CASCADE (Collaborative Action towards Societal Challenges through Awareness, Development, and Education)

The European Union recognise a need to strengthen internationalisation through strategic policy action to tackle global challenges. According to the European Commission report (2012) on 'Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation', global challenges are important drivers for research and innovation and the EU needs to strengthen its dialogues with international partners to build critical mass for tackling these challenges. The interim evaluation of Framework Programme 7 (FP7) stated that there needs to be an 'intensification of international cooperation' activities focused on 'engaging with partners outside of Europe on equal terms and in programmes and activities of high mutual interest'. Accordingly, three main objectives were set by the European Commission (2012) for International cooperation in research and innovation:

  • Strengthening the Union's excellence and attractiveness in research and innovation as well as its economic and industrial competitiveness by creating win-win situations and cooperating on the basis of mutual benefit; by accessing external sources of knowledge; by facilitating access to new and emerging markets; and by agreeing on common practices for conducting research and exploiting the results;
  • Tackling global societal challenges by developing and deploying effective solutions more rapidly and by optimising the use of research infrastructures;
  • Supporting the EU's external policies through international cooperation in research and innovation as an instrument of soft power and a mechanism for improving relations with key countries and regions.

In this context, the project CASCADE was initiated as an 18 month supporting action to enhance the international cooperation in research and innovation between the EU and South Asia with the financial support from the European Union's FP7 Programme. The need for linkages with Asian countries has been highlighted given the region’s rapidly growing research and innovation capacities and the urgency to address global challenges. South Asia in particular is home to more than 40% of the world’s absolute poor, but will contribute nearly 40% of the growth in the world’s working-age population in the coming decades. CASCADE is an opportunity for raising awareness of the potential for EU-Southern Asia cooperation and stimulating regional and international participation. With the active contribution of South Asian countries, the endeavour will be to pave the way for more advanced, inclusive and innovative societies.

The project CASCADE aims to provide the foundation for a future International Cooperation Network Programme (INCONET) targeting South Asian Countries, which will promote bi-regional coordination of science and technology cooperation.  The specific objectives of CASCADE are to:

  1. Compile a regional position paper that identifies global challenges and research priorities;
  2. Map and develop an inventory of national and regional stakeholders related to global challenges;
  3. Raise awareness on research and innovation priorities for fostering cooperation and towards building mutual understanding on how to address common global societal challenges.

CASCADE is led by Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga at GDRC. She can be contacted at:

The research has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 609562. This article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.