It is an undeniable fact that economic growth and increased competitiveness in Europe can only happen by investing in Research and Innovation (R&I). Major benefits can be achieved by tapping into Europe’s unexploited potential in R&I through increased participation in the Horizon 2020 framework research programme coupled with greater commitment from low R&I performing Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC).
This focus allows the European Research Area (ERA) to function in a more efficient and homogeneous way, where the individual strengths of each country may be optimised. This will be achieved by encouraging organisations in participating countries to further develop and take greater advantage of their R&I potential through several specific measures involving mentoring, networking, communication and partnering activities.
Making the most of European potential
The ‘Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation’, programme of Horizon 2020, therefore, aims to help close the R&I divide by improving the participation rate of low performing R&I countries. This will enable them to fully realise the potential of Europe’s gifted researchers and ensure the benefits of an innovation-led economy are both maximized and spread across the EU. Entities from 15 MS (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) are currently eligible for Widening support as project coordinators. A number of AC to Horizon 2020 are also eligible for specific support. Widening consists of three key actions: Teaming, Twinning and ERA Chairs. In Teaming, a MS that performs less well in R&I is partnered with an advanced institute to create a new (or update an existing) centre of excellence. Twinning means linking a university of research institution in a MS that is underperforming in R&I with at least two internationally-leading counterparts in Europe. Activities supported include short-term staff exchanges, networking seminars as well as communication and outreach activities.
Major benefits for participants
Internationally-leading research institutes in Europe, commonly referred to as ‘Advanced’ partners in Teaming and Twinning are encouraged to participate and expand their traditional networks for future strategic collaboration. All projects can benefit from working with an emerging pool of talented researchers. They can also access emerging markets, where those institutions that are currently catching up may play a key role in the future. Hence, developing these synergies will increase efficiency and positively impact jobs, growth and competitiveness across Europe.
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