EU and Russia strengthen research ties

Russian scientists have been collaborating with their colleagues from the EU for decades. In 2005, EU-Russia scientific cooperation was given a boost when EU Science and Research Commissioner
Janez Potocnik and his Russian counterpart, Andrei Fursenko, agreed to work towards a common EU-Russian vision for research.

One of the areas singled out for cooperation is agro-bio-food. On a trip to Brussels to discuss future cooperation in this field with the European Commission, Inna Bilenkina, Deputy Head of
Russia’s Federal Agency for Science and Innovation, outlined her organisation’s role in supporting Russian research activities.

‘From 2008, scientific research will be supported by two large scale programmes,’ she told CORDIS News. The first will support research and development activities in five priority areas. Around
40% of the funds have been allocated to the field of new materials and nanotechnologies, while 25% will go to the life sciences and biotechnology. The remaining funds are set to be split
between the thematic areas of energy and energy efficiency, rational nature use and information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The second programme is dedicated to the industrial development of nanotechnologies and new materials.

According to Ms Bilenkina, these priorities reflect the areas where the Russian scientific community has great potential in terms of both infrastructure and well-qualified people.

International cooperation is a major priority for the agency. There is a high level of interest in the EU’s framework programmes in Russia, and the Federal Agency for Science and Innovation
publishes information on them on their website. In addition to the EU, Russian scientists work extensively with researchers from the countries of the former Soviet Union as well as the US,
China and India.

‘We make available significant amounts of money for the implementation of joint programmes,’ explained Mrs Bilenkina. ‘In this year alone, our agency has supported 80 joint projects with
Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Italy.’ Support is made available on a competitive basis and on the condition that the foreign partner is supported by its own authorities with an amount equal to
the funding granted to the project by the Russian agency.

Progress towards deeper cooperation in the field of agro-bio-food research is going well, Ms Bilenkina noted. The two parties have worked to identify areas of common interest, as well as topics
where cooperation could take place. At a recent meeting in Russia, they agreed to further intensify their cooperation.

According to Ms Bilenkina, the success of the EU-Russia cooperation in agro-bio-food is due in no small part to the commitment and enthusiasm of Christian Patermann, who until recently was
Director for ‘Biotechnologies, agriculture and food’ research within the European Commission, and the Russian National Contact Point.

‘Another important factor in this context is the fact that biotechnology is one of the main priorities of our own programmes in Russia, and Russia is clearly in a globally very competitive
situation and has something to offer in this area,’ added Ms Bilenkina.

Ms Bilenkina is clear about the advantages to both sides of international scientific cooperation. ‘We proceed from the fact that by combining our resources and combining our forces, we are able
to achieve better results that are to the benefit of both parties as well as global interest in general,’ she said.

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