There has been strong global interest in the Australian and New Zealand launch of the European Union’s $150 billion Horizon Europe programme. More than 1500 people from 43 countries registered for the webinar organised by EURAXESS Australia & New Zealand in conjunction with the EU delegations in Australia and New Zealand. To watch the event click here.
The event was held on 24 August 2021 with the Director for International Cooperation in Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Maria Cristina Russo, delivering the keynote address.
“We are speaking here of the biggest research and innovation multilateral programme in the world,” she told the large online gathering. She explained Horizon Europe was designed to find scientific solutions to the EU’s priority areas such as the EU Green Deal and the pandemic response. She said the Antipodes had an “impressive” track record in participating in EU scientific and innovative initiatives with more than 350 Australians, and more than 70 New Zealanders, participating in the recently completed Horizon2020 programme. These projects covered a wide range of topics including developing marine ecosystem networks and the impact of energy economics on climate change.
Ms Russo said the details for the first tranche of Horizon Europe projects had been released with “several topics that specifically target the participation of researchers from Australia and New Zealand” to tackle global issues such as climate action and Covid-19. The Director explained Australia and New Zealand had the opportunity, for the first time, to associate with Horizon Europe and be treated equally with Member State entities when applying for funds. She noted the Group of Eight University organisation in Australia and the European Australian Business Council had expressed strong support for Australia to associate with Horizon Europe.
Ms Russo joined the EU Ambassador to Australia, Michael Pulch, who made introductory remarks at the launch, in stressing Horizon Europe provided an important opportunity to further advance the EU-Australia bilateral relationship.
Dr Pulch said science was an obvious addition to bilateral cooperation alongside the proposed EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the Framework Agreement and the EU’s soon-to-be released Indo-Pacific Strategy.
“Scientific cooperation between like-minded countries has never been as important as it is today,” Dr Pulch told the webinar.
“The pandemic has demonstrated it was, and continues to be, that like-minded countries have been able to develop our own vaccinations and are not dependent on deliveries from other countries.
“European and Australian scientists have made a significant contribution to meet the global challenge and, by the way, the EU has become the largest exporter of vaccines to Australia.”
The Ambassador made a special point of the recent report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change being a wake-up call on the need for researchers and innovators around the globe to find solutions to the environmental crisis.
EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand is now planning information days for interested parties to learn more about Horizon Europe’s specific opportunities.