On Monday, March 22nd, 2021, once again and in the framework of its lighthouse project “Clusters of Scientific Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa” (COSIMENA).

It was an honour for the DAAD Regional Office Cairo to support the implementation of EU funded projects in Egypt via a “PRIMA Matchmaking Info Session 2021”, in order to enhance the country’s  participation in the EU-funded PRIMA programme. The event has become a good tradition for the DAAD in Cairo and is an initiative organized in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) and the Co-Chair of the PRIMA Foundation (located in Spain), Prof. Dr Mohamed El-Shinawi, Advisor to H.E. the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Egypt.

PRIMA stands for “The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area”. The initiative aims to devise new Research & Innovation approaches to improve water availability and sustainable agriculture production in a region heavily distressed by climate change, urbanization, and population growth. The Info Session highlighted PRIMA’s general goals in supporting researchers, professors and practitioners to initiate new transnational research projects by submitting proposals for the PRIMA call 2021. While implementing such new and innovative scientific projects, this is one step more towards securing nutrition, improving health and creating a sustainable environment in the Mediterranean Area.

The event started with welcoming words from the Director of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo, Ms. Isabell Mering, underlining the Egyptian-German Cooperation in the academic and scientific field which has a very long tradition of are than 60 years in the country. Following the opening words of Ms. Mering, Professor Dr Mohamed El-Shinawi conducted a keynote on “PRIMA Calls & Topics 2021”, in which he presented the rules and regulations of the current Call 2021 and the main themes the researchers could apply for.

The PRIMA main features and culture revolves around long-term commitment, equal participation of the partners, avoiding fragmentation, focusing on innovation and establishing long-term relationships with all stakeholders. The 2021 call consists of three main thematic areas: water management, farming systems and agro-food value chain. The work plan is based on priorities described in the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and there are 19 countries which participate in the PRIMA-fund including Germany, Egypt, France and others.   Prof. Dr El-Mohamed El-Shinawi continued talking about the PRIMA call priorities and novelties 2021, stating that without innovation we would not  be able to face the current challenging problems worldwide; therefore and according to the speaker it would be indispensable to  work on the elimination of barriers that might exist and might be hurdles for real innovation. At the same time, Prof. El-Shinawi underlined the importance of opening new markets and supporting start-ups in the Mediterranean area as an integral part of following and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. He also talked briefly about the PRIMA Intelligent Analytical Tool: in the past years, around 129 projects have been funded with a total of 164 million Euros.

A second keynote entitled “Application Procedure and Pointers for a Successful Proposal” was offered by Dr Mohamed Wageih, the PRIMA Foundation Officer. His presentation provided practical information and guidelines about the application procedure, possible hot topics the evaluation processes of the applications as well as award mechanisms and advising with regard to successful proposal writing.

The informative event was concluded by an interactive discussion and an in-depth look into each topic of the PRIMA Call 2021, respectively “Agrofood”, “Farming” and “Nexus & Water”. The discussion and networking groups were conducted each by an expert in the specific field: The discussion concerning “Agrofood” was headed and moderated  by Dr Amr Helal, CEO of Health Tech, the discussion about “Farming” by Ms. Dorra Fian,  President of  Knowledge Economy Foundation & Managing Partner of Knowledge Co. for Sustainable Development, and the third group “Nexus & Water” was moderated by Dr Dina Kafafi, Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Higher Education for University Affairs.

The participants praised the initiative and networking opportunity and they were thankful for the useful insights provided by the speakers.

The DAAD Regional Office Cairo wishes all potential applicants good luck for their proposals and the application process! We hope to discuss the results of these important project options under the umbrella of the PRIMA initiative and learn from the outcomes and impacts in future networking opportunities!