By Prof. Manfred Horvat, JPI Urban Europe, Senior Advisor for International S&T Cooperation
In September and October 2015, two missions were performed in the context of preparing the ground towards launching a Joint Call between ENSCC funding agencies and Chinese funding partners (Work Package 6a). The timing of the missions was attuned with the preparation of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) of the JPI Urban Europe that was presented in the European Parliament end of September.
Manfred Horvat from Vienna University of Technology and Ralf König from the Austrian Research promotion Agency (FFG) undertook the first mission to Beijing from 5 to 10 September that was of an exploratory nature. The aim was to establish contacts with main possible partner organisations in China and to provide them with first information about the objectives and activities of the JPI. It turned out to be important to inform Chinese partners about the relation between the JPI and Horizon 2020 and the complementary nature of the two programmes. In addition, first advance information about the research themes as identified in the SRIA could be provided.
During the September visit, Manfred and Ralf successfully completed a tight programme by meeting the relevant contact persons at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and the China Science and Technology Cooperation Exchange Centre (CSTEC). In addition, a meeting with the Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences (RCEES) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) was arranged as well as telephone and email contacts with the Development Research Centre (DRC) and the China Centre for Urban development (CCUD).
It was a fortunate co-insistence that during the visit also a high-level event on “Promoting Excellence through Enhanced EU-China Researchers’ Mobility and Cooperation” took place in the Chinese Academy of Sciences that attracted more than 300 participants and brought together a high number of authorities, experts, researchers and innovators from China and Europe which was an excellent opportunity for networking and spreading information about JJPI Urban Europe. Commissioner Carlos Moedas emphasised the strategic importance of EU-China cooperation in the area of research and innovation. Vice Minister Cao Jianlin introduced the new co-funding mechanism for research and innovation in Horizon 2020, as a result of the 17th EU-China Summit. This mechanism has the potential to substantially boost the cooperation between our two regions.
In all meetings, Chinese partners referred to well established and successful contacts and joint activities with Europe – with the European Commission as well as with individual EU Member States. There is certainly substantial interest to work with European partners and to extend the cooperative activities. The Joint Programming Initiative is interesting because of offering the opportunity working together with several programme owners and managers at the same time which widens the scale and scope of collaborative activities to a multi-lateral level.
Between 24 and 31 October, a JPI delegation travelled to Beijing: Margit Noll from AIT, Hans-Guenther Schwarz from BMVIT, Manfred Horvat, Ralf König and Elli Stepanovic also from FFG. The visiting programme encompassed the same organisations as during the first visit and, in addition, the delegation was able to meet representatives of CCUD as well as Prof. Siegfried Wu and colleagues from the CIUC China Intelligent Urbanisation Co-Creation Center for High Density Regions at Tongji University and delegates from EUPIC in Chengdu.
On the basis of the JPI’s SRIA, details of the research themes were presented and discussed with the Chinese colleagues thus describing the frame of European interests. It was agreed, that in the next steps, the Chinese colleagues will explore where there are areas of joint interests. The New Urbanisation Plan (2014-2020) as well as urbanisation aspects in the forthcoming 13th Five-Year Plan for Science and Technology will be the basis for selecting areas where Chinese researchers will have specific interest for cooperation with European colleagues.
For early spring, it is envisaged to organise appropriate events where on the one hand scientists from the EU and China will be able to meet for finding partners for joint projects and – on the other hand – Chinese research funders will discuss with European partners the operational issues related to jointly organised calls for proposals.