FAPESP and the Sustainable Development Goals

Research funding agencies discuss ways of fostering multilateral collaboration in the Americas

Research funding agencies discuss ways of fostering multilateral collaboration in the Americas

Online workshops involving 11 member organizations of the Global Research Council discussed mechanisms and tools to stimulate research partnerships across the continent (image: screenshot taken during the webinars)

Published on 01/02/2023

By Maria Fernanda Ziegler  |  Agência FAPESP – Chile’s National Research and Development Agency (ANID) has issued a call for proposals on sustainable economics, energy decarbonization and urban development. The mechanism is multilateral and involves collaboration with agencies in more than ten countries around the world. 

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awards research grants ranging from CAD 20,000 (about USD 14,700) to CAD 1 million (USD 737,000) per year for Canadian researchers to collaborate with colleagues in other countries. The knowledge areas supported include natural sciences, engineering and technology, and agricultural sciences, among others. 

In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) participates in a multilateral mechanism called the Trans-Atlantic Platform for Social Sciences and Humanities (T-AP), which in 2021 issued a call for joint research proposals by groups on both sides of the Atlantic to foster international collaboration in these fields. FAPESP administered the call, and Canadian and Mexican agencies also participated.  

These examples of multilateral research funding mechanisms were discussed at two workshops entitled “Science, Technology and Innovation: Funding Mechanisms for the Strengthening of International Collaboration in the Americas” and held in November 2022 by a group of funders in the Americas including FAPESP. 

The event was supported by the Global Research Council (GRC), a virtual organization comprising the heads of more than 60 science and engineering funding agencies in countries around the world. 

At the workshops, 11 funding agencies from ten countries in the Americas met online for two days to exchange experiences in the use of tools and mechanisms to foster scientific collaboration. Each agency presented five programs or calls involving partnerships, bilateral cooperation or multilateral collaboration to fund research in science, technology and innovation (ST&I). 

“The main challenges faced by our economies and societies are global. They are climate change, biodiversity loss, urbanization, and forced migration. They invite us to share solutions, best practices and data. To find joint solutions, we need to build trustworthy relationships as a basis for collaboration between different knowledge areas and across borders,” NSERC President Alejandro Adem said in his opening remarks to the November 11 workshop. 

The initiative was a follow-up of three scientific symposia held in 2021 and 2022 by Chile’s ANID, Paraguay’s National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT), Argentina’s National Scientific and Technological Research Council (CONICET) and FAPESP, where it was decided to build stronger partnerships among funding agencies in the Americas.  

Another related event was the GRC’s Americas Regional Meeting in 2021, which discussed climate change, mechanisms for recognizing and rewarding research, and research ethics and integrity, as well as the possibility of collaboration among funding agencies in the Americas. 

“Opportunities like these workshops are vital to global research initiatives,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “Cross-border collaboration and exchanges of ideas and best practices have always been the basis for scientific progress, but this is a time when new talent, new ideas and revolutionary innovations are needed more than ever to tackle the great global challenges. We know the best way to tackle them is by means of collaboration and partnership, the only way to speed up discovery in all fields of science and unlock countries’ innovative capabilities.” 

The global economic crisis triggered by the pandemic makes collaboration all the more necessary. “We have to work together. This is the time to increase investment in research, technology and education in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], with emphasis on cross-cutting collaboration,” Panchanathan said. 

Luiz Eugênio Mello, FAPESP’s Scientific Director, highlighted the benefits of collaboration among funding agencies. “Just as all societies are facing similar challenges, both local and global, so the funding agencies represented here support a large number of highly qualified researchers and institutions and have strong management capabilities. All the elements required for fruitful collaboration are present. However, we must build the capacity to organize ourselves to the point where we create stronger structures for the development of multilateral collaborations,” he said. 

Multilateralism should be a dimension of all new programs and calls for proposals, he added. The agencies represented at the workshops already interact with regional partners and other stakeholders around the world. “But we need an extra joint effort to extend this to a larger number of agencies,” he said.  


“I see these workshops as seeds that will grow into actions that enable us to develop a permanent capacity for consultation, exchanges of good practices, and above all closer interaction and collaboration on various research topics and funding initiatives,” Mello said during the second workshop, held on November 25. 

The GRC should also be a forum to support initiatives that help create frameworks for cross-border collaboration, he added.  

The group’s next step will be to include the 55 mechanisms presented during the workshops in a final document, which will be posted to the GRC’s website. 

“In recent years, we’ve built a vision in which the GRC is a forum with significant potential to create multilateral research and innovation funding mechanisms. Having 11 agencies exchange information on funding instruments with the aim of intensifying collaboration and partnership is a unique experience that shows our potential to foster joint activities,” said Euclides de Mesquita Neto, a member of FAPESP’s Adjunct Panel for Special Programs and Research Collaboration and Executive Secretary of the GRC since September (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/39790).  

The other participants in the workshops were representatives of FAPESP, ANID, CONACYT, CONICET, NSERC, NSF, Uruguay’s National Research and Innovation Agency (ANII), Panamá’s National Science, Technology and Innovation Secretariat (SENACYT), Peru’s National Science, Technology and Technological Innovation Council (CONCYTEC), Mexico’s National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT), and Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).


Source: https://agencia.fapesp.br/40387