The European Union (EU), which is presently implementing Horizon 2020, its biggest funding programme for research globally, is keen to explore possibilities of collaboration with the research and academic community in Odisha.

A delegation of European Research and Innovation officials, led by Ms. Tania Friederichs, Head of Research and Innovation, EU Delegation to India, visited the SOA (Deemed to be University) to explore opportunities for international collaboration and exchange in different fields.

The delegates had wide-ranging discussion with the SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof. Amit Banerjee, the Dean (Research and Development), Prof. Pradipta Kumar Nanda and other academic and research heads.

Ms. Friedrichs said that Horizon 2020, an 80 billion Euros program being implemented over seven years since 2014, was primarily targeted at excellence in science, industrial leadership and societal challenges.

“The purpose of our visit is to learn more about SOA initiatives in academics, research, innovation and technology transfer and SOA’s expectations regarding possible cooperation with Europe, both at the EU level and with the countries represented in the delegation,” she said adding “we wish to inform you about various cooperation and funding opportunities for collaborative research and innovation as well as mobility and skill development schemes in Horizon 2020.”

Prof. Nanda made a presentation about SOA, presently ranked the 20th best university in the country, which is the youngest Deemed to be University to find a place among the top twenty.

Dr. Vivek Dham, Advisor- Coordinator, Research and Innovation to the delegation, explained the objectives of the visit while representatives of different European nations made presentations about the possibilities and opportunities in their respective countries. It was followed by an intense interactive discussion.

Some members of the visiting delegation expressed happiness that SOA already had MoUs with universities in their countries. The EU delegates also visited the Institute of Life Sciences and had interaction with the faculties for collaborative advanced research in the area of biotechnology, health sciences and environmental issues.

Ms. Tania Friederichs, First Counsellor and Head of Research & Innovation of European Union led the delegation and mentioned that the purpose of their visit is to identify research institutions with potential for carrying out cutting edge scientific research for partnering with EU countries. Director of ILS, Dr. Ajay Parida mentioned about the ongoing research at the institute focusing on cancer biology, infectious diseases and plant and environmental biotechnology.

He mentioned that ILS has established partnerships at local, national and international level and will be happy to collaborate with the EU countries on specific problems those requiring high scientific inputs. He also stressed that the advances of scientific research is appropriately translated to benefit the society at large.

The delegation included representatives of the embassies of Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Hungary and Denmark. The delegation agreed to facilitate short term visits of experts from EU countries to ILS.