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Should international cooperation in research and innovation be developed?

Roger Torrenti - May 25, 2015

International-cooperation_H2020_Sigma-OrionisOver the last 15 years, Sigma Orionis has had the privilege and opportunity to coordinate or take part in a wide variety of activities designed to strengthen scientific and technological (S&T) cooperation in the fields of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with other countries and regions around the world (particularly in the context of projects supported by the European Commission via its framework programme for research and development).

The experience garnered by Sigma Orionis concerns industrialised countries (the United States, Japan, South Korea, etc.) and emerging economies (China, India, South Africa, Singapore, etc.) as well as developing countries (South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, etc.).

Sigma Orionis has been able to draw numerous overwhelmingly positive conclusions from these activities, as invariably they allowed us to:

  • promote the excellence of European research and attract talents from third countries,
  • efficiently support European external policy,
  • build partnerships that allow research topics with an international impact to be treated more efficiently,
  • open certain local markets up to European stakeholders,
  • move European research forward, not only from the interaction with stakeholders from developed countries, but also with stakeholders from less or little developed countries, where fewer means can often result in particularly innovative solutions that can be a source of inspiration for European research (‘reverse innovation’),
  • develop a growing ecosystem of stakeholders able to effectively meet the global challenges of our times.

These conclusions serve to highlight the inevitable emergence of globalised research and to encourage further intensive international cooperation, despite the difficult economic context Europe currently faces.

With this in mind, we can only express our delight that the new European framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, reasserted1 the fact that ambitious international cooperation remains a key aspect of the programme.

The current economic climate naturally demands increased austerity which will probably result in a positive impact as it will encourage the systematic application of measures that are valid for any international cooperation project, such as:

  • careful selection of the region or country concerned according to the considered research programme and its strategic priorities,
  • precise evaluation of the expected shared risks and benefits inherent to this type of cooperation (in the short and longer term) while maintaining high standards and remaining selective,
  • finally, the systematic promotion of reciprocal access for European players in research and innovation in the country/region in question.

A new phase in S&T cooperation is dawning, particularly in the field of ICT, an area that holds increasing importance for societies around the world. Sigma Orionis is determined to maintain its position as a key player in this exciting new phase, particularly via its recently launched projects (see the ‘News’ section of this site): ECIAO, SmartFIRE, MED-DIALOGUE, CHOICE, etc.

Ref 1: European Commission’s Communication COM (2012)497 “Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: a strategic approach”

Roger Torrenti, Karine Valin, Camille Torrenti

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