Global View

THE ROLE OF SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Andrei Alexandru Babadac

International scientific cooperation is a fundamental element in achieving development objectives which are too far fetched for the reach of a single country. As a member of the European Union, Romania is actively engaged in promoting research, particularly in the development of the ELI-NP project, at similar levels with Czechia and Hungary.

Introduction

Research is a central element for the development of a modern society. As a member of the European Union, Romania assumed a central spot in the development of the infrastructure in physics and in high-end technologies. ELI-NP is the most ambitious effort of Romanian research with applicability in nuclear physics, astrophysics and in the management of nuclear materials and life sciences.

Academic and science diplomacy is a rather new concept within public diplomacy, promoting concepts such as cooperation and openness beyond national borders. The current geopolitical concept enabled the states to realize that the most efficient method to address global challenges is to put together a vast array of expertise and experience.

 The relationship between scientific research cooperation and diplomacy is rather complex but essentially their purpose is not fundamentally different. Both have as purpose to facilitate the communication between two cultures, each with its own particularities and restrains. At first hand, academic diplomacy seems to have an exclusively positive role, projecting a win-win situation for every partner involved. All parties involved have an apparent gain, the state is served by the benefits of academic diplomacy furthers his agenda on the global stage, promotes its image within international fora, increases its profile within international organizations, and nonetheless attracts foreign talents. On the other hand, the researchers extend their international network, further the spread of their research and identify new sources for financing their research.

Research in Romania

In Romania research is done through the higher education system as well as within the national research institutes and it follows the implementation of the Strategy and National Framework for Research and Development 2014-2020. The Romanian R&D system aims to further the development of science and technology, being designed to increase the competitiveness of Romania’s economy, to further the social quality and to advance knowledge at large.[1]

The Romanian research, development and innovation system has 263 members from the public sector and around 600 private enterprises. Among the public organisations, 56 are public universities,  46 are national research and development institutes (out of which 43 are under the coordination of the Ministry for Research and Innovation) and 65 are under the umbrella of the Romanian Academy.  The National network for research and innovation and technology transfer (ReNITT) comprises 50 organisations: centers for technology transfer, technological information centers, technology and business incubators and 4 science and technology parks.[2]

            The ELI-NP System

ELI-NP  Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics facility represents the nuclear physics pillar of the pan-European ELI project which is implemented in Romania, Hungary and Czechia. ELI was part of the European Strategic Forum of Research Infrastructures since 2006 (made of 36 European mega-research projects). Given its unique characteristics, this multidisciplinary infrastructure will present new opportunities for the study of some of the most fundamental processes occurring in the interaction between light and matter, actively promoting its applications for the benefit of the society.[3]

The ELI-NP project was chosen by Europe’s most prestigious scientific committee in the field of nuclear physics  – the NuPECC to be a component of their long term plan for nuclear physics in Europe –  as their new laboratory for a wide array of scientific experiments. The research of the ELI-NP project can be applied in a wide array of scientific fields, from theoretical physics to the applied: in medicine, pharmacy, nuclear security, for building particle accelerators in other fields, for the development of other important technologies. It will create the premises to facilitate the transfer of technology and for economic development through investments in the development of scientific, technological and industrial parks.[4]

            International cooperation in the field of science and research

The international cooperation in the field of sciences has a long tradition of notable results, even as back as the high times of the Cold War. Putting knowledge together by several states creates not only economic added value but also shares the costs of progress, resulting in higher benefits for everyone involved in the process. The increased international cooperation is even more valuable when the goal is to further common causes such as fighting epidemics, curing diseases or in our case, the development of nuclear physics.

Scientific cooperation is beneficial for everyone involved not only through the absorption of technology but also for the economic and diplomatic exchanges and through the strengthening of the bonds among the partners, despite possible differences on other topics.

Today, the direct and indirect benefits of the international cooperation for the development of science and technology are more visible than ever. Global challenges are too great, complex and interconnected to be tackled solely through the individual efforts of one state or another.

Academic diplomacy is an essential element in solving the major societal problems which are going beyond one’s own borders, such as pandemics, climate change, or even information security. Initiatives such as Europe 2020 are the best portrait for the will of the states to advance through cooperation between science and politics, thus parting the risks and enriching the knowledge.

[1] Research in Romania. EURAXESS. https://www.euraxess.gov.ro/ro/romania/informatii-si-asistenta/cercetare-romania accessed at  30.06.2018.

[2] National Research System. Ministry for Research and Innovation. http://www.research.gov.ro/ro/articol/4481/sistemul-national-de-cercetare accssed at 29.06.2018

[3] ELI-NP | Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics, Ministry of Research and Innovation, http://www.research.gov.ro/ro/articol/4517/eli-np-extreme-light-infrastructure-nuclear-physics,  accessed at 30.06.2018.

[4] ELI-NP | Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics, Ministry of Innovation and Research, http://www.research.gov.ro/ro/articol/4517/eli-np-extreme-light-infrastructure-nuclear-physics,  accessed at 30.06.2018.

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