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EU-Australian Research Cooperation

With only about 23 million inhabitants Australia produces 3% of the world’s knowledge. Australian is one the world leaders in many areas of research and innovation. Europe has long been a key partner for Australia in the area of research and innovation. The EU-Australian Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation from 1994 was the first such agreement with an industrialized country. The collaboration spreads across many different research areas, for instance medical sciences, agriculture and biotechnologies, ICT, astronomy, biodiversity, etc. Australia cooperates with the EU as well as with individual member states, particularly UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

The EU’s Framework Programmes have been of huge importance fostering the EU-Australian research cooperation. In FP7, the Australian researchers participated in 169 projects, receiving more than 12 million euro of EU contribution and ranking number 9 of all third countries. Horizon 2020 (2014 – 2020), the European Union’s framework program on research and innovation, offers many opportunities for cooperation with Canadian researchers, particularly in the collaborative projects but also in the ERC Grants and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. With Australia as an industrialized country, the main reasons for pursuing joint projects is to increase the competitiveness, to tackle global societal challenges though common innovation solution and to develop enabling technologies.

Australian partners can take part in many parts of Horizon 2020, however, in general with own financial contribution. They are eligible for funding if

  • there is specific provision in the call text
  • provided for under a bilateral scientific and technological agreement or any other arrangement
  • the participation is deemed essential for carrying out the action (case by case assessment regarding outstanding competence/expertise, access to research infrastructure, etc.).

Connecting Australian European Science and Innovation Excellence (CAESIE)

  • is a programme jointly funded by the European Commission and the Department of Industry. It runs from 2012-2015.
  • it aims to strengthen and expand the existing formal Australian-EU science relationship to promote innovation and research engagement with industry by addressing global challenges (clean energy; sustainable cities; and healthy ageing through enabling technology).
  • it assists Australian SMEs to tap into entrepreneurial research opportunities in Europe. It also provides a mechanism for Australian researchers to more easily access European business markets.

CAESIE has achieved a number of milestones since its commencement

  • A match making service between Australian and European researchers and industry representatives facilitated by Australian subject (both research and industry) experts.
  • Provision of “priming” grants to establish 62 new Australia-EU research-industry collaborative projects through two calls with 26 and 36 approved projects, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The preliminary outcomes of this component have been positive, with 80% of completed CAESIE priming grants reporting extremely successful interactions leading to the development of a range of Australian-European Union research-industry collaborative partnerships.
  • An info-tour of a high-level delegation of policy, industry and research representatives from Australia through Germany, France, UK and Finland, in 2015. The tour increased the European policy, innovation and research community’s awareness of opportunities to participate in open programmes in Australia and promoted the Australian R&D&I landscape effectively.

In addition, PACE-Net is another important bilateral project aiming at strengthening the bi-regional sustainable dialogue on S&T between Europe and the Pacific. Involving researchers from across the Pacific, the project is also strongly supported by Australia.

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