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An increasing number of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are incorporating science, innovation and technology in national development agendas. The European Union (EU) and partner countries agree upon the strategic importance of investing in science, technology and skills development. The European Consensus on Development commits the EU and its Member States to continue investing in research and development, including enhancing national innovation systems, and through upgraded research and innovation capacity. A particular emphasis is on skills development, entrepreneurship and access to digital technologies for youth and women, with the aim to promote girls and women's rights and empowerment, and to offer young people opportunities to benefit from technological progress.
Yet, despite the increasing stock of global know-how and technical knowledge, relatively few countries have been able to leverage this stock of knowledge to achieve sustained catch-up with the more advanced economies. Strong innovation performance remains limited to those countries able to coordinate policies for education, skills development, research and innovation; at the same time, effective interactions amongst all the actors of the innovation system are key success factors to promote learning and knowledge accumulation. Moreover, well-functioning labour market information systems need an effective network of actors capable of timely observing, analysing and translating skill needs into training and education initiatives. In fact, investments in R&I capability are likely to pay a high dividend if embedded in an effective innovation eco-system, including opportunities for collaboration between R&I institutions, industry and academia, combined with efforts to constitute a critical mass of skilled people.
The ACP-EU Programme to strengthen Research and Innovation capacity in ACP countries (hereafter, the Programme) builds upon the results of and expands the support provided by previous ACP-EU initiatives on research, science, technology and innovation. Research and innovation have long being recognised by the EU and the ACP countries as important aspects of their cooperation; in fact, they have been the focus of three consecutive programmes aimed at strengthening research and innovation eco-systems (i.e. ACP Science and Technology programme I and II) and in support of applied research (i.e. ACP Research for Sustainable Development programme). These initiatives highlighted the value-added of the intra-ACP dimension in disseminating, exchanging and facilitating the uptake of knowledge.
The Programme proposes a strategic approach to building R&I capability in ACP countries by helping structure their innovation eco-systems and inducing change at interlocking levels: policy development, knowledge transfer, and capacity of research and innovation stakeholders. This is meant to be achieved inter alia through the implementation of the ACP Innovation Fund.
More details about this fund and how to apply can be found here .