SADC NCPs Attend Horizon 2020 Workshop
A total of 30 participants from science ministries and the research community attended the workshop. Participants were primarily from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region: Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Angola, Lesotho, Tanzania, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Swaziland. The sessions were facilitated by Masahudu Fuseini of Ghana's CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI), Melissa Plath from Finland's University of Jyväskylä, and Constantine Vaitsas from Greece's Praxi Help-Forward Network.
The event, which was the collaborative effort of the CAAST-Net Plus and the European Commission, was graced by the European Commission Ambassador to Botswana, the Deputy Executive Director of the SADC and a representative of the Minister of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science, and Technology.
The aim of the event was to give support or information on the EC's funding framework, Horizon 2020 and also conduct National Contact Point (NCP) training for researchers and potential beneficiaries of the funding for research and innovation for countries within the SADC region, in order to increase their participation in the Horizon 2020. Barend Taute of South Africa's CSIR also shared his experiences as a NCP.
The main objectives of the workshop were to;
- Increase the awareness of Horizon 2020 and the opportunities particularly suitable for Africa-EU collaboration in Horizon 2020;
- Describe the rules for participation, how to submit a proposal, and how to identify partners for a proposal;
- Inform researchers about the existence of NPCs in the European Commission structure and roles expected; and,
- Provide information and tools for new or potential NCPs to better carry out the tasks to support their research community.
The EC’s Horizon 2020 calls are floated every two years and has since seen the release of two sets of Calls in the last four years, and currently awaiting the final lap in October 2017 to span the period 2017 to 2020. In effect, the information and training were carried out in anticipation of the upcoming October Calls and beyond. Topics discussed included; Opportunities for African participation in Horizon 2020; Finding partners for H2020; Proposal submission process; Role of NCPs; and financial management and reporting in Horizon 2020.
- Introduction to Horizon 2020 - European Commission – Nienke Buisman, European Commission
- African Participation in Horizon 2020 - European Commission – Nienke Buisman, European Commission
- Overview of Horizon 2020 Rules and Instruments – Constantine Vaitsas, Praxi Help-Forward Network, Greece
- Experiences from Horizon 2020 Project – PROIntensAfrica - Baitsi Podisi, Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), Botswana
- Opportunities for African Participation in Horizon 2020 - Part I – Melissa Plath, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
- Opportunities for African Participation in Horizon 2020 - Part II – Masahudu Fuseini, CSIR-STEPRI, Ghana
- Finding Partners for Horizon 2020 Call – Masahudu Fuseini, CSIR-STEPRI, Ghana
- Horizon 2020 Proposal Submission Process – Melissa Plath, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
- Breakout Session: Identifying a Call – Masahudu Fuseini, CSIR-STEPRI, Ghana
- Introduction to NCP System – Constantine Vaitsas, Praxi Help-Forward Network, Greece
- What is a National Contact Point and Setting Up a NCP Network – Constantine Vaitsas, Praxi Help-Forward Network, Greece
- Case Study: Ghana National Contact Point (MESTI) – Masahudu Fuseini, CSIR-STEPRI, Ghana
- Case Study: Malawian National Contact Point – Gift Kadzamira, National Commission for Science and Technology, Malawi
- Case Study: South African National Contact Point (CSIR) – Barend Taute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa
- Breakout Session: Financial Management and Reporting – Melissa Plath, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Country experiences from South Africa, Ghana and Malawi, on the work of NCPs were shared and participants were taken through hands-on exercises on how to respond to Horizon 2020 Calls.
"In essence, participants were excited about the event, with some participants hearing about Horizon 2020 for the first time and believe that the training would help them contribute to the propagation of the programme, and to support potential applicants in meeting the prerequisites for the Calls," says Fuseini.
Reflecting on the event Gift Kadzamira, a NCP from Malawi's National Commission for Science and Technology said: "This is an advanced form of training on Horizon 2020. I have in the past attended an Info Session on Horizon 2020 and a training event in Ethiopia. This event has exposed us to the real practical aspect of the funding instrument and we can now confidently offer assistance or support to potential applicants to help increase African participation in the upcoming Calls.
"The SADC Horizon 2020 and NCP information workshop will be the last of the major events to be organised by CAAST-Net Plus. As the project nears its close in December 2017, we will not be holding further major workshops as resources for these engagements have been exhausted, however collaborative events with other projects or institutions are welcome, to play peripheral roles," Fuseini adds.
Read more about the workshop in this article published by the Weekend Post.