Brussels, 04 Feb 2003
Nine research institutions from Europe and beyond have joined together to form the Global Research Alliance, aimed at using their collective skills for the 'global good'.
The alliance between developed and developing countries will address the world's most pressing problems, particularly in the areas of water, health, energy, transport and the digital divide. A number of 'technology fusion workshops' will be held in the coming months to exchange ideas about water and energy research.
'The potential of the GRA [Global Research Alliance] is quite enormous,' Dr Reinie Biesenbach told CORDIS News. 'The strength lies in its diversity [...]. The combination of world class research institutions with a regional relevance makes a unique synergy,' he added.
Representing the EU are the Danish Technological Institute, Germany's Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Finland's Technical Research Centre (VTT) and the Netherlands organisation for applied scientific research. They are joined by research organisations from Australia, India, Malaysia, the United States and South Africa, where the alliance will be based. Between them, these organisations boast over 50,000 scientists.
Speaking to CORDIS News, Dr Biesenbach explained how the alliance hopes to build closer ties with the EU. A delegation has already visited the Commission's Research, Enterprise and Information Society DGs in order to discuss possible collaboration, and the director of Finland's VTT presented the initiative to Commissioner Liikanen during a recent visit by the Commissioner to Helsinki. One idea for closer collaboration is participation in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), with one of the GRA's members coordinating a project.
Dr Biesenbach would also like to see his alliance become a new 'discussion partner' for the European Commission in areas such as the digital divide, in which some of its members have great experience. 'I think we can bring a different perspective to such a debate,' said Dr Biesenbach.
Another way in which interaction between the alliance and the EU is foreseen is the organisation of joint workshops.
The alliance will bid for large research projects put out to tender by national or international agencies, but Dr Biesenbach would also like to see the consortium initiating its own projects. 'We want to have an active role,' he said. All projects undertaken will be expected to have a significant impact on society and will contain high innovation content.
Ragunath Mashelkar, head of India's council of scientific and industrial research, who launched the initiative in New Delhi, India, in January, has explained the rationale behind establishing such a diverse alliance. 'We are joined by our dedication to servicing the greater good through innovation and research. Alone, we can each have tremendous impact in the countries we serve. Now, together, we can serve the greater sphere of mankind.'
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