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South Africa council official calls for freer Horizon leadership rules

Image: Andrew Silver for Research Professional News

Inorms 2023: EU asked to allow funded consortia to choose any partner as a leader

The EU should allow research and innovation consortia it funds to choose any partner as project leader, an official at a research council in South Africa has urged.

In general, EU-funded projects can only be led by the bloc’s member states or countries associated to its R&I programmes.

On the African continent, only Tunisia has an association agreement, although negotiations with Morocco are ongoing.

Petronella Chaminuka (pictured second from left), an economist at the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, said there is a “level of inequality” in accessing benefits from African R&I partnerships with the EU.

She made her remarks during a 1 June session of a congress of the International Network of Research Management Societies in Durban, South Africa.

A study of an initiative to boost joint EU and African Union R&I under the bloc’s 2014-20 programme, called the EU-AU Research and Innovation Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture, found that European coordinators led two-thirds of 105 initiative projects, and African partners only a third.

“The way that the funding instruments themselves were structured was such that there was no room for an African partner to be a lead partner,” Chaminuka said, citing the study.

“It is not fully up to the consortium to determine who they want to be the lead coordinator,” she told Research Professional News, adding that she would like changes to allow more leadership from researchers in Africa.

“I believe the fact that we’ve kind of amplified this inequity is hopefully going to, in the near future, help them also to change,” she said.

Research Professional News is media partner for the Inorms 2023 conference in Durban. Read all of the coverage here.