Canada and the European Commission have agreed to renew and expand a joint program that promotes collaboration among researchers in their countries in the area of science and technology.
The project, known as ERA-Can Plus, is a joint initiative of the EC’s European Research Area and the Canadian government. The project, launched in October, provides opportunities for Canadians and Europeans, including early-career researchers and postdoctoral fellows, to collaborate on research projects.
Participants in ERA-Can Plus will be able to apply for research support through Horizon 2020, a major EC funding initiative that is making available 80 billion Euros ($116 billion Canadian) over seven years starting in early 2014. The first calls for proposals are expected in December 2013.
Proposals must be submitted by a consortium of researchers and include at least three Europeans from three different countries. Canadians need to tap into European research networks to access this opportunity, said Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. They must also be able to demonstrate that they are bringing expertise that is not available in Europe. “Canadian participation in international research projects like ERA-Can Plus is important as it increases the likelihood that Canadian expertise and perspectives will be brought to bear on global and cross-border research issues,” he said.
Horizon 2020 is bigger in scope and funding than the EC’s previous research funding program and includes a new focus on commercialization of research results, said Kate Geddie, AUCC senior policy analyst. AUCC will work to raise awareness about the project among researchers at its member institutions and ensure that Canadian research interests are represented in the program, she said.
The program is also open to researchers working in federal government labs, colleges and private enterprises.
About 40 percent of the Horizon 2020 budget is dedicated to addressing “societal challenges” that include: health, democratic change and wellbeing; food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research, and the bio-economy; secure, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport; climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; inclusive societies; and secure societies.
ERA-Can Plus is one of several bilateral agreements the EC has negotiated with partner countries to promote research collaboration. A previous ERA-Can agreement brought together over 1,600 Europeans with 260 Canadians and 547 researchers from other countries. More than 35 Canadian universities participated in the projects. In many cases the Canadian scientists received funding from domestic agencies and institutions, but 25 percent received funding from the EC.
One such project included Halim Yanikomeroglu, a professor of systems and computer engineering at Carleton University, working with 40 partners from Europe and China. The three-year project involved developing international standards for wireless broadband connectivity for 4G wireless devices. Dr. Yanikomeroglu and two other Carleton researchers received $650,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, plus additional support from the Chinese corporation Huawei, as well as Samsung, a South Korean corporation. Dr. Yanikomeroglu is now putting together a new consortium and developing a proposal for funding for the next phase of the project under Horizon 2020. If approved, the group will work on developing the next generation 5G wireless technology.