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United Europe: Widening R&I cooperation in times of war

A public Science|Business Network Conference (14:00 – 17:30 CET, followed by a networking reception), featuring the launch of the new Science|Business Widening initiative


Despite years of trying, and huge potential, eastern Europe still lags behind the west when it comes to research and innovation (R&I) performance. For example, just 5.7% of the EU’s previous framework programme, Horizon 2020, went to the region, causing significant political tensions. The European Commission sought to address this in part through Horizon Europe, with its “widening and strengthening” agenda – a €3.3 billion plan to broaden networks and cooperation platforms across the EU. In parallel, it set out a vision for a revitalised European Research Area, aiming to create a single market for R&I to help boost public and private investments and accelerate reforms in national systems and policies. The future seemed bright, despite the inevitable challenges of implementation that lay ahead.   

Then in February of this year, the world changed with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The repercussions have spread throughout the international scientific community – and especially so in those central and eastern European (CEE) countries nearest to the conflict. In the short term, the crisis has sharpened minds and attention on the importance of solidarity, while raising vital longer-term questions of capacity-building, resilience and security in the region. With the war appearing unlikely to end anytime soon, how should R&I institutions – both in CEE and elsewhere in the world – plan for the future? What are the implications for industry and investors? Are there some clear, basic principles for scientific sanctions that the research world can adopt – in this, and all future cases of geopolitical tension? On the other hand, what can science diplomacy achieve? Can the Ukrainian situation accelerate lasting change and ultimately deliver the wider, stronger R&I landscape that European policy makers have been dreaming of?   

As Europe’s leading media and networking organisation focused on R&I policy issues, Science|Business is uniquely positioned to convene a public debate on these topics with key figures in international R&I policy and practice. On September 7, we invite you to join us, and the members of our Network, for a series of high-level discussions on the future of scientific cooperation in times of conflict. Our conference will also see the launch of The Widening – a brand-new Science|Business media service which will shine a spotlight on latest R&I dynamics and developments in CEE countries, for the wider benefit of everyone looking to engage in the region. 

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