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BRAIN-be - International cooperation

International cooperation

The BRAIN-be programme makes it possible to participate, according to the priorities of the thematic axis, in transnational programmes, such as the ERA-NETs and Joint-Programming Initiatives (JPI).


The ERA-NET scheme is a highly innovative component of the European Union's (EU) Framework Programmes.

The ERA-NET is designed to encourage the creation of close, long-term links between national research programmes with shared goals.

In the short term it will facilitate to exchange views and good practices on regional, national and European research programmes in specific fields.

In the long term, ERA-NETs are expected to lead to more sustained forms of collaboration, including the strategic planning and design of joint research programmes, the reciprocal opening of national research programmes to researchers from other member countries, and the launch of fully transnational programmes jointly funded by more than one country.

BELSPO is currently involved in three ERA-NETs relevant for the BRAIN-be programme:

1. Towards integrated European marine research strategy and programmes (SEAS-ERA)
SEAS-ERA, as an overarching marine FP7 ERA-NET, is of strategic importance for the European Research Area. Several European strategic fora (e.g. ESFRI) and European Commission’s Communications (e.g. Communication on Joint programming – 2008) have emphasised marine research as a field where major synergistic benefits can be reached by improving the coordination of research and infrastructure investments. SEAS-ERA overall objective is to facilitate the establishment of a stable and durable structure for strengthening marine research across the European Sea Basins. To do so the project brings together 20 major European Marine Research Funding Organisations from 20 countries in the basin regions of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and the Marine Board-ESF.
SEAS-ERA aims to:

  • contribute to setting up of a European Marine and Maritime Research Agenda and develop a stable European overarching operational structure for its implementation
  • enhance cooperation between Member States and avoid fragmentation by fostering synergies at regional and European levels towards achievement of Joint Programming
  • propose a plan for a better and sustainable use of Marine Research Infrastructures
  • improve science development and its utilization in Europe through human capacity building
  • enhance public awareness of marine and maritime scientific and policy issues in Europe

2. Cooperation and shared strategies for biodiversity research programmes in Europe (BIODIVERSA2)
The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems are major scientific and societal challenges. Addressing them and providing scientific support to policy requires a coherent research framework, with coordinated strategies and programmes at the regional and international levels, which are the relevant scales for many biodiversity issues. By networking 21 funding agencies from 15 countries, BiodivERsA2 aims to strengthen the ERA on biodiversity. Building on the experience of the ERA-Net BiodivERsA, but with a wider, more balanced network, BiodivERsA2 will promote a strategy for biodiversity research, in partnership with other players in the field, and will organize joint funding to better integrate biodiversity science.
The objectives are to:

  • develop an efficient agenda-setting mechanism for joint activities (including joint calls), taking into account existing research strategies and agendas at international levels along with national and institutional priorities
  • instate a recurrent and visible funding opportunity for transnational biodiversity research projects
  • play an active role in the processes and interfaces to inform policy and users
  • prepare the establishment of a sustainable, independent funding platform for biodiversity research

3. ERA-net + Heritage Plus
Heritage Plus is an Era-Net plus action which will support the JPICH by proposing concrete solutions for pooling national expertise and resources and establishing closer and robust collaboration among the participating States in the field of cultural heritage.

The Heritage Plus action will improve the coordination of national research and policies in the domain of cultural heritage research.

The main objective of the Heritage Plus proposal is to pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national programmes and the European Community and to launch a single Joint Call for Proposals for research projects in the cultural heritage field that will be evaluated and managed jointly by the participating programmes.

JPI - Joint Programming initiative

The Joint Programming Initiative (JPI), a concept introduced by the European Commission in July 2008, is one of the five initiatives for implementing the European Research Area (ERA). The aim of JPI is to increase the value of relevant national and EU R&D funding by concerted and joint planning, implementation and evaluation of national research programmes. Within the concept of Joint Programming, Member States shall coordinate national research activities, bundle resources, benefit from complementarities and develop common research agendas, in order to face the grand societal challenges – all in variable geometry and therefore on a voluntary basis. Joint Programming intends to tackle the challenges that cannot be solved solely on the national level and allows Member States to participate in those joint initiatives that seem useful for them.

The Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI) in which BELSPO is participating are:

1. JPI Climate
JPI Climate is a collaboration between 14 European countries to coordinate jointly their climate research and fund new transnational research initiatives. JPI Climate connects scientific disciplines, enables cross-border research and increases the science-practice interaction.

JPI Climate contributes to the overall EU objective of developing a European Research Area and is coordinated with the EU’s Horizon2020 programme in support of excellent science, industrial leadership and the European response to one of the great societal challenges of our times - climate change.

2. JPI More Years, Better Lives
The Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) "More Years, Better Lives - The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change" seeks to enhance coordination and collaboration between European and national research programmes related to demographic change.
Areas affected by demographic change cover a wide range of research fields and policy topics ranging from health to social welfare, education & learning, work & productivity to housing, urban & rural development and mobility. The JPI therefore follows a transnational, multi-disciplinary approach bringing together different research programmes and researchers from various disciplines in order to provide solutions for the upcoming challenges and make use of the potential of societal change in Europe.

Currently 13 European countries and Canada are participating in the JPI „More Years, Better Lives“.

3. JPI Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (Oceans)
The Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) is a coordinating and integrating long-term platform, open to all EU Member States and Associated Countries who invest in marine and maritime research. While bringing together the interested Member States and Associated Countries the JPI Oceans aims to add value by: - avoiding fragmentation and unnecessary duplication - planning common and flexible initiatives - facilitating cooperation and foresighting - establishing efficient mechanisms for interaction and knowledge transfer between the scientific community, industry & services, and policy makers at high level to more effectively solve the grand challenges. In its role as a coordination platform, JPI Oceans will focus on making better and more efficient use of national research budgets, which represent 85% of the marine-maritime funding within Europe. One of the JPI’s goals is to develop joint research programs in which countries can be involved on a voluntarily basis (variable geometry). Participating countries will also decide what contribution to make: this may include institutional, project-related or new funds.

4. JPI Cultural Heritage and Global Change
Protection of cultural heritage in the face of global change is becoming a major concern for decision-makers, stakeholders and citizens in Europe. Research into strategies, methodologies and tools is needed to safeguard cultural heritage against continuous decay. Before irreversible damage is done, concerted actions, based on sound science, are needed to protect, strengthen and adapt Europe’s unique cultural patrimony.


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