The Eastern Partnership Connect project, EaPConnect, enters a second phase from 1 July 2020. Coordinated by the GÉANT Association, the 60-month EU-funded ‘EU4Digital: Connecting Research and Education Communities’ project (EaPConnect2) will bring together the research and education (R&E) communities from European Union (EU) and Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and reduce the digital divide.
The new project will build on the achievements of the first EaPConnect project, which brought greater integration with GÉANT activities, services and networks, and benefits to research, education and wider society in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine:
- Internet connectivity prices were reduced by around 60% in Belarus and Ukraine and by around 80% in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, thanks to procurement activities carried out in collaboration with GÉANT.
- Internet connectivity to the pan-European GÉANT R&E network increased tenfold in capacity in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus and 7-fold in Armenia, as compared to the start of the first project.
- The number of connected institutions grew significantly in Georgia (17%), Armenia (26%) and Azerbaijan (58%) and around 800,000 students, researchers and staff at universities, research institutes and other connected institutions can now access EaPConnect partner networks and services.
- Researchers from fields as diverse as high-energy physics, seismology, climatology, biomedical sciences and speech synthesis and recognition made use of the provided networks and growing number of services.
- The project created and strengthened human networks with around 530 participants at four ‘EaPEC’ conferences and 30 training events and workshops, which gave around 500 participants the opportunity to meet and learn together.
The second EaPConnect project will extend the network infrastructure to scale-up scientific exchange across borders, increase the use of services implemented under EaPConnect and offer new services to enhance international R&E cooperation, and strengthen the position of EaP national research and education networks (NRENs) in their national R&E ecosystems.
Funding and partners
The project is funded under the EU4Digital initiative of the European Union. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Neighbourhoods and Enlargements Negotiations (DG NEAR) is contributing 95% (€10m) towards the costs, providing funding to the second EaPConnect project under Grant Agreement number ENI/2019/407-452; the remaining 5% is being co-funded by the six beneficiary countries.
The beneficiary partners in the second EaPConnect project are IIAP NAS RA (Armenia), IIT of ANAS (Azerbaijan), UIIP NASB (Belarus), GRENA (Georgia), RENAM (Moldova) and URAN (Ukraine). Co-beneficiary partners are DFN (Germany), EENet of HITSA (Estonia), LITNET (Lithuania), GRNET (Greece), GARR (Italy), PSNC (Poland), RoEduNet (Romania) and SURF (the Netherlands). The partners will work together in further conferences, workshops, mentorship relationships and other collaborative activities to achieve the project objectives and ensure the sustainability of research and education networking in the Eastern Partnership region.
Erik Huizer, GÉANT CEO says: “EaPConnect has strengthened the bonds between its partners and the GÉANT community, project and association, with positive effects on both sides. I look forward to these collaborations developing further in the coming years.”
EaPConnect project manager Veronika Di Luna (GÉANT) says: "I look forward to working with all the partners to take our work to the next level and provide further benefits to the EU-Eastern Partnership collaborations as well as to society and the research and education communities in the region."
EU4Digital aims to extend the benefits of the European Union’s Digital Single Market to the Eastern Partner states, channelling EU support to develop the potential of the digital economy and society, in order to bring economic growth, generate more jobs, improve people’s lives and help businesses. Through EU4Digital, the EU supports Eastern Partnership countries on reducing roaming tariffs, developing high-speed broadband to boost economies and expand e-services, harmonising digital frameworks across society, in areas ranging from logistics to health, building cyber security, developing skills, and creating more jobs in the digital industry.
About Eastern Partnership
With the Eastern Partnership the EU offers its partners in the Eastern Neighbourhood concrete, far-reaching support for democratic reform, sustainable development and overall stability. It recognises the importance of e-infrastructures in bridging the digital divide and bringing its partners closer to the EU.
GÉANT Association is a membership organisation acting with and for its members to further research and education networking in Europe and globally. GÉANT interconnects Europe's national research and education networking (NREN) organisations with an award-winning high bandwidth, high speed and highly resilient pan-European backbone – connecting Europe's researchers, academics and students to each other, and linking them to over half the countries in the world.