2023, Event, Highlight, HUB event

January 30, 2023

From Rhetoric To Reality:

Embedding international strategy in the DNA of research organisations


“Science is global”, as the time-honoured phrase insists – but with a handful of exceptions, very few research and technology organisations have the scale, scope and resources to establish a truly international footprint. Moreover, as longstanding tensions with China and – more recently – the science sanctions levied against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine demonstrate, that foundational principle does not always hold true.  And even closer to home, the continued inability of the UK and Switzerland to associate to Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship R&I programme, highlights the reality that science and politics do not exist in mutually exclusive vacuums.

What seems clear is the planetary and societal challenges of our time – climate change, health, biodiversity loss, clean energy, digital transformation, and more – increasingly demand that research funding and performing organisations cooperate across borders. The nature and complexity of these issues point to a major increase in international efforts – across sectors and disciplines – to develop sustainable solutions to these “wicked problems”.

Nonetheless, this gives rise to a fundamental question: how do research bodies embed this international dimension in their long-term mission, strategy, planning and working culture? An argument can be made that in many leading scientific organisations and agencies, the approach to date has been more ad hoc than institutional – whether due to funding shortages, language barriers, respect for researchers’ basic autonomy to choose their partners and projects, domestic orientation of national funding programmes, lack of access to particular markets, or similar.

Given the prospect of global challenges worsening rapidly in the years ahead, both in Europe and beyond, the importance of defining a more systematic approach grows by the day.  On the positive side of things, the opportunity landscape may increase in 2023, if various major R&D countries – such as Japan, Canada, Australia and South Korea – conclude their own negotiations to participate more actively in Horizon Europe.  For at least two more years, the EU-US Trade and Technology Council will also continue to explore areas of mutual and strategic interest for transatlantic cooperation.

On the other hand, if the political tides turn again in the United States come 2024, then Europe may find itself more isolated in key scientific and technology races, and in (more) direct competition with America and China. And while the scale and complexity of global challenges remain immense, no single scientific organisation can possibly tackle – let alone solve – them all.  As such, a considered alignment of areas of excellence with capacity and institutional objectives, not to mention the various funding programmes and policy priorities set out by the European Commission, is inevitably at the heart of the way forward.   

Against this backdrop, on January 30 INESC – in partnership with Science|Business, the leading Brussels-based R&I media company – will bring together a select group of influential RTOs, RPOs and funding agencies to examine good practice in the field, and to debate ways in which the goals of international cooperation might be better integrated into internal processes, institutional design, and market positioning.

This meeting is by invitation only for participants external to INESC and Chatham House rules will be applied. 

INESC research and staff may participate freely by registering through this link until 27 January: https://forms.gle/yfwwoxxAaw2J18xu6 or simply click on the button “Participate in this event” at the bottom of the page.

14h to 17h30 (PT Time/GMT)

Roundtable: From rhetoric to reality

Embedding international strategy in the DNA of research organisations.

14:00     Welcome & Introduction

Inês Lynce, – Chair of INESC Brussels HUB, President of INESC ID

Simon Pickard – Network Director, Science Business (moderator)

14:05     SESSION I – The context: Balancing global partnership with national interests

Opening remarks from two senior policy makers on the importance of aligning an institutional approach to international cooperation with European and national (R&I) policy objectives – as well as a reflection on the wider tensions and complexities which need to be overcome (e.g. strategic autonomy, technology sovereignty, etc).

Martin Penny, Head of Unit for International Cooperation, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission

Francisco Santos, Vice-President, Portuguese National Research Council (FCT)

Arlindo Oliveira, President of INESC Holding

14:50     SESSION II – The challenge: Which factors should underpin an international strategy?

Examining the institutional considerations that different research funding and performing organisations need to address in defining the purpose, focus, scope and objectives of a strategy for international cooperation.

National research councilsFrancisco Javier Moreno Fuentes, VP International Affairs, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and Pierre Roy, Deputy Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

National innovation agenciesKarin Ryden, Head of Department for International Cooperation, Vinnova and Ewa Bloch, Head of European Affairs and Programmes, Innovate UK

Research and technology organisationsVladimiro Miranda, President, INESC P&D Brazil, Andreia Passos, Director of the Department of International Relations, INESC TEC,  Rafael Popper, Director of the Centre of Foresight and Internationalisation, Lukasiewicz, Poland

Policy-makersTim Flink, Scientific Advisor to the Committee of Education, Research and Technology Assessment of the Federal Parliament of Germany, Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General: International Cooperation and Resources at South African Department of Science and Innovation and Frederico Lyra, Science and Innovation Officer, British Embassy in Lisbon

Universities: Cláudia Cavadas, Vice-Rector, University of Coimbra, Giedre Saidekaite, Director of Dept. of International Relations, Kaunas University of Technology, Fátima Montemor, Vice-President, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lewis Beer, International Partnerships and Strategy, University of Warwick, Stéphanie Dion, International Strategy Advisor, Polytechnique Montréal

16:00                   Coffee break

16:15                   SESSION III – The solution: Learning from good practice and charting a way forward

Roundtable discussion of current approaches and lessons learned – both in terms of successes and failures – from different RPOs and RTOs, and not limited to Europe. Another strand of discussion (where relevant) should be the challenges that institutions from different regions across Europe, from South to Central and Eastern European organisations face when trying to internationalise their science and technology programmes and projects.

17:15                   Conclusions & Final Take-aways

Closing remarks by INESC and Science Business.

José Carlos Caldeira – Vice-Chair of INESC Brussels HUB, Board Member of INESC TEC

Simon Pickard – Network Director, Science Business (moderator)

17:30                   End of roundtable


The INESC Brussels HUB Winter Meeting takes place in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (IST-DEI). Check below the exact location in Google Maps as well as the facilities map of the IST Alameda Campus.

All meetings will be physically held in “7 – Pavilhão de Informática II

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