The European Union and Latin American countries have a long history of research collaboration. Programmes like Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020 and funding schemes such as European Research Council (ERC) grants and Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions have fostered research projects by individual scientists and consortia formed by partners from both regions.
In addition, Latin American countries have signed bilateral science and technology (S&T) agreements with the European Commission (EC). Within this framework, both parties participate in setting common principles, goals and conditions necessary to ensure a level playing field for researchers from both sides of the Atlantic. Brazil and Mexico recently signed new bilateral S&T agreements with the EC in November 2021 and March 2022, respectively. Co-funding schemes signed by the EC and their counterparts (Conacyt in Mexico; CNPq, FINEP and CONFAP in Brazil) support national partners participating in successful Horizon Europe projects.
These initiatives aim to encourage participation from Latin American entities in Horizon Europe calls, strengthening bilateral relations between the EU and Latin American countries, especially in research topics with a supranational scope (climate change, disease prevention, and renewable energies, for example).
A successful example of bilateral co-funding was the project ENERXICO (2019-2021), which received grants from Horizon 2020 and the Mexican Department of Energy (CONACYT-SENER Hidrocarburos).
ENERXICO applied HPC techniques to energy industry simulations of critical interest to Mexico: oil & gas industry in upstream, midstream and downstream problems, wind energy industry and combustion efficiency for transportation. The main objectives of the project were:
- Develop beyond state-of-the-art high-performance simulation tools for the energy industry
- Increase the oil & gas reserves using geophysical exploration for subsalt reservoirs
- Improve refining and transport efficiency of heavy oil
- Develop a robust wind energy sector to mitigate oil dependency
- Improve fuel generation using biofuels
The consortium, coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the Mexican National Institute for Nuclear Research (ININ), included stakeholders from academia and the energy industry from the EU and Mexico.
Strengthening international cooperation goes beyond improving bilateral relations; S&T collaboration between regions can encourage increased multilateral research ecosystems within these regions, helping bridge the gaps in the Latin American scientific field due to the absence of a common regional funding source.