The European Commission is teaming up with South Africa and Brazil in ‘the South Atlantic research and innovation flagship’, a partnership which will pool funding for climate science, marine litter, ocean observation, food security, fisheries management and ocean technology, and the development of joint data centres where scientists can share research outcomes.
The agreement was signed by EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas, Brazil’s minister for science, Gilberto Kassab, and minister of science and technology of South Africa Naledi Pandor at a conference in Lisbon.
“[The agreement] moves our cooperation with Brazil and South Africa up a gear, enabling us to better coordinate our research agendas and to make best use of our research and innovation funding,” Moedas said.
The collaboration stems from Brussels’ growing interest in Atlantic Ocean-based research, with the Commission planning to invest over €60 million from the EU Horizon 2020 research programme over the next two years. This funding will go towards studying ecosystems, seafloor mapping and new aquaculture systems.
“By 2020 we expect to have more than 500 research teams working from Antarctica to the Arctic funded by Horizon 2020,” Moedas said.
The deal also follows on from a Commission push to attract more foreign researchers to Horizon 2020 after the number of international grant winners fell to a lowly 2.2%.
There has been “a substantial drop” from the previous EU research programme, said Maria Cristina Russo, director for international cooperation at the European Commission’s research directorate, speaking at a Science|Business conference last month. In Framework Programme 7, almost 5% of grants were awarded to researchers in countries outside the EU.
The Commission will try to regain this level of international participation with up to 15 new flagship projects worth €1 billion during the final three years of Horizon 2020.
South Africa is the 2nd biggest foreign participant in Horizon 2020; Brazil is the 5th.