I find it very gratifying to address you at this moment in which the year 2022 begins to summarize what 2021 has been like for EU-LAC collaboration in the field of research infrastructures. In addition, I take this opportunity to summarize what 2021 has been like for EU-LAC collaboration in the field of research infrastructures.
In 2021 we have continued to be submerged in the effects of COVID-19, suffering the difficulties that the pandemic imposes on projects such as EU-LAC ResInfra, "Towards a new EU-LAC association in Research Infrastructures", which are forced to rethink the planning of their activities and milestones. We have been able to continue with bi-regional collaboration exploiting the possibilities of telematic means to continue consolidating bi-regional collaboration around research infrastructures.
A significant number of meetings were held throughout the year. Among the most relevant, 2 meetings of the Infrastructure Working Group of the Joint CELAC-EU Initiative on Research and Innovation, one in March and the other in November , in which we were able to review the progress of the collaboration and lay the foundations for its sustainability with the definition of future actions. In particular, at the March meeting, the plans of the four EU-LAC ResInfra pilots were reviewed, as well as the role of the NCPs as fundamental actors for strengthening bi-regional collaboration.
In early June, ICRI2021, the International Conference on Research Infrastructures, brought together policy experts, facility managers, researchers and other stakeholders to discuss the challenges and new trends in research infrastructures around the world.
The fruitful collaboration between the EU-LAC ResInfra and EU-LAC RI-VIS projects, led by the Instruct-ERIC pilot, was reflected in the Latin America-Europe Symposium on research infrastructures, focused on giving visibility to European research infrastructures as engines for collaboration with Latin America, which took place between June 15 and 17.
We were also present at the TICAL2021 conference as well the 5th Latin American e-science meeting, where BELLA (Building the Europe Link with Latin America) was inaugurated, the direct cable that connects Europe with Latin America. From October 4 to 8, we participated in the Latin American Supercomputing Conference, CARLA. This is a forum that promotes the growth and strengthening of the High Performance Computing (HPC) community in Latin America, where the EU-LAC ResInfra pilot, the Ibero-American High Performance Computing Network (RICAP), co-organized some of the sessions. As a result of the collaboration between EU-LAC ResInfra and RedClara, a workshop was held in which we had the opportunity to discuss the use of the scientific network and the services it offers for research infrastructures and users in general.
We also participated on October 1 in the Science Summit of the 76th UN General Assembly, where the contribution of research infrastructure to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was discussed. LifeWatch, one of the EU-LAC ResInfra pilots, organized a session dedicated to SDG 14, Life Underwater, and SDG 15, Life on Land. Finally, on October 19 we participated in the workshop "Exchange on the progress made and opportunities for bi-regional cooperation in research and innovation - one year after the agreement on the strategic roadmap of the JIRI EU-CELAC 2021-2023" of the EU-LAC Foundation, where we exhibited the work carried out during the year.
Beyond the meetings, workshops and events, the pilots continued with their plans and activities, to highlight some, mentioning the INSTRUCT-ERIC calls restricted to the Latin American region and aimed at financing access to infrastructure and the exchange of personnel. Furthermore, in June 2021 the Project successfully passed its mid-term review.
It is also worth mentioning in this annual summary the importance of collaboration between European projects dedicated. To coordinate with Latin America, such as the RI-VIS, EULAC Permed dedicated to personalized medicine, or RISC2, to the coordination of research in high-performance computing. Establishing synergies, exchanging experiences and launching joint actions between them is essential to seek a greater impact and make efficient use of the resources from European programs.
Finally, I would not like to end these lines without mentioning one of the most important events of the year, the launch of the ESFRI (European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures) 2021 Roadmap. Eleven new projects are incorporated into the roadmap and four of the existing ones acquire the status of implemented infrastructures and providing a service to researchers. In the strategy chapter, the section dedicated to "European research infrastructures on the world stage", express mention is made of the collaboration with the Latin American and Caribbean region highlighting the importance of including research infrastructures in cooperation agendas between the EU and priority regions. In addition, it is highlighted how ESFRI and its infrastructures (LifeWatch ERIC, INSTRUCT ERIC and E-RIHS, among others) play a fundamental role in the implementation of the EU-CELAC strategic roadmap. All of the above confirms the importance of research infrastructures to consolidate EU-CELAC collaboration in research and innovation. EU-LAC ResInfra already has new actions planned for this year 2022 that we hope will contribute to the consolidation of collaboration and make it sustainable over time.
Towards a new EU-LAC partnership in Research Infrastructures
EU-LAC ResInfra coordinator participated in the ESFRI ROADMAP 2021 LAUNCH EVENT
The meeting was held remotely on the 10th November 2021. The main discussion topics centred around the new developments in RI collaboration between the EU and LAC, including the latest information on the EU-LAC ResInfra project, which specifically focuses on improving the EU-LAC cooperation on RIs. In total 37 delegates and participants from the EU and LAC joined the meeting and shared the importance of
encouraging the collaboration work in priority areas in order to build on a sustainable partnership on Research Infraestrucures for the long term.
