30 November 2016 | General
Malta hosts the 199th Committee of Senior Officials meeting
Malta is hosting the 199th COST Committee of Senior Officials meeting at the new interactive Science Centre (Esplora) between 30 November and 1 December 2016.
The delegates were welcomed by Dr Angeles Rodriguez Peña, President of the COST Association. Dr Rodriguez Peña underlined the importance of this meeting, laying the foundations for the future of the programme and the COST Association. She said that after having defined a vision, it was key to elaborate on a common strategy taking COST beyond Horizon 2020. “We need to ensure the sustainability of COST and increase our efforts to demonstrate the added value of bottom-up and open networks. 2017 is a hinge moment for EU research funding, and we need to clearly position ourselves towards all other players, programmes and instruments.”
Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Executive Chairman at Malta's Council for Science and Technology noted that the wide range of networking activities COST offers, such as meetings, workshops, short term scientific missions, publications, and training schools, made it even more amenable to researchers based in Malta. Since 2012, Malta has participated in a constantly growing number of running COST Actions. In 2015, participants from Malta were involved in the Management Committee - or core group - of 157 COST Actions, meaning almost half of the running total. To date, there are now over 250 different researchers participating in nearly 150 different COST Actions.
Researchers based in Malta are participating in COST Actions ranging from research in basic science such as drug resistance in cancer stem cells, to more applied science such as soil erosion, 3D video coding, transport accessibility, tracking water vapour in the atmosphere with GPS satellites, for climate change; setting up databases so public-policy researchers can compare local-government reforms. SMEs and public entities in Malta are participating in COST actions on digital printing, next generation photovoltaics, wind energy, food industry, water quality, construction and sustainable architecture.
COST also stimulates the participation of early career investigators in all its networking activities. In 2015, almost two thirds of participants from Malta were early career investigators. He said that "COST Actions will act as a stepping stone towards other European funding, the establishment of contacts and participation in projects and initiatives that can empower the single and competitive market, improve our way of life and place Malta on the map when it comes to cutting edge research activities."
The Hon Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Research Innovation and Sports was also present for the meeting. He noted that tackling the European innovation divide is one of the areas that Malta intends to shine a spotlight on during its Presidency in 2017. Indeed the Presidency priority looks at the implementation of an instrument that can address research and innovation cooperation through a regional initiative – PRIMA or Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area. This programme will be focused on the development and application of innovative solutions for food systems and water resources in the Mediterranean basin, bringing together all regional actors in this process through consultation and joint activities. "We believe that PRIMA will be showcasing how ‘openness’ can build competitiveness. Malta acknowledges that a number of activities under the COST umbrella may be complementary to and help facilitate the PRIMA process."