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Research and innovation

EU-Africa cooperation in research and innovation

The AU-EU High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation formulates long-term research and innovation policy priorities to strengthen Africa-Europe cooperation

Policy background

Africa is a geopolitical priority for the European Union. We have close economic, cultural and geographical ties, shared history, proximity and interests. EU-Africa relations are based on two complementary frameworks, the Africa-EU Partnership and the new Partnership Agreement with the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).

The Africa-EU Partnership is the formal political channel for the EU’s relations with Africa. It was established in 2000 at the first Africa-EU Summit in Cairo and continues to be guided by the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which was adopted at the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in 2007. At the Summit held in Brussels on 17 and 18 February 2022, a Joint Vision for 2030 was adopted.

EU-Africa cooperation in research and innovation

The AU-EU High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation formulates long-term research and innovation policy priorities to strengthen Africa-Europe cooperation. It was adopted at the 3rd AU-EU Summit in Tripoli in 2010 as an important element of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy.

Priorities and partnerships

Based on the work of the HLPD, the thematic priorities for research and innovation were announced during the first ministerial meeting of the African Union and European Union research and innovation ministers in July 2020.

Various networks and partnerships are active within each priority area.

AU-EU Innovation Agenda

The joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda, aims to transform and increase the innovative capacities and achievements of European and African researchers and innovators into tangible outputs, such as products, services, businesses and jobs. Supported by the Global Gateway, this Innovation Agenda, which was adopted on 19 July 2023 by both the AU and EU Commissions, represents the mainstay of the cooperation on Science, Technology and Innovation between Africa and Europe until 2033. 

It builds on the work of the Africa-Europe Innovation Partnership under the HPLD. 

The EU-AU Innovation Agenda is structured according to the 4 priority areas of AU-EU Cooperation in Research and Innovation: Public Health; Green Transition; Innovation and Technology; and Capacities for Science, in addition to Cross-cutting issues. It sets out short-, medium- and long-term actions, grouped according to these objectives.

It is accompanied by a Roadmap, a “living document” which provides an overview of the governance and coordination of the Agenda as well as an inventory of implementing initiatives. It will be constantly updated to include additional initiatives in the coming years. Several initiatives will contribute to its implementation, including European Union programmes such as Horizon Europe and the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package, the AU Commission, EU and AU Member States and other organisations.

As part of the joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda, the following steps have already been taken:

  • the AU-EU Innovation Interface was established to provide information on initiatives and opportunities for innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors, generated by the AU-EU Innovation Agenda. Among other resources, this Interface gives access to a new “AU-EU Deep Tech Transformation Training Scheme”, addressed to innovators and entrepreneurs. It also includes reports of workshops undertaken in the context of the Agenda.
  • An Innovation Festival was held in Cape Town, South Africa in June 2023, to provide a platform to showcase and discuss innovation with a specific focus on women innovators and young people.

A series of workshops is foreseen under the Agenda - the first, on Intellectual Property Rights took place in July 2023.

Green Transition

The main tools for implementing this priority are 2 long-term, jointly funded research and innovation partnerships under the HLPD:

Public Health

The main tool for implementing this priority is the EDCTP.

Funding opportunities

Horizon Europe, the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation, is open to the world, which means that participants from almost any country can participate in most calls. The EU can fund the participation in Horizon Europe collaborative research actions of entities established in EU Member States, in countries Associated to Horizon Europe, and in low- and middle-income countries. Most African partner countries are included in this latter category.

Africa Initiative II: the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 includes around 30 topics to boost EU-African cooperation in research and innovation. It reflects the EU-AU joint priorities on research and innovation and enables the implementation of the short-term and medium-term actions of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda. Open calls.

Mediterranean Initiative:  The Horizon Europe work programme 2023-2024 includes 37 topics that are flagged as particularly relevant for cooperation with the Mediterranean region. The calls can be found Open calls.

European Research Council

The European Research Council offers grants to researchers in all research domains for frontier research. Researchers from African countries are welcome to apply and if selected are eligible for funding to establish a research group in Europe.

Grants are available for researchers starting or consolidating their independent career and for advanced researchers. Synergy grants are also available, where a group of 2-4 Principal Investigators (PIs) may include one PI outside the EU or countries associated to Horizon Europe, to tackle together an ambitious research problem, with all funded by the ERC.

Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions 

Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions offer fellowships for post-doctoral researchers from African countries (and other countries) to spend up to 2 years in a European group – or for European researchers to spend up to 2 years in African Countries. Also offers opportunities for African institutions to participate in Doctoral Training Networks and Staff Exchange consortia.

Projects and results

Research project database (CORDIS): The Commission's primary portal for results of EU-funded research projects with Africa 

For previous research and innovation programmes, please contact the research enquiries service.

Horizon results platform: Participants of framework programmes present their results for you to search, contact their owners, and possibly form partnerships.


National Contact Points

The National Contact Points (NCPs) provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon Europe.

European Commission

RTD-F2-ASSISTatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (DG Research and Innovation unit F.2: International cooperation)

Euraxess Africa

Euraxess Africa  provides access to a complete range of information and support services for researchers in African and Mediterranean countries wishing to pursue a research career in Europe or looking for collaboration opportunities through Horizon Europe.

Research Enquiry Service

The research enquiry service replies to questions regarding research in Europe, the EU's research and innovation funding programmes as well as calls for proposals and project funding.


Publication cover
Report25 April 2024
Partnerships in Action: Addressing funding gaps to achieve the AU-EU Innovation Agenda

Hosted by the AU and the EU at the 6th Africa Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (ARSTIF) organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and virtually on 22 April 2024, the session brought together a diverse range of participants, including representatives from AU Member States, international and regional organisation, as well as young innovators. The session explored strategies for effectively mobilising resources to achieve the objectives of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, with a particular focus on addressing funding gaps.

Publication cover
Agenda19 July 2023
AU-EU Innovation Agenda

The final version of the Agenda was adopted in July 2023, following the Working Document published on 14 February 2022.


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