On 20th March 2019, the European Commission (EC), the European Research Council (ERC) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) co-organised a Horizon 2020 Info-Day at AAS campus in Nairobi, Kenya. The participants included scientists from a wide range of fields of research in Kenya, staff of AAS and high-level delegates from the ERC and EC including the presidents of AAS and ERC.

The president of the ERC presented insights on activities and governance of the council. He related this to enhancing research on the frontiers of knowledge and progressing towards a dynamic knowledge society. Since its creation in 2007, the ERC through EU research programme has funded over 8900 research projects led by scientists across Europe.

The sessions covered during the Info-day included:

  • funding opportunities for cooperation between Africa and Europe in science and innovation through Horizon 2020 and the ERC
  • opportunities within open and targeted upcoming calls of the new work programme 2018-2020, as well as benefits of participation for stakeholders from African countries
  • the application process for the funding opportunities, mandatory documents, networking platforms and how to find suitable partners for building a consortium
  • financial budgeting regulations for Horizon 2020, preparation and submission of a proposal, and
  • experiences sharing from Horizon 2020-supported scientists and the ERC grantees.

Dr Donald Njarui presented InnovAfrica project activities and the project’s key achievements since its inception in June 2017. He highlighted anticipated ecological, nutritional and social-economic impacts of the project. He also emphasised on mapping of institutions and agriculture policies related to the dissemination of agricultural innovations in InnovAfrica case countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania.

Dr Njarui gave examples on how the scientists involved in the project implementation have been raising awareness among policy makers at both local and national levels to influence policies. The added-value of the collaboration between African and European scientists and the challenges encountered right from grant application writing to project implementation were discussed.