Encouraging scientific partnerships in Europe and worldwide
Strengthening scientific cooperation across Europe and worldwide is one of ANR’s missions. The priorities include supporting French teams in their international collaborations, providing joint responses to global problems, pooling resources and technologies and building strategic partnerships around major knowledge challenges. Aligned with European and international initiatives, ANR deploys four categories of funding instruments: PRCI (one of the AAPG instruments), bilateral and multilateral calls for proposals, MRSEI and TERC.
co-funded in 2019, 19% of the projects funded by ANR, receiving €82 million
Since its foundation, the Agency has co-funded over 2,500 transnational projects with its foreign counterpart agencies. In 2019, it devoted a budget of over €82 million to co-funding French teams involved in 298 transnational projects, 84% of which were arranged with European partners.
The Sargassum Call: an international collaboration
in response to a major environmental crisis
Since 2017, the coasts of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico have been facing a serious environmental crisis: a huge influx of sargassum seaweed. This brown seaweed has a major impact on people’s health and on biodiversity. The economic impact, particularly on tourism, is also considerable, amounting to several million euros a year. To provide pragmatic solutions to the build-up of sargassum on beaches and develop scientific knowledge about the phenomenon, MESRI has commissioned ANR to launch a call for proposals jointly with Ademe, the regional governments of Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Martinique and Brazilian agencies (FAPESP and FACEPE) as part of France’s national plan to prevent and combat sargassum. The Sargassum Research Development and Innovation call illustrates the benefit of responding quickly to high-stakes societal issues through international collaboration. The 12 projects selected for financial support totalling €8.5 million were presented in June at an international conference in Guadeloupe attended by Frédérique Vidal, the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe.
PRCI: an AAPG instrument
supporting bilateral collaborations
International Collaborative Research Projects (PRCI)1 aim to strengthen bilateral collaboration between French and foreign research teams. In 2019, the PRCI instrument co-funded 92 projects with nine countries: Austria, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan. The instrument also contributes to the construction of the European Research Area (ERA) through non-thematic collaborations with major European partners. This has benefited 51 bilateral projects with Germany, a special partner.
International collaborations on priority themes:
Developing the excellence of French teams in sectors with strong economic potential or significant sovereignty issues is one of the major goals of the international calls for proposals. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of these priority themes. In 2019, support for the priority given to AI via international collaborations took the form of two calls for proposals. The first arose from a cooperation agreement between France (ANR), Germany (DFG) and Japan (JST). This trilateral call aims to stimulate transnational collaboration to conduct basic AI research covering the issues of ethics, trust and transparency raised by the technology. AI is also at the heart of a CHIST-ERA ERA-NET call: “The explainability of artificial intelligence based on machine learning” was identified as one of the 2019 call’s two themes. ANR has been coordinating this European partnership since 2011. It aims to reinforce disruptive international multidisciplinary research collaborations in information and communication science and technology. Within this multi-year framework, the Agency has co-funded 56 projects on priority emerging themes in the field of digital sciences.
Reinforcing the European Research Area
A major player in the construction of the European Research Area (ERA), ANR works with other European project-based funding agencies to develop actions, programmes and calls for proposals that complete and reinforce the initiatives conducted through the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FPRI). Its goals are to coordinate the funding opportunities available within the European Union and provide joint responses to global challenges (climate, water resource management, sustainable agriculture, demographic change, neurodegenerative diseases, antibiotic resistance etc.). These programmes and their transnational calls are implemented through European public-public partnerships (P2P) such as ERA-NET Cofund, Article 185, EJP, CSA or the 10 Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs).
Antimicrobial resistance: a priority supported by two strategic French-German calls and JPI-AMR
A global threat to human, animal and environmental health, antimicrobial resistance is a national priority. It is central to AAPG and several European research actions, including JPI-AMR (AntiMicrobial Resistance), founded in 2010 by France and 27 other European countries. ANR has co-funded 28 projects and three networks through this programme. In 2018 and 2019, complementing JPI-AMR, ANR launched two French-German calls for proposals on antimicrobial resistance on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Each country provided €7 million to implement French-German collaborations focusing on human infections. The calls emphasised the expected impact of the research results on current public health policy and the development of innovative products. Eight research projects were selected following the fi rst call for proposals.
Science Europe and the Global Research Council
ANR plays an active part in discussions on European science policy and contributes to Science Europe, the association of funding agencies and research organisations in 27 European countries. It is involved in the preparation of Horizon Europe through Science Europe, in addition to its participation at national level through MESRI and its work with the European Commission. The Agency also takes part in working groups on open science and the management of data arising from research. Thierry Damerval, ANR’s CEO, has been a member of the Science Europe Governing Board since November 2019. The Agency is also involved in the Global Research Council (GRC). These two international bodies are forums for discussing and setting the direction of broad science policy.
In 2019, ANR took part in 24 calls for European public partnerships and funded the French partners in 163 projects with a total of €40.5 million. European networks managed by member states, the Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs)1 lie at the heart of the European Research Area: each JPI defines a joint strategic research and innovation agenda within its field of interest and can launch multilateral calls for proposals. ANR is represented on the governing bodies of eight JPIs, chairs the Water JPI and is vice-chair of FACCE-JPI. Finally, the strategic partnership between France and Germany is also formalised within the construction of the European Research Area. In 2019, the two countries co-funded 29 French-German projects with €10.6 million through specific cooperation agreements.
Reinforcing the participation of French teams
in European calls: MRSEI and Springboard-ERC
Setting Up European or International Scientific Networks (MRSEI) and Springboard-ERC (T-ERC): these two schemes are designed to reinforce the participation of French teams in European Union calls for proposals. The first aims to support the creation and French coordination of a scientific network to take part in the European Horizon 2020 framework programme. In 2019, 56 MRSEI networks were funded. The second aims to encourage French applicants to re-submit their projects to European Research Council calls while improving their chances of success. These calls support advanced exploratory research based on original, innovative approaches.
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