International collaboration advances scientific research - COST and NSF’s AccelNet sign MoU


European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for facilitating international networking and research coordination opportunities for scientists supported by the two funding schemes.

On 18 June 2024, the MoU was signed by Dr Kendra Sharp, Office Head of the Office of International Science and Engineering, representing NSF, and Prof. Salvatore Grimaldi, President of the COST Association to foster and strengthen collaboration between COST and NSF’s AccelNet Program.

The MoU formalises the partnership’s commitment to creating new opportunities for researchers and innovators and marks a step forward in identifying collaborative areas based on shared interests.

In addition, this MoU creates opportunities by connecting researchers with complementary strengths and shared interests, enabling them to coordinate research on a scale larger than individual research networks or labs.

New synergies

At a time when scientific progress is more crucial than ever, international collaboration has become an essential driver in research. Cross-continent researchers and scientists are driving the frontiers of knowledge by combining their expertise and resources. This global partnership is essential for scientific advancement, as no single country possesses all the necessary facilities and expertise. By creating synergies researchers are not only conducting cutting-edge research but also ensuring that the resulting knowledge benefits the global scientific community.

COST funds the creation of research networks, called COST Actions, which provide an open platform for international collaboration among scientists across Europe and beyond. These networks drive research advancements and innovation, responding directly to the needs of researchers and innovators. The open and inclusive characteristic of COST Actions establishes and maintains international, long-term collaboration to achieve breakthrough scientific results.

“Knowledge is one of the most precious resources of today. Its value is increased by sharing it, allowing it to get further enriched. The COST – NSF AccelNet MoU signed today is a significant enabler for knowledge creation and overcoming knowledge fragmentation while promoting collaboration of actors and stakeholders across continents. We are proud of the already existing cooperation among the excellent researchers of our funding schemes. We are convinced that many more will follow soon for advancing research and bring breakthrough results.”

Prof. Salvatore Grimaldi, President of the COST Association

Meanwhile, the NSF’s AccelNet Program shares a similar mission. AccelNet supports strategic linkages between U.S. research networks and complementary networks abroad, leveraging research and educational resources to address major research challenges requiring extensive international coordination.

The program emphasises collaboration over competition, pooling expertise and resources to accelerate scientific progress. By supporting activities that promote strategic international links between research networks, AccelNet accelerates the research process and the resulting opportunities within the framework of international cooperation.

“I congratulate you on your continued commitment to advancing science and technology and to leveraging science for policy and science for diplomacy. International interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships are critical to addressing many of the most important challenges the world is facing today. NSF is a proud partner of EU COST Initiatives. Research networking and coordination can accelerate science, and NSF strives to support use-inspired research. Collaboration facilitated by this NSF-COST MoU will accelerate not just our science but also its impact.”

Dr Kendra Sharp, Office Head, NSF Office of International Science and Engineering

COST and AccelNet Program are pleased to support this new initiative to foster greater collaboration and awareness among researchers and innovators from both continents. Following the public announcement, both entities will engage in information exchanges to further develop synergies that can support the researchers engaged in the COST and the NSF AccelNet programme.

International cooperation is key

Thanks to increased awareness researchers and innovators will be better positioned to access further funding such as the Horizon Europe Framework Programme and the NSF funding schemes. Through these efforts, it will create a more interconnected and supportive research and innovation community, driving advancements and fostering a culture of collaboration.

This agreement marks a new step forward in developing international collaboration that is needed in the research community. It will last for the next three years to assess the progress made in the implementation and potentially develop further cooperation activities with the option to renew it further.

By signing the MoU, COST, and NSF are committed to making significant contributions to international scientific networking for the advancement of research and innovation.

This spirit of cooperation demonstrates the need to share results outputs and help scientists improve their research results.

Further information

COST and NSF’s AccelNET Program, have already initiated collaboration under the umbrella of the Science Summit at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) last autumn. The two funding schemes shared best practices and investigated emerging synergies between COST Actions and U.S.-based researchers for the first time. By sharing their experience and expertise, the networking opportunities enabled some projects to receive additional funding and expand their networks.