COST will officially launch its reciprocal agreement with South Africa at a conference at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria on Tuesday 8 September 2009. The event is hosted by ESASTAP - the European South African Science and Technology Advancement Programme and runs in parallel to the second South African - European Union Summit.
South Africa is the latest country to have signed a reciprocal agreement with the COST Office to increase international cooperation between scientists.
Dr. Martin Grabert, Director of the COST Office has already voiced his delight with the agreement: "Both COST and South Africa's DST can give collaboration between Europe and South Africa an extra boost, by encouraging significant scientific work on a global scale and bringing new perspectives to nationally coordinated research."
COST is Europe's oldest science and technology networking programme, and under the Reciprocal Agreement, which came into force on 1 July 2009, COST will fund European researchers to undertake short-term scientific missions to South Africa, whilst ESASTAP will avail funding to South African researchers undertaking such missions to Europe.
For Daan du Toit, the Minister Counsellor (Science and Technology) for the South African Mission to the European Union, this is a wonderful opportunity offered by COST: "Our agreement will help South African researchers to integrate international networks, where they can contribute and share expertise, addressing many shared global challenges."
These cooperation efforts are vital to the economic competitiveness of European companies. Indeed, the European Commission is convinced that excellence in research stems from competition between researchers and from getting the best to compete and cooperate with each other.
In the meantime, COST's reciprocal agreements (also with New Zealand and Australia) are providing a sound and fruitful basis for cooperation. Many researchers from these countries have already participated in several COST Actions. The biggest economy of the African continent will now have more opportunities to collaborate with COST's member states.