EU-LAC RESINFRA joined in the most renowned world events of Forensic Sciences “InterForensics 2021”, represented by E-RIHS
In the event, EU-LAC Resinfra was represented by one of its four pilots, the E-RIHS (European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science) through the intervention of its scientific coordinator Luca Pezzatti. E-RIHS is an organization that enables the research community to use specific facilities, resources, and services that are geographically scattered, giving access to facilities, resources, and services in the field of Heritage Science across Europe.
On this occasion, we are happy to introduce you to two important collaborators and close partners of our project. Meet Claudia Romano and Fernando Amestoy up next:
1. From your perspective, how do you assess the progress of the ResInfra Project in terms of objectives and achievements so far?
The ResInfra program has made substantial progress in terms of consolidating a European and Latin American coordination space, both at a political and technical level, with regard to the subject of research infrastructures. The main achievements could be measured in some way in the political sphere, in which it stands out having been represented at the last meeting of the highest authorities of science, technology and innovation of Europe and Latin America (SOM). On that occasion, specifically, recognition was made of the work that the ResInfra project has been developing.
On the other hand, the importance that the political and technical authorities of both Europe and Latin America have assigned to the project is highlighted.
Likewise, we highlight the holding of thematic workshops in the following areas: health, energy, biodiversity and climate change, food security and emerging technologies. More than 200 representatives of research infrastructures from Europe and Latin America, scientists, technicians and policy makers participated in them, who had the opportunity to meet and exchange experiences.
Added to this is the holding of a workshop in which renowned scientists from the Pasteur Institute of Montevideo and the Instruct-ERIC in the United Kingdom presented success stories generated from the work of the Project.
For the development of these workshops, the active participation of the Technical Secretary of the CELAC-EU Research Infrastructures Working Group was counted on.
2. How has the project been able to contribute to the creation of bi-regional collaboration spaces in Infrastructures?
The project contributed to the generation of spaces for dialogue between the main actors involved both at a scientific, technical, and political level in both regions. It is impossible to generate spaces for collaboration if the main actors linked to research infrastructures are unaware of the work being done in the LAC region and in the US. For this reason, the task of having identified the main research infrastructures that both regions have has been fundamental in this collaborative process. Their research lines were identified, such as their use and their potential, a key aspect for the creation of these spaces.
The work carried out by the pilots contributes to the generation of spaces for bi-regional collaboration through specific initiatives that demonstrate that EU-LAC collaboration is ´possible and necessary.
In addition, the signing of agreements of interest (MOU) between different research infrastructures in both regions is another collaborative factor.
3. Regarding the Working Group on Research in Infrastructures, how do you consider that the WG has contributed to promoting the establishment of the Common Research Area (CRA) in the context of EU-CELAC and how do you expect the EU-LAC ResInfra project can contribute to the construction of this space?
The existence of the Working Group is of singular importance to create, maintain and stimulate relationships in the area of research infrastructures. The reasons are various, firstly and as is widely known, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years have undergone processes of change at the political level which have occurred more frequently than in Europe.
The existence of this Group allows for a fluid dialogue with the highest authorities of science and technology, since it is in charge, through its technical secretary, of requesting the countries to designate their representatives to work in it and informs them to the new authorities what has been done in the group. This allows the work to be sustainable over time despite the political and technical changes that are taking place in the various countries of the two regions. Therefore, the work carried out by the Secretariat of the Working Group, which is located in the AUCI, is key so that the sustainability of this process is maintained over time. The two people responsible for it are the Manager of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation, Claudia Romano and Maite Irazábal, who from Uruguay have supported in the coordination of all the aforementioned events and try to be in daily contact with all the actors of both regions. Undoubtedly, the existence of a team of technicians that manages to maintain the Working Group and give continuity to this common area of research
4. What are the challenges for 2022 to give it sustainability in the future?
From ResInfra and as one of the deliverables of work package N°5, we are working together with the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain (MICINN) to achieve the sustainability of the project. We based this effort on two lines, an institutional policy and the other technical. Regarding institutional politics, we highlight the search for support from the authorities in science and technology, on the other hand, continuing to put this issue on the SOM's agenda so that it can be visualized, recognized, and reflected on its importance. The other line of work has to do with the strengthening of the working group as a specialized field on the subject of research infrastructures.
At a technical level, we have thought of different strategies. It is key to maintain and strengthen ties with other networks such as Latin American and Caribbean Network of National Contact Points (LAC NCP Network), Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (CLARA Network ), Ibero-American Program of Science and Technology for Development (CYTED), Open Forum of Sciences of Latin America and the Caribbean (CILAC), ENRICH in LAC, Thematic Network called the Ibero-American High-Performance Computing Network (RICAP), the International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI), the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) and Scientists for Future (S4F) International, among others.
It is also important to highlight the role that we want in order to be able to participate in new calls for the Horizon Europe program. In particular, we want to promote the possibility of participating in a mobility program through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) in which some of the project partners participate.
