On the 20th of December, the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, announced the “EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration” (ES:GC2) conference. It will be hosted in March 2013 at the European Parliament, in association with the Irish Council Presidency. Part of this conference will be a dinner and a workshop of the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) and its European Parliament’s Group.
The five-day conference “EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration”, starting on 4th March 2013 in Brussels, will place EU research at the centre of the scientific response to global challenges, bringing together scientists and science policymakers from 100 countries. These challenges are transnational in nature and trans-institutional in solution. They cannot be addressed by any one government or institution acting alone. They require collaborative action among governments, international organizations, corporations, universities, NGOs, and creative individuals. AERAP is following the same collaborative approach in the field of radio astronomy, a discipline which can have an effective role in science capacity building and economic development.
At the official announcement of the ES:GC2 conference in Dublin, Enda Kenny was especially excited about the ICT challenges of modern radio astronomy: “This is really a project for the future. I understand that the computers that are going to be used for radio astronomy projects in South Africa haven’t even been invented yet, which is astounding.”
Daan du Toit, from the South African Department of Science and Technology and one of the AERAP initiators, said: “There are a number of priority areas, such as radio astronomy, in which South Africa and Europe are collaborating. This conference will further enhance mutual beneficial research and innovation partnerships between Africa and Europe. We are particularly excited at the opportunities the conference offers for advancing African-European Partnerships on radio astronomy as promoted by AERAP.”
Within the margins of the conference, on the 6th of March, the European Parliament’s AERAP Group will meet for a dinner with AERAP members. On this occasion the Group, which consist of several senior MEP’s, will review an AERAP framework programme for cooperation AERAP and discuss how the European Parliament can contribute to its implementation. This AERAP framework programme for cooperation will build on the outcomes of the successful events held in 2012 to define strategic objectives, specific actions and suitable funding opportunities for the future of African-European radio astronomy cooperation. A workshop on the afternoon of the 6th and morning of the 7th of March will bring together researchers, engineers, industry and funders to discuss in further detail the priority actions identified by the AERAP framework programme for cooperation.
Ian Jones, CEO of Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. in England and active AERAP member stressed that science and innovation are key to overcoming the economic crisis: “I think having an EU Science conference is imperative and next year is a really important time in which to do it. In a time of recession and of trying to balance budgets science is one of those areas which is really boosting the economy. And particularly the area we’re involved in, which is the space sector, has been growing ten per cent a year for each of the last ten years, it’s been really recession busting so it’s important for us to get along and collaborate with other European partners and to build science projects”.
Coordination is provided by ISC Intelligence in Science as one of the initiators of AERAP, together with the South African Mission to the EU.
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