Interview with Luigi Scarpa de Masellis
Luigi Scarpa de Masellis joined the Delegation of the European Union to Canada in September 2005. As Senior Advisor in the Trade and Economic Section , he is responsible for contributing to the fulfillment of the Delegation’s mandate regarding EU-Canada cooperation, notably in the fields of science, technology, and innovation; climate change; energy; environment; and transport. Mr. Scarpa de Masellis spoke with ECCIR about the importance of innovative collaboration between Europe and Canada and what the EU Commission’s decision to renew the Enterprise Europe Network Canada means for the national innovation landscape.
- Tell us about yourself, Luigi.
My name is Luigi Scarpa de Masellis, and I am a senior advisor in the Trade and Economic Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada. I am responsible for various portfolios including research and innovation, energy, and digital cooperation between the EU and Canada. In the many years I have been in this role, I have been able to witness – and hopefully contribute to – the significant progress in the overall bilateral relationship, particularly in my areas of responsibility.
- The European-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research (ECCIR) has just been confirmed as the Network Coordinator for the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)—Canada until 2025. What benefits and opportunities does the EEN bring to the Canadian innovation landscape?
The EEN brings many benefits and opportunities to the Canadian innovation landscape. First of all, it increases awareness of Canadian companies regarding doing business in Europe which, in turn, improves access by Canadian SMEs to partnering opportunities with EU SMEs. The EEN can also provide Canadian SMEs with access to financing and services in Canada to support business development and technology partnerships and, more broadly, support the integration of SMEs into international supply chains, a key issue in the current context given the widespread global disruptions.
- Can you give us your perspective on the advantages of innovative collaboration between European and Canadian organizations that you have observed as an Advisor in the Economic and Commercial Affairs Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada?
The EU and Canada’s research and innovation (R&I) collaboration to tackle societal challenges and promote sustainable development is a fundamental chapter in our overall relationship, as reflected most recently in the 2021 EU-Canada Summit Joint Declaration. The EU-Canada R&I cooperation has blossomed over the last years in areas such as health, aviation, marine and Arctic, clean energy and bioeconomy, research infrastructures and researchers’ mobility. An impressive number of Canadian partners participated in the past Framework Programmes and Canada is third on the list of Third Countries that have participated in Horizon 2020. We are continuously striving to improve the systemic conditions to facilitate collaborations.
Also, the launch and implementation of the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) and in particular the co-funding mechanism allocating CAD 50M/ EUR 35M (over 5 years) for Canadian researchers to participate in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe consortia represented a ground-breaking development in our cooperation. Continued provision of matching funding to Canadian researchers will be critical while negotiations on the potential association to Horizon Europe are conducted.
- What role can Canadian-European cooperation play in helping us overcome global challenges, particularly as they relate to the scientific, environmental, energy, and technology sectors?
International cooperation in research and innovation is a strategic priority for the EU. It enables access to the most up to date knowledge and the best talent worldwide. We want to go even further and enhance cooperation with key strategic partners around the world, such as Canada. Global challenges are important drivers for research and innovation, and we have a very powerful tool to address these challenges.
I mentioned earlier Horizon Europe. It is by far the largest multilateral research and innovation programme globally, with a budget of 95.5 billion euros (approximately 130 billion Canadian dollars), covering the 2021-2027 period. It focuses on nurturing the best talents in Europe and beyond and is widely open to the world. For the first time in the history of the EU’s Research and Innovation Framework Programmes, Horizon Europe provides for the possibility of association of third countries – such as Canada – located beyond Europe’s geographical vicinity.
Association is a privileged form of partnership, and the closest form of international cooperation under the Programme. The EU is particularly glad about the perspective of welcoming Canada, a long-standing political and economic ally, as a privileged partner in terms of association. Canada’s association would build on a solid history of cooperation. With access to Horizon Europe funding and reinforced capacity to build and even coordinate partnerships, Canadian and European collaborations could grow even more to effectively address the global challenges of our century: climate change, environmental degradation, the digital and technological transition, as well as threats to public health such as COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, civil security, and secure energy supply. Association to Horizon Europe would also help the EU and Canada to strengthen their long-standing partnerships in research programmes bolstering collaboration, accelerating result valorization, and building new bridges in this already strong relationship.