Small to Medium-sized Nations in International Collaborative Science

Thursday October 13th 2016
Palace of the Academies, Brussels

Small to Medium-sized Nations in International Collaborative Science

Forward Look in the context of the Flemish Thinkers programme of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts - KVAB

Grand challenges able to move the boundaries of our knowledge, or to address major hazards of concern for the whole of Mankind, call for the pooling of resources and the joining of forces at global scale, across borders and across oceans.

Recurrently, large collaborative research programmes, involving inter-governmental and non-governmental institutions and initiatives, universities, research institutes and public-private partnerships over the world, have brought the answer to such challenges.

The spark for such large ventures can ignite in any community, regardless its culture or size. Europe has proven a fertile, multi-cultural ground, and its close partnership with developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America in particular contributes to the shaping of a vast, unique collective pool of creativity. Yet, for small- to medium-sized nations or regions, the step from sparking an initiative to effectively following up and weighing on the geopolitical agenda can be large, despite clear political statements in support of such development.

The KVAB Forward Look “Small- to medium-sized Nations in International Collaborative Science” organized October 13th 2016 in Brussels – cradle of many international collaborative ventures which have brought benefice to Mankind – ambitions to address this question. Several scientists involved in international collaborative science will first reflect on their experience, in domains ranging from cosmology and the nature of matter to global environmental change and Human sciences. Next, a panel discussion between the scientists, delegates from European institutions and the audience will seek to identify pathways and processes which can enhance such development.

The horizon is vast, in scope and time. Collaborative science is considered at global scale, and hence global instruments and pathways will naturally move first into the picture. But it is obvious that for European nations and regions, European programmes and mechanisms form a natural habitat in which they thrive. In this regard, the upcoming mid-term evaluation of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020), which could register messages from the scientific community and consider course corrections where justified, makes such brainstorming exercise timely. But at the considered scale of ventures, the real horizon in Europe is the 9th Framework Programme starting in 2020, for which the scientific community needs to engage the reflection, and engage it now.

Contact: or

Participation is free of charge, registration in advance is required.


13:30 — Registration

14:00-16:00 — Setting the Stage

International Collaborative Science: Pathways, Instruments and Challenges

From the germ of Kosmos to Future Earth: 200 years of International Collaborative Science - Jean-Pierre Henriet, Ghent University, KVAB     Presentation

The shaping of IceCube - Francis Halzen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, KVAB     Presentation

In the heart of the Big Bang: the CMS Experiment at CERN - Jorgen D’Hondt, Brussels Free University, CERN, Young Academy     Presentation

Observing Gravitational Waves with The Einstein Telescope - Bert Vercnocke, Catholic University of Leuven     Presentation

The Integrated Carbon Observatory System in Belgium - Bert Gielen, University of Antwerp, ICOS Ecosystem Thematic Centre     Presentation

Monitoring Social Change in Europe: the ESS ERIC - Jaak Billiet, Catholic University of Leuven, KVAB     Presentation

16:00-16:30 — Coffee break

16:30-17:30 — Panel debate between Scientists and Officers of European Institutions

Small to Medium-Sized Nations in International Collaborative Science: roles to play – opportunities to forge

Introductory Statements & Panel debate

Paul Vossen - European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, Strategy unit of the Climate Action & Resource Efficiency Directorate RTD.I.1

Jean-Claude Worms - European Science Foundation ESF, Chief Executive Officer

Karin Metzlaff - European Plant Science Organisation EPSO, Executive Director; Initiative for Science in Europe, Chair Working Group on Collaborative Research

17:30-18:30 — Reception