Four main critical weaknesses and structural problems have been identified as contributing to the problems of low growth, insufficient innovation, and other environmental and social challenges currently faced by Europe. These problems include:
The EU, whilst representing only 7% of the world’s population, is responsible for 24% of world expenditure on research, 32% of high impact publications and 32% of patent applications, making it a world leader in research and innovation. However, over the past few decades, new key players have emerged within the international landscape shifting the aforementioned dominant position held by the EU towards emerging economies such as China, Brazil, India and South Africa.
This increasingly multi-polar international landscape has resulted in higher competition for attracting foreign R&D and talent. The issue is further exacerbated by the current economic crisis within the European region, which has resulted in a slow-down of public spending on research and innovation within the region. It has also compromised the region’s attractiveness in terms of drawing global STI investments and talent. The shifting international landscape indicates an increased likelihood that the ‘world in 2025 will be less ‘western’ with some believing that we are already moving into the Asian Century’.
Within this context, there is an increased need for Europe to strengthen internationalization through strategic policy action. This is important not just in order to develop stronger linkages with emerging research and innovation hubs in Asia, Latin America and Africa, but also to benefit from new opportunities presented through international cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation in a proactive manner.
Progress has been made in this regard through programmes such as, FP7 and Horizon 2020. An interim evaluation of FP7 carried out in 2010 revealed that the programme covered a wide range of topics, involving researchers who were geographically spread leading to the conclusion that there is a very high likelihood of making positive impacts. However, it was further noted that there is a need for further enhancing international cooperation activities focused on ‘engaging with partners outside of Europe on equal terms and in programmes and activities of high mutual interest' . The need for linkages with Asian countries was particularly highlighted given the region's rapidly growing research and innovation capacities and the urgency to address global challenges. This was in light of the evidence indicating low levels of participation from 'Third Countries' indicating no major progress has been made in this regard compared to FP6.
In particular, there are poor levels of focus on the South Asian region. South Asia, which is home to more than 40% of the world’s absolute poor, will contribute nearly 40% of the growth in the world’s working-age population over the next several decades (Nayar et al., 2012). The region experiences critical societal challenges covering all six key themes of Horizon 2020 including:
The overall objective of CASCADE is to prepare ground for a future INCONET programme that targets South Asian Countries and promotes bi-regional coordination of Science &Technology (S&T) cooperation, including priority setting and definition of S&T cooperation policies.
The specific objectives of CASCADE – as a supporting action – are to:
CASCADE targets and has the participation of all South Asian countries specified in the call: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The objectives are linked to an interacting set of work packages and measurable / verifiable outputs, as detailed in the table below. In addition to the 3 research and development work packages, there are 2 further work packages dealing with project management (WP1) and dissemination and exploitation (WP5).
|Objectives||Linked work packages||Verifiable results and indicators|
|Compile a regional position paper that identifies global challenges and research priorities; map and develop an inventory of national and regional stakeholders related to global challenges||
WP2 – Identify global challenges relevant to Southern Asia
Seven national position papers: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
A regional (South Asia) position paper
|Map and develop an inventory of national and regional stakeholders related to global challenges||
WP3 – Identify and map stakeholders in Southern Asia
National stakeholder maps for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
Inventory of national and regional stakeholders linked to societal challenges
|Raise awareness on research & innovation priorities for fostering cooperation and towards building mutual understanding on how to address common global societal challenges||
WP4 – Raise awareness of Horizon 2020 and related schemes
Training events and materials on Horizon 2020 and societal challenges
|Manage CASCADE partners, coordinate the delivery of project outputs, ensure achievement of anticipated outcomes, and develop and manage project infrastructure||WP1 – Project management||
Project kick-off meeting
Terms of reference & consortium agreement
Partner and participant evaluation surveys
Project steering committee meetings
Exploitation and valorisation plan
Independent evaluation reports
Project closure report
|Prepare ground for a future INCONET programme that targets South Asian Countries and promotes bi-regional coordination of S&T cooperation, including priority setting and definition of S&T cooperation policies||WP5 – Dissemination and exploitation||
Standard awareness raising presentations / template