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EU-Russia co-operation in aeronautics research takes another leap forward

On 28-30 March 2007, EU and Russian researchers, policy makers and business people met in Moscow to identify topics of mutual interest and potential collaboration in the field of aeronautics research for 2008 and beyond. The event was the third in a series of high-level workshops aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership between two world powers.

Moscow © Peter Gutierrez
© Peter Gutierrez

“For the European science and technology community and for the European Commission, this event takes place at the right moment,” said Andràs Siegler, Director-General of the Commission’s Research DG. “Aeronautics is a strategic resource for both Europe and Russia and, as we begin the Seventh Research Framework Programme [FP7], this event gives us an excellent opportunity to present to you the FP7 Aeronautics theme and its international co-operation dimension.”

With the programme for the second FP7 call (2008) now being prepared, explained Siegler, the Moscow workshop was seen as an essential step in defining research topics of mutual interest. Industry and Research Centres from both sides had a chance to meet, discuss their ideas and exchange experiences.

Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) Director Vladimir Kargopoltsev opened the workshop, welcoming delegates and expressing his positive expectations for the event. TsAGI is one of the world’s largest scientific research centres, combining basic studies, applied research, structural design, pilot production and testing.

Evgeny Gorbunov, Head of the Aeronautical Industry Department at ROSPRUM, also addressed the opening assembly. Workshop sessions focused on collaboration experience, future perspectives, research priorities and the FP7 work programme, and included plenty of opportunities for direct contact and networking. Also on the programme were visits to several impressive Russian research facilities around Moscow, including TsAGI, CIAM, GosNIIAS and VIAM.

Proven international partnership

Evgeny Gorbunov and Andràs Siegler
Evgeny Gorbunov and
Andràs Siegler

Science and technology co-operation between Russia and the EU has a long history. There have been many bilateral co-operation agreements between European Member States and Russia and many European-Russian collaborations are taking place directly between companies and research partners.

“Today, the Russian Federation is the first partner of the EU in terms of scientific and technical co-operation,” said European Commission Deputy Director for Research Zoran Stančič. “This is quite natural as we are close neighbours, but it is also the result of political will from both parties. Our collaboration in aeronautics research under the Sixth Framework Programme [FP6] has been a real success, allowing the significant development of our co-operative activities. This is partly due to the contacts and networks established between researchers and engineers from our communities and the setting up of effective working groups.”

400 Russian organisations now participate in 200 FP6 projects, garnering an EU contribution of €45 million. This represents 20% of all non-EU country participation. The second and third EU partners are China and the US. In the field of Aeronautics, there are currently 33 Russian organisations participating in 25 research projects, 47% of all non- EU participants in that domain.

“Research co-operation between our communities permeates so many areas that it has become key in the overall EU-Russia relationship,” said Siegler.

Planning strategic future

“The participation of Russian organisations in aeronautics projects under the European Union’s Framework Programme is quite substantial,” said Stančič. “What is needed now is to reinforce this co-operation through projects of a strategic nature. This is the right moment to tighten our partnership and prepare a common plan for the future.”

Stančič cited a strong political willingness on both sides to strengthen co-operation, demonstrated in recent discussions between Manuel Silva Rodríguez, EU Director-General of DG Research, and Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrey Fursenko.

Zoran Stančič
Zoran Stančič (left)

“Russia and the European Union, through their respective research programmes, have in hand the instruments for implementing these collaborative projects,” he said. “The EU, on its side, is preparing the work programme for year 2008, and we are all now looking forward to your contribution to this programme. Based on all our information, we now have high expectations in terms of the outcome of this workshop in terms of significant and concrete results.”

Andràs SIEGLER also closed on a positive note, saying, “The large number of participants here today, from both Russian and European sides, demonstrates the interest and willingness of our communities to go further in co-operative aeronautics research.”