• Aug 27 2012

    Ways to start collaboration with European partners

    Dear Colleagues

    Are you looking for ways to start collaboration with European partners?

    A number of researchers have asked about the EU's COST Actions. SU is involved in seven Actions so we have a reasonable amount of experience.

    COST started before the Framework Programmes (FP) and is described as:

    COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level.

    As a precursor of advanced multidisciplinary research, COST plays a very important role in building a European Research Area (ERA). It anticipates and complements the activities of the EU Framework Programmes, constituting a "bridge" towards the scientific communities of emerging countries. It also increases the mobility of researchers across Europe and fosters the establishment of scientific excellence in the nine key domains:

    - Biomedicines and Molecular Biosciences
    - Individuals, Societies, Cultures and Health
    - Chemistry and Molecular Sciences
    - Information and Communication Technologies
    - Food and Agriculture
    - Materials, Physics and Nano sciences
    - Earth System Science and Environmental Management
    - Transport and Urban Management
    - Forests their products and Services

    It aims to bring together groups of researchers in workshops and discussion groups, especially to explore certain activities in the respective fields of expertise.

    Becoming a COST partner has long term benefits, principally in that the researcher works with some of the best organisations in their field. This allows the participant to develop relationships which can open up FP project proposals. (We already have one that is beginning to do that where the coordinator of the COST Action is putting together a consortium for a Thematic proposal.)

    How do you become a partner?

    The following is from the ESASTAP website with some of our own additions:

    Step 1: Choosing a COST Action

    1) As usual, the best way is that an existing Action Chair or participant knows you and asks you to join.

    2) Visit www.cost.esf.org to view all COST Actions and contact details of all Chairs. Please note that there are no due dates for applications for as long as an Action is current. Look carefully, there is little point in joining an Action which will close shortly.

    3) Look at the nine domains and their projects, search through the domains and see if there are any which are relevant to your field and where you believe you can benefit and make a contribution. Contact the Action Chair (the Chair differs per Action and contacts are available on the COST site) and the COST Science Officer Melae Langbein (mlangbein@cost.esf.org), and explain your interest, your experience and what you can contribute. Request a non-COST country application template from the COST Science Officer.

    Step 2: Send the completed application template and a letter of motivation to the Action Chair and the COST Science Officer. You will need a letter of support from the university, DRD can assist you with this.

    Step 3: The Action's Management Committee, the relevant Domain Committee, and the executive group of the COST Committee of Senior Officials will evaluate your application.

    1. You receive confirmation by email
    2. You are asked to create an online e-COST registration
    3. You appear on the COST website as a non-COST country Action participant


    It does not support research and is funded by each partner country, not from general EU funding. In our case DST have a specific funding model which we can help you with (http://www.esastap.org.za/funding/cost.php). This funds the normal travel, subsistence costs etc but not man-power. You will need to use the S&T rates shown on the ESASTAP web site. This is how it is described:

    A once off payment of R100 000.00 will be transferred on an annual basis upon receipt of the first application for the year, and funds are to be used for the COST Action activities of the year of application.?

    A restriction is that each visit is limited to R50 000 so you have to plan your meetings for the year carefully. DST will require a contract for the Action, DRD can help you here. Your first meeting will not usually give you time to get the DST funds so you will have to use your own funds to initiate the process. You will recover these funds from the R100 000 once this has been transferred. You need to report back within 30 days of a visit and the form for reporting is on the ESASTAP site.

    Please contact Lizél Kleingbiel (lizelk@sun.ac.za) or myself.


    Dr Geoff Meese
    European Union Framework Programme 7
    Division of Research Development
    Stellenbosch University
    Mobile: +27 (0) 82 461 6752