Athens INCO Conference results

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The “1st Conference on International Cooperation (INCO) – Supporting Research Integration”, held in Athens, was successfully concluded with the participation of more than 150 research policy makers from 53 countries underlying the necessity of research cooperation at global level in order to address global challenges (societal, environmental, etc).

The conference aimed to highlight the global dimension of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) as well as to stimulate the exchange of views and formation of a policy standpoint as regards to international research.

During the first day, the annual meeting of the European Commission (EC) with the INCO National Contact Points (NCPs) was held together with an exclusive training seminar. The second day was primarily focused on policy related issues of International Research Cooperation as well as on the views of Third Countries with regards to their involvement in the FP7. In addition, during the second day, experiences of International Cooperation projects funded by the EC under the FP7 were presented and extensively discussed.

More specifically, Dr. Leonidas Karapiperis, Special Advisor, DG Research, EC, stressed out that 75% of global research is made outside the EU, which by itself makes the connection of European Research Area (ERA) with the global research community a priority. He also underlined that European investments in research and technology are stagnant while Asian countries continue to grow and the US maintains higher investments. Finally, Dr. Karapiperis noted that ERA has six initiatives, namely the unification of the labor market for EU researchers, building world class research infrastructures and capacities, the effective coordination of programmes and priorities, the effective sharing of knowledge, building excellent research institutions and universities and opening the ERA to the world.

Apart from the international dimension of FP7, the Athens INCO Conference highlighted the scientific policies implemented by other countries or international organizations, while special focus was drawn on the Arabic Peninsula. Dr. David Stonner, Head of the Europe Office of the National Science Foundation (USA), pointed out the skepticism on behalf of American researchers as far as cooperating with researchers outside the US, despite the notable increase in this respect which is enhanced by initiatives funding international cooperations.

Global challenges require better design of the national research policies, argued Dr. Iain Gillespie, Head of Science & Technology, Policy Division, Directorate for Science & Technology, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He underlined that investments in Research & Technology in periods of financial crisis, make up the main factor for economic development and can seriously increase competitiveness and thus, it should not be viewed as unnecessary expenditure.

European researchers found interesting the opportunities for research cooperation opened in the Arabian Peninsula, which invests heavily in building research infrastructures, especially in the field of energy, desertification, water resource management as well as in addressing certain diseases. Extensive presentations followed by Dr. Samir Hamrouni, Senior Advisor, S&T, Dubai Institute of Technology (DIT)/ Technopark/United Arab Emirates and by Mr. Kenneth Wilson, Director, National Research Foundation, United Arab Emirates, highlighting certain activities in the Arabic Peninsula and specific opportunities in the field of international cooperation.

The next INCO Conference will be held in 2011 in Pretoria, South Africa.

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