Opportunities for cooperation on research and innovation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and the European Union (EU) were discussed at the Information Day on Horizon 2020 (H2020) held at the Research Complex on October 16.
The event was attended by close to 100 participants from academia, government and research who were oriented on H2020, the EU’s biggest research and innovation program that promotes taking great ideas of discoveries and breakthroughs from the lab to the market. They also learned about INCONET-GCC2, a three year (2014-2017) project designed to establish a science, technology and innovation cooperation network between the Arab Gulf countries and the EU to enable them to reap the benefits of H2020.
In his opening remarks, QU Vice President for Research Dr Hassan Al-Derham expressed appreciation to the European Union for promoting the need for closer cooperation with Arab Gulf countries on research and innovation issues.
“At Qatar University, we welcome every opportunity to interact with international and multi-lateral bodies and industry partners to deepen research and enhance collaboration initiatives”, Dr Al-Derham said, noting that QU participated actively in the first phase of INCONET-GCC.
He added: “It is worth mentioning that QU is collaborating with more than 175 different universities and research institutes in the EU. Now is the time to build on these existing relations to achieve a strategic collaboration of mutual benefit.”
EC Head of Unit EU Neighborhood, Africa and the Gulf Dr Elisabeth Lipiatou said that both regions share the same drive towards research and innovation and have been trying to break national boundaries in this aspect. “Horizon 2020 as a new framework will endeavor to bridge the gap between research and innovation just as INCONET-GCC was formed to facilitate collaboration between Europe and the GCC and research among businesses in the two regions with a focus on diabetes and smart cities”, she said.
Director-General Research and Innovation at the European Commission Thierry Devars said that partnerships were essential for EU leadership in globally competitive technology sectors and that the new integrated program will couple research with innovation and simplify issues for companies, universities and research institutes.
In his presentation, QU Project Manager Abdalla Adlan in the Office of VP for Research and the national contact point for INCONET-GCC, said that the program will promote regional integration as well as identification and prioritization of common research areas of mutual interest and benefit.
He added that it will also facilitate the uptake and use of common identified research areas and monitoring of performance and impact of cooperation agreements.
PRAXI Network Technology Transfer Consultant George Baroutas elaborated on the INCONET-GCC2 initiative, saying that the forum sought to support and strengthen institutional bi-regional policy dialogue in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), and bi-regional cooperation between research and innovation actors.
He highlighted that the consortium consists of 20 key players from the two regions in research and innovation which include 10 EU partners, eight Arab Gulf countries, and two from south Mediterranean (Egypt and Morocco).
A presentation on ‘Opportunities for EU-GCC Collaboration in Smart Cities’ by Stavroula Maglavera from the University of Thessaly, Greece touched on the European Commission’s efforts in focusing on smart cities to optimize output and ensure coherence to public policy.