EUrelations (EUREL) is involved in Horizon2020 projects supporting the cooperation between Europeans and Chinese stakeholders in science and innovation since 2011. As a Swiss based private research and innovation management company EUREL acts as a provider of ideas, neutral integrator and executor of substantial constructive work. This together with very competent partners and in the frame of interests of EU member states and those of other lobby groups. The aim and the commitment is a 100% targeted to unite Europeans in their work with China, to pursue common interests and to mobilise funding for S&I cooperations. To this end, a so-called "soft landing network" has been established in recent years to support researchers and companies in their Europe-China cooperation. There are many ongoing activities, including the Funding Forum, the exchange of knowledge through webinars and the involvement of Member States, especially through the Science Attachées. The Corona crisis has naturally influenced our work in the service of cooperation. But we cannot say handicapped. So more meetings were held mainly online and also much more frequently. It no longer took a lot of persuasion when we invited stakeholders to cooperate in online meetings. The number of participants in our cooperation exchange increased, our LinkedIn group grew, and the diversity of the participants' backgrounds expanded. A new Advisory Board has been set up to further consolidate our work all around EU-China cooperation, which is much more open than before and takes serious account of the needs and views of the Member States. We also hear at regular intervals how the mood in the individual European regions and in China is in the Corona period:
For example, an Italian representative believes that the time axis of project implementation would have been spared. Meanwhile, those responsible for the projects in the EU Commission are still sticking rigidly to their plans, which tends to hinder and demotivate European actors. Lockdowns would not be synchronised and synchronism must be respected. National interests were again on the rise and would not be conducive to European unity vis-à-vis China.
The Spanish official stressed the extent to which small innovation agencies in Spain promoted EU-China project design (but also others) and that they would contribute much to cooperation. He would therefore like universities, start-ups and SME industry to be able to find them more easily in the future and access should be simplified. We hear from Chinese representatives that China is mobilising more and more support funds for cooperation. (Great to hear!) Most of the money is allocated thematically, which is why it is also important that we Europeans should emerge with theme-based clusters and events. Not too broad, like smart cities, but for example smart health or smart energy, etc. The ENRICH Funding Forum, which we organise at regular intervals, should provide information on the conditions under which science, start-ups and industry receive these cooperation funds. We hear from Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Baltic States that they want to get more involved in the pan-European networking of research & innovation with China and that more resources, especially new staff, need to be well informed about what initiatives and opportunities exist. ENRICH there could contribute in many respect to the permanent education of government staff regarding European-China cooperations.
Meanwhile, the French delegates are not easy to get on board. This is very regrettable, especially as they are warmly invited as are all of us. We are all learning, including the Swiss, that we are only harming ourselves if our own interests are put before the general interest regarding China.
UK representatives are always numerous and always provide very helpful input. It is significant that those forces from England who work with us come from all regions of the world except England itself :-).
It can be said that the globalisation of travelling, exchanging goods and services is taking a step backwards, but that new dimensions of added value and a greater weight of the regions around ENRICH are emerging. We are working on it!
Information about our work EU-China: http://china.enrichcentres.eu