. We refer to the National Contact Points (NCPs) system. The NCPs is a network of information dissemination on the Framework Programs of the EU, whose responsibility for structuring and maintaining the network and the indication of its members to the European Commission is of the Member States and Associated Countries.

The main objectives of NCPs with respect to the Framework Programs are: i) support in the choice of relevant topics and types of action; ii) assistance to institutions in administrative procedures and contractual issues; iii) training and assistance in preparation of proposals; iv) distribution of documents (guides, forms, manuals, etc.); and v) support in the search for partners.

From the Seventh Framework Program, which introduced significant changes compared to its previous versions, especially as regards to its more cosmopolitan nature, the EU is encouraging that third countries (all those that are not Member States or Associated Countries) could create their own NCP networks. As one of the priorities of FP7 was to extend the activities of international cooperation with third countries, an important element for achieving this goal has been to create instruments that would give support to the greater participation of these countries in the Program.

In the context of Latin America, the first step of the EU was encouraging that those countries with whom it has cooperation agreements in science and technology were to establish their NCP networks. Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico were urged to establish their NCP networks as a way their research institutions and companies could count on support as part of the procedures for applying to FP7 calls for proposals. As a subsequent step, the EU sought to stimulate that these four countries would support the other Latin American and Caribbean countries in the structuring of their NCPs.

Today, after more than seven years of works and initiatives to the structuring in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries of NCPs networks, the established framework is quite diverse. Some countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia made significant advances in the creation of their NCPs networks. Others, such as is the case of the countries of the Caribbean, Paraguay, Peru and others, have not yet proceeded with their NCPs networks. The most emblematic is Brazil that although recorded in the website of the European Commission as having more than 20 NCPs, in practice, only two are effectively active.

In view of the recognition of the important role that the NCPs play in the process of implementing the Framework Programmes, and in particular for the expansion of the international cooperation activities with third countries, the European Commission is seeking to improve the structuring of these networks in the LAC countries. In this sense one of the tasks objective of project ALCUE NET, which main objective is to establish an EU-LAC platform bringing together actors involved in research and innovation activities, is to develop and strengthen existing capacities of LAC NCP networks, and expand those networks in the region. To achieve this objective, there are several regional workshops foreseen along the project, which will have the participation of both LAC beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of ALCUE NET project. Project ALCUE NET will support the participation of one NCP from a non-beneficiary LAC country to broaden the LAC participation. 

On May the 5th and the 6th, 2014, took place in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay, the event Capacity building and international networking. One of the event objectives was to develop and strengthen the capacities of existing LAC NCPs, and expand the LAC NCP networks. The main result of this event was that Uruguay (MEC-CUBIST) will be in charge of integrating the LAC NCP networks. Another result was that LAC countries would make their best efforts to appoint their NCP´s by the end of 2014.

Next March, on the 23rd and 25th, 2015, in Barbados, will be realized the second event on Capacity building and international networking. The main objectives of the event will be: i) to inform and update all participants about the opportunities for third countries in European Union’s New Innovation and Research Framework Programme – Horizon 2020; and ii) to develop and strengthen the capacities of existing LAC NCPs and also expand the LAC NCP networks.

Taking into account the importance of the NCP networks for the success of the dissemination of information actions, and support for international cooperation activities, especially in the context of the opportunities which exist within Horizon 2020, it is fundamental the commitment of the LAC countries for the constitution of these networks.

For this, we rely on the presence of all ALCUE NET partners in Barbados!

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