1. How do you see the work of the Working Group so far? What have been some of your achievements and contributions?
The EU-CELAC research infrastructure group has remained active despite the fact that the 2020-2021 period presented significant health barriers that limited the mobility of researchers and generated the need to implement virtual communication mechanisms. In particular, bi-regional exchange meetings stand out, taking into account the prioritization made in October 2020 at the VIII Meeting of Senior Science and Technology Officials of the JIRI: mobility of researchers, cooperation in research infrastructures, global challenges - particularly health, environmental aspects of the sustainable development/green transition and digital transformation, and innovation. In June 2021, a three-day virtual symposium that brought together delegates from Research Infrastructure (IR), science policy organizations and research institutions to discuss opportunities and challenges for cooperation between Latin America and Europe was held between June 15 and 17. This event made it possible to identify and discuss the current challenges of bi-regional cooperation in order to initiate new collaborations and strengthen existing ones.
At an operational level, although much remains to be done, the EU-LAC RESINFRA project, coordinated by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, showed that the research infrastructure pillar is closely linked to the mobility of researchers, the development of open science processes and open innovation on issues prioritized by the two regions. At this point, the important role played by RI in biotechnology was highlighted, where the available capacities and the rapid orientation of research activities were an important differential to contribute to the solution of the health crisis caused by SARS-COVID. In summary, the EU-LAC RESINFRA project made it possible to leverage and coordinate existing scientific and academic networks, and promote events capable of attracting people from both regions on relevant topics, contributing to the construction and realization of a joint agenda between Latin America and Europe.
2. How has the COVID-19 crisis-affected bi-regional collaboration in RI? Have activities been defined to compensate for these challenges?
As mentioned before, the health crisis had a very important impact on national innovation systems. In the Latin American case, the heterogeneity of the regional economies and the different maturity of the innovation systems make it difficult to generalize the lessons learned, although it can be mentioned that the networks on biotechnology and ICTs were strengthened. These were quickly oriented to the search for solutions and added value to overcome the pandemic. The economies of all countries were
strongly impacted, and spending had to be restricted and concentrated on mitigating the effects of the pandemic, which is why in many cases there are restrictions on R&D financing, mainly in countries with more immature innovation ecosystems. . Other infrastructures, such as those specialized in marine science or biodiversity issues, saw their objectives delayed and with significant limitations in activities that required presence (oceanographic campaigns, field trips to collect samples, laboratory work, etc.). Despite this, the project made it possible to maintain these operational networks and generated virtual exchange spaces with the support of ICTs.
3. How has the WG contributed to promoting the establishment of the Common Research Area (CRA) in the context of EU-CELAC and how do you hope that the EU-LAC ResInfra project can contribute to the construction of this space?
The WG directed its initial efforts in prioritizing topics of interest, managing to define a common agenda at the Latin American level in order to coordinate with the European counterpart. In just three years of joint efforts, the EU-CELAC Working Group has led to new cooperation agreements, strengthening the environmental conditions to boost research infrastructures, with the challenge of involving them in agendas defined as strategic development, of social or environmental importance. At the cooperation policy level, the need to achieve win-win relationships by promoting open innovation and sustainable development among the regions is reaffirmed.
The Resinfra project is a proof of concept of the aforementioned and promotes new dynamics of cooperation in the EU-CELAC framework, sharing lessons learned and promoting virtuous relationships between agents to add value in production chains, in solving environmental problems, and processes. In the last year, the project has just developed its governance structures and promotion of outreach, as well as deployed new communication instruments in view of the reduction in the mobility of researchers caused by the health crisis. In the next year, through these collaborations, it is expected that Resinfra will allow for the deepening of the relationship with European research and innovation consortia (ERIC), such as Life Watch so that the selected research infrastructures can define a portfolio of projects to promote the bi-regional cooperation, researcher mobility, and innovation.
4. What are your expectations for the future of bi-regional collaboration on IR and how do you see the next steps and a path of sustainability for the EU-LAC collaboration?
It would be important to concentrate efforts on having a successful closure of the Resinfra program, so greater cooperation efforts should be channeled into the networks that it is promoting, mainly on issues of biotechnology, biodiversity, energy, food safety, and marine science. These environments, at the European level, are driven by the ERICs and are very mature, but at the Latin American level, further, development is still necessary. The EU-CELAC program has generated important contributions in this regard that should be complemented with South-South cooperation activities, and coordinating efforts with other Ibero-American programs such as CYTED or the new initiatives that SEGIB is implementing in technological cooperation
EU-LAC RESINFRA is a project funded by Horizon 2020 (EU Framework Programme for R&I) with the goal of enhancing bi-regional collaboration between European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region.
By making use of extant collaboration experience, EU-LAC RESINFRA is stimulating joint research actions and promoting the access to high level scientific instruments, methods and data, as well as the exchange of best practices regarding research infrastructures management.
For all the news and activities related to EU-LAC ResInfra, please visit our website Contact us at: