On 4 May 2021, Paulo Ferrão, President of the COST Association, Manuel Heitor, -the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education- and Mariya Gabriel -the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth-, welcomed the online Ministerial Conference held under the auspices of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Ministers from the COST Members confirmed their political commitment to the COST programme. Overwhelming support was expressed to reinforce the role of COST in a renewed and stronger European Research Area by promoting its bottom-up, open, inclusive, and global networks.
The opening session focussed on how essential and unique COST is, and how it has been an essential instrument supporting research collaboration for five decades.
European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “COST is such a good example with its 50 years persistence in fostering science and technology cooperation in Europe. We need to look ahead together. COST has features in common with Horizon Europe; both seek to engage researchers to create and expand collaboration networks and foster interdisciplinary science based on principles of openness. COST is definitely key and with great potential to strengthen efficient relationships with European programmes. It is therefore crucial that we encourage you as representatives of Member States to align strategies, pool resources and structure the research and innovation ecosystems from which COST is invaluable in the backdrop of the research landscape.”
Minister Manuel Heitor stated: “We must be very proud of the founding fathers of COST, building an intergovernmental organisation, overcoming the difficulties met in the past leading to today’s success. I am very proud to welcome the 50 years anniversary of COST during our Portuguese Presidency. COST is about people, launching seeds for networks of opportunities and attracting generations of researchers.”
Screenshot of the online COST Ministerial Conference 04/05/21
Over the past 50 years, COST has had a long-lasting impact on the careers of thousands of researchers and innovators. Luciano Rezzolla, Professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, and one of the laureates of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2019) gave an inspirational speech. He was part of the group of scientists which captured the first-ever image of a black hole by the Event Horizon Telescope. During his intervention, Prof. Rezzolla emphasised the relevance and importance of scientific networking as a key element leading to this success thanks to his participation in several COST Actions. As bottom-up structures, COST Actions are a unique European model which need to be preserved, providing fertile ground for research collaboration.
During the Ministerial Conference, young researchers shared their stories focussing on how COST empowered them in their career advancement and helped enrich their research.
High-level representatives of the COST Members reconfirmed their commitment to support and acknowledge COST, as a significant R&I instrument in the European Research Area.
The President of the COST Association, Paulo Ferrão stated: “This year, COST is celebrating its 50th birthday. A remarkable milestone for a truly unique organisation, which has connected more than half a million researchers since 1971. Through its networking instruments, COST contributes highly to achieving the objectives of the ERA, as it is characterised by a free circulation of research, knowledge, and technology – creating a true internal market for researchers and innovators. With a renewed ambition and an increased role in the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, COST is more than ready for the future.”
50 years ago, as an intergovernmental initiative COST was the only mechanism for researchers to collaborate and unique for its time. Today, COST remains a key player successfully connecting researchers and innovators in Europe and beyond.
To keep track of these achievements and shared testimonies, COST is launching a dedicated “COST 50 years” website to gather an extensive overview of COST in the last half-century.
It is therefore obvious to highlight the 50 years of science without borders campaign that kicked-off during this Ministerial Conference.
50 Years of Research Networks:
Read the publication here
Visit the website here
Press release of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union on the COST Ministerial Conference