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Wednesday, 05 February 2014

A new horizon for African-European research links

Last month marked the official start of a fresh wave of funding opportunities from the European Union (EU) for For scientists across Europe. On 11 December, the European Commission finally released the detailed topics and budgets available for the first two years of Horizon 2020, the EU’s eighth research and innovation funding package, worth nearly €80 billion (around US$110 billion) in total from 2014 to 2020.
And European researchers are not the only ones who can get a slice from this funding pie: scientists around the world, including those in developing countries, can compete to take part in EU-funded research projects.
The previous edition of the programme, the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) that ended on 31 December 2013 (though some awarded projects are still ongoing), was also open to such international collaboration, and many African scientists seized the opportunity. At the last count in September 2013, the European Commission said that 1,315 participants from organisations in 45 African countries had taken part in 565 EU-funded projects since FP7 began in 2007.
Although areas such as energy, space research and information and communications technology (ICT) are gaining importance, the bulk of these projects remained focused on  health, food and agriculture, and water and environmental sciences.
African participants have received a combined €178 million from FP7, a substantial rise compared with the previous edition. Under FP6, which ran from 2002 to 2006, only 882 participants took part in 322 research projects and received a combined €95 million from the EU.
Out of the €178 million under FP7, almost €9 million went to fellowships for African researchers, while the rest went to large, collaborative projects where African participants were part of a consortium along with other scientists in Europe (and possibly beyond).

Source: Scidev