CAAST-Net Plus Workshop on Horizon 2020 in Mauritius
The event was attended by notable individuals such as the President of Mauritius, Her Excellency Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the European Union’s (EU) Ambassador to Mauritius, Mrs Marjaana Sall, and the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation Hon. Etienne Sinatambou. Presentations and discussions were led by Mrs Nienke Buisman, the European Commission's policy officer for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) relations in Africa, and CAAST-Net Plus partner representatives – Mr Masahudu Fuseini (Science and Technology Policy Research Institute at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana), and Mr George Baroutas (PRAXI Help-Forward Network, Greece).
H.E. President Gurib-Fakim’s keynote address focused on the efforts made towards tackling challenges related to climate change and the acceleration of the country’s green economy. Her Excellency called for increased collaborations between the EU and Mauritius to take advantage of the opportunities available to accelerate development.
In her opening address, Ambassador Sall stated that "[T]he EU is committed to continue supporting the Republic of Mauritius in achieving its vision to graduate into a high income country. In line with this vision, [Mauritius’s] bilateral programme focuses on higher education, research and innovation. Horizon 2020 and Erasmus Plus offer opportunities to promote these sectors and add value to [the country’s] bilateral programme."
Ambassador Sall also revealed that under the Erasmus Plus programme, 17 Mauritians had been selected to travel to Europe and 13 Europeans would travel to Mauritius to study or go into teaching. These engagements had been an outcome of projects initiated in 2016. Fourteen Mauritians had also formerly benefitted from the Erasmus Mundus programme. Furthermore, with the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus Plus programme in 2017 comes the opportunity to explore more collaborative opportunities in higher education.
The discussions were consistent with Mauritius's research priority areas such as biotechnology, oceans, ICTs, climate and renewable energy, nanotechnology, secure societies and innovation powered by small- and medium-sized enterprises. Presentations focused on the objectives of CAAST-Net Plus, instruments and rules of participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus Plus, success stories from Mauritius’s participation in EU research programmes, and training on Horizon 2020 proposal writing and financial management.
Reflecting on the event, Fuseini said: “Overall, the workshop was a success given the fact that participants followed the discussions with passion and enthusiasm. It may be necessary for Mauritius to prioritise establishing National Contact Points with trained individuals who would provide guidance and support to researchers/institutions interested in participating in Horizon 2020.”
The event was co-organised by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and CAAST-Net Plus. The targeted stakeholder groups ranged from academia, research institutions, private sector and government departments.