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‘Robust’ research track record wins NZ a place in flagship EU programme

21 December 2022 | news

 A researcher at work in their laboratory

New Zealand’s eight universities welcome the conclusion of negotiations between the Government and the European Commission to give New Zealand researchers access to Horizon Europe, the European Union’s flagship programme for research and innovation.

To come into force, the agreement making New Zealand an associate member of Horizon Europe’s Pillar II needs the approval of Cabinet and the European Union and its member states.

The biggest collaborative part of Horizon Europe, Pillar II is focused primarily on shared global challenges, including climate change, energy and health.

Associate membership to Horizon Europe is the closest form of international cooperation in science and technology between the European Union and a non-European Union country.

If the agreement is signed, it will give New Zealand researchers access to Pillar II programmes, infrastructure and funding on equal terms with researchers from European Union member states.

They will also be able to lead research programmes and consortia and retain the intellectual property they bring to, and create within, their collaborative projects.

“This is a milestone agreement of huge importance,” says Chris Whelan, Chief Executive of Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara.

“It shows the esteem in which our researchers are held internationally and is an opportunity for them to build on the many collaborations they already have with European counterparts.

“New Zealand’s universities are home to nearly 60% of the country’s researchers and they have a massive contribution to make to tackling the challenges Horizon Europe’s Pillar II is focused on. Becoming more integrated into the European research and innovation system to conduct this research will benefit New Zealanders and Europeans alike, as well as others around the world.”

Mr Whelan thanked the European Commission for providing the opportunity and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for its work in bringing negotiations to fruition.

The Ministry has said researchers and organisations should start to form consortia and prepare projects to bid into Pillar II’s January–March 2023 application window.

Mr Whelan’s comments echo those of Mariya Gabriel, the European Union’s Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

Announcing the conclusion of negotiations, she said: “With Horizon Europe, we have redesigned our approach towards international cooperation in research and innovation, strengthening even more our ties with countries outside the geographical proximity of the EU that have a robust scientific and research track record.

“With a solid scientific base and more than half of New Zealand’s researchers having an active collaboration with a European partner, the country has been a trusted EU partner for many years now.”

She said a future association to Horizon Europe would deepen relations, foster innovation and further enable European researchers to benefit from “the latest knowledge and some of the best talent worldwide”.

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