L'Eco du Mercredi - Horizon 2020 Seminar

Eco du Mercredi

Ouverture dans la matinée du 7 février 2017 au Labourdonnais Hotel (Caudan) d’un atelier de travail visant a faciliter le financement des programmes de recherche et d’innovation.

L'Eco du Mercredi - Horizon 2020 Seminar
L’Eco du Mercredi – Horizon 2020 Seminar

Cette initiative commune du ministere des TIC et de l’Union Europeenne vise a inciter les Mauriciens a monter des dossiers solides en vue de percevoir l’aide financiere qui leur permettra de mener a bien leurs projets.

Horizon 2020 est le plus grand programme de recherche et d’innovation jamais realisé par l’UE. Outre l’interet que lui portent les investisseurs des secteurs public et privé, ce programme beneficie d’un financement de 77 milliards d’euros sur une periode de 7 ans (2014-2020). Il se concentre sur trois domaines cles: l’excellence scientifique, la primauté industrielle et les defis societaux.

Good morning,
It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning to address you on the occasion of the opening of the Training Session. At the very outset, I wish to thank the European Union Delegation and the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission for organizing this Training Session which aims to present participants with information on, as well as how to tap in, exciting funding opportunities under Horizon 2020 and Erasmus + Programmes.

I am sure you have all tremendously benefitted yesterday from the insightful and inspiring keynote address of the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Gurib-Fakim at the opening of the seminar.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and has a dedicated budget of around 77 billion euros over 7 years which, I am given to understand, is the biggest EU Research and Innovation Programme of its kind ever and which aims at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

Erasmus + is the European Union’s Programme to support projects, partnerships, events and mobility in the areas of education, training, youth and sports. I am glad that as a member state of the Africa Carribean Pacific group of states, Mauritius is eligible to access funding opportunities under these programmes.

We are indeed privileged and grateful to the European Commission for this laudable initiative. I have no doubt that the participants of this workshop, including some of our finest researchers and academics from our local Tertiary Education Institutions and Research Agencies as well as representatives of the private sector and Government, will make the most of the information and material which will be provided in view of applying for these funds.

In fact, the slogan of Horizon 2020: Excellent Science, Competitive Industries, Better Society says it all. Indeed, these words go a long way towards emphasizing and justifying one of the priorities of our new Prime Minister, Right Honorable Pravind Jugnauth, when he laid emphasis on the potential of digital economy.
The significance of science and the need to constantly embrace and harness research and innovation in order to achieve higher and higher levels of development in all fields of human endeavours.

It is anticipated, and I have no doubt about it, that Horizon 2020 initiative promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market, while in the process tackling societal challenges.

Here in Mauritius, we can certainly learn and take inspiration from such initiatives. My Ministry and our community of researchers, decision-makers and the private sector are generally keen to take part in such endeavours.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 2010, the National Computer Board is the official partner of IST-Africa which is supported by the European Commission and the African Union Commission.
One of the main objectives of IST-Africa is to facilitate and support the Africa – EU Strategic Partnership in ICT and innovation aspects. IIMC (Ireland) in collaboration with the NCB has organized training workshops to promote EU research and Innovation Programme that may facilitate our Research institutions in partnering with other African and European institutions in developing research proposals and projects that can be funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Research Programme.

In December 2016, the National Computer Board organized a training workshop which comprehensively covered the Horizon 2020 ICT Programme and capacity building. This training workshop mainly focused on the ICT39-2017 call for proposals and imparted participants with knowledge as to how to co-design a proposal.

The workshop was well attended with over 50 participants from Research Institutions, Universities and representatives from ministries… and following that workshop, the NCB through IST-Africa is assisting several institutions in submitting research proposals for the ICT39-2017 Call. Three institutions are in the process of submitting proposals… namely, the Open University in collaboration with Imperial College UK on ICT research on Health, MSIRI on ICT Research in Agriculture and Smart Health Ltd on Mobile Health applications with remote care service.

I am confident that today’s session will also generate a lot of interest and enthusiasm to come up with further concrete research proposals in other disciplinary areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to stress that Government fully acknowledges that investing in Research and Innovation are investments in our future.

It is through innovation that we will develop our competitive advantage and differentiate our markets and products while enhancing job creation and wealth generation. This is one of the reasons why Government earmarked some 150 million rupees for the promotion of innovation in financial year 2016-2017.

Likewise, the Mauritius Research Council, which operates under the aegis of my Ministry and which has the mandate to promote and fund science, technology and innovation, has seen its research budget increase from Rs 33 million to Rs 87 million. I am informed that this year, after a call for research proposals, the MRC has received no less than 130 proposals for research projects in strategic sectors. This is a record breaking figure which augurs well for innovation in as much as Mauritius aspires to move from an upper middle income economy to a high income economy.

Innovation requires effective implementation, and this cannot be achieved in a sustainable manner at country level unless a structured framework is put in place that allows the ‘doers of innovation’ to operate and grow. To that end, my Ministry with the assistance of the MRC and in collaboration with other stakeholders is coming up with several initiatives such as the National Innovation Framework and the National Innovation Challenge amongst others.

The National Innovation Framework is designed to focus our strategy for innovation through an understanding of the priority areas for Mauritius and where our scientific, technological and social entrepreneurs can collaborate and maximize their collective impact.

With the assistance of the MRC, my Ministry has also launched The National Innovation Challenge which aims at uncovering and fostering local innovations by Mauritians working in a variety of fields ranging from Academia, Start-ups and Micro Companies, SMEs, communities to local schools and individuals.

This unprecedented challenge will seek to tap into those hundreds of indigenous innovative ideas which are currently dormant and only awaiting a wake-up call. The National Innovation Challenge will reward the best idea with a cash prize of Rs 500,000. Many other deserving ideas will be retained for funding or diverted to business incubators.

Dear guests…

Before concluding, I look forward to all of you joining the efforts of my Ministry and Government in creating the necessary dynamism for a new and sustainable innovation culture, departing from conducting business as usual. We need to move in the direction of ‘making innovation happen’, by channeling discussion and debate at national level on cutting edge science.

On this note, I am now pleased to declare this workshop open and look forward to fruitful discussions and sharing of experiences.

Thank you for your attention

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