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Scientific cooperation

Fostering collaboration in R&D with COST Actions

In today’s world, collaboration in research and development is crucial for scientific and technological progress. Therefore, networking activities, training, seminars, and other events conducted by researchers play a key role. A notable example of this are the actions of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST). Funded by the EU, this initiative promotes collaboration and knowledge exchange between researchers and practitioners from different European countries.

The advantages of cooperation are many. Collaboration paves the way to overcome individual barriers and access a broader knowledge base. This dynamic also enables the convergence of diverse perspectives and approaches, helping to raise both the quality and relevance of research. Collaboration additionally drives technology transfer, accelerating the transformation of scientific advances into practical applications. Moreover, it maximises the impact of research by addressing relevant issues and promoting the adoption of results. By avoiding duplication of effort and optimising resource allocation, further efficiencies are achieved.

R&D cooperation is essential in addressing global challenges and creating effective and sustainable solutions. This not only boosts innovation, but also generates a far-reaching positive impact on society.

The scientific community at the heart of the COST Actions

Along the same lines, COST Actions focus on specific thematic areas and bring together experts from different disciplines to address common problems and develop innovative solutions. One of their main characteristics is their inclusive approach. Unlike other research funding programmes, COST Actions do not focus on individual projects, but encourage the creation of long-term collaborative networks. Researchers can join them and participate in working groups, workshops, conferences, and meetings, where they share knowledge, exchange ideas, and establish fruitful collaborations.

COST Actions thus provide funding for activities in the field of researcher mobility, the organisation of scientific events, and joint seminars and publications, among many others. The approach is bottom-up, which means that the scientific community generates the themes and proposals itself and that they are completely open.

These programmes require the participation of at least seven partners (researchers from academia, SMEs, public institutions and other relevant organisations or stakeholders) from different EU countries and associated members, ensuring diverse representation and exchange at transnational level. Its geographical distribution includes less research-intensive members such as Albania, Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are part of the Inclusion Target Countries, together with 22 other states.

Once selected, the proposal for joint activities receives financial support. COST Actions also provide a platform for knowledge exchange and the creation of lasting collaborative networks among participants.

A complicated task

Under this funding programme, a single annual call for proposals is published. The next closing date is 25 October. In the evaluation, which is conducted anonymously, scientific excellence and social impact are the most important criteria.

When preparing a proposal, the first tip is to plan the submission well in advance. Ideally at least two to three months before the deadline. For years, COST Actions have been closing in October, so this aspect is easier to deal with than in other calls.

On the other hand, contacting organisations from quite different countries is always a challenging task, both because of cultural differences and because of the time they also need to analyse a project idea and make their contributions. In addition, the organisations we contact are not always responsive. To avoid these problems, it is always good to have a trusted partner who can provide support and who also has good contacts in other universities and research centres.

It is also necessary to structure a project idea as clearly as possible, always thinking about the final impact, as required by the European Commission. In this way, with a strong consortium, ambitious but at the same time realistic objectives and an idea with a significant impact on society, we will have a good foundation to build a successful proposal.

At Zabala Innovation we have experience in providing strategic advice on R&D&I projects, financial support, project management, and tailor-made solutions to maximise the impact and success of our clients’ collaborative initiatives. From conceptualisation to implementation, we specialise in turning ideas into tangible solutions that benefit both society and the global advancement of research and development. We are also able to analyse opportunities for participation in projects already underway and advise our clients at all stages of their implementation.

Expert person

Francesc Fabrega
Francesc Fabrega

Bilbao Office