ERAfrica Proposal Response Exceeds Expectations
ERAfrica is still some way off from announcing the winning proposals for its first joint call, but the European Commission-funded project says it is very pleased with the response.
The funding scheme aims to create partnerships between researchers in Europe and Africa by pooling funding from a number of countries and offering it up for collaborative projects.
The call was issued on 15 January this year.
Researchers from 15 countries–Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ivory Coast, Kenya, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey–had three months to submit proposals.
Applicants were invited to enter in three thematic areas: interfacing challenges, (such as health, food and energy security), renewable energies and ‘new ideas’ (an open theme with focus on the novelty of the approach).
The call managers received a total of 124 proposals, of which 18 were ruled ineligible. The interfacing challenges theme led with 75 applications, followed by new ideas with 18 and renewable energies with 13.
In the renewable energies theme the greatest number of original applications, measured by the number of prospective coordinators, came from Egypt (6), though South Africans accounted for most participants (19). For interfacing challenges, South Africa sported both the highest number of applications (20) and the greatest number of participants (75). For New Ideas, most applications came from South Africa (7), but most participants were from Kenya (26).
Johan Viljoen, ERAfrica's contact at the IRD in Pretoria, says the number of proposals surpassed the programme managers’ hopes:
“Given that ERAFRICA in many ways represents a new kind of collaboration between Europe and Africa we are very pleased with the response to our first ever call for proposals,” he said.
He added: “The number of projects received definitely exceeded expectations, demonstrating the real desire that exists on both continents for this kind of programme.”
The evaluation process is underway and is expected to end in October, at which point a scientific review committee will create a ranking list of projects for consideration based on the scores awarded by the evaluators.
The funding parties will make the final selection in November.
ERAfrica forms part of the 7th Framework Programme suite of European research initiatives, and boasts as primary objective the creation of a “European Research Area Network” for the African continent, similar to other “ERA-Nets” operating in relation to areas as diverse as Russia (ERA.Net RUS), India (New INDIGO) and the Far East (KorA-Net).
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