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National Dialogue on Synergies platform arouses interest throughout Europa

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Synergies are a strategic tool that can help Europe become greener, more digital and more resilient. With the "National Dialogue on Synergies", a unique multi-level platform with a Europe-wide role model function, DLR Projektträger is already contributing to these goals on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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19th July 2022 — On the 7th and 8th July 2022, the High-Level Conference "Synergies in the Research and Innovation Funding in Europe", with which the Czech Republic opened its Presidency of the European Council, took place in Prague. In the discussions among the approximately 160 participants from numerous European countries, it became clear that the topic of synergies is no longer just about financial aspects, but also about strategic aspects. DLR Projektträger was invited to this conference to present, on behalf of the BMBF, the "National Dialogue on Synergies" – the Ministry's central interdepartmental platform. This is a fixed exchange format that is probably unique in Europe at present and therefore serves as a model for similar instruments around the topic of synergies.

Developing solutions for social challenges with synergies

Attention to the issue of synergies has increased considerably recently. While the focus so far was mainly on financial synergies in order to pursue a common goal with different programmes, the discussions have shown that the strategic dimension is moving more and more into the foreground. This includes, for example, the development of a joint strategy in an initiative, partnership or project, but also the reference to adjacent technology and policy fields, to upstream and downstream value-added stages as well as the relevant political and administrative levels. According to the participants, it is precisely this cross-cutting orientation that predestines synergies as an instrument for developing and testing solutions for the upcoming societal challenges. Examples include the Green Deal, digital transformation and the recovery plan to deal with the consequences of the Corona pandemic.

"National Dialogue on Synergies": the unique multi-level platform

Dr Frank Osterhoff (photo above, right) from the DLR Projektträger European and International Cooperation Division presented an example of what such cross-cutting use of synergies can look like. On behalf of the BMBF, in a panel on the practical implementation of synergies, he presented the "National Dialogue on Synergies" – the ministry's central platform, where representatives of the research and economic ministries of the Federal and State governments meet and facilitate synergies between the EU's Horizon Europe research framework programme and the regional structural funds. The "National Dialogue on Synergies" is unique in that it is designed as a cross-departmental, multi-level platform. DLR Projektträger has been developing it since 2014, as part of the "EU Office of the BMBF" mandate.

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Generating synergies needs a common strategic vision. Pushing concrete and implementable visions – that is the special added value of synergies for the green and digital transformation and for a just and independent Europe.

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Dr Frank Osterhoff
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Policy Issues, European and International Cooperation
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Dr. Frank Osterhoff
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The participants of the panel agreed that in view of the high expectations attached to synergies, the exchange of knowledge and experiences, of good and also not so good examples, as well as collegial consultation and networking among each other were of particular importance. One of the most important results of the panel was therefore that the development of corresponding formats is now on the agenda. "Generating synergies needs a common strategic vision," Osterhoff says, summing up. "Pushing concrete and implementable visions – that is the special added value of synergies for the green and digital transformation and for a just and independent Europe."

“National Dialogue on Synergies” of the BMBF as a model for multi-level and multi-stakeholder governance

However, experience and tried and tested formats are often lacking, especially for broad application in practice. What is needed is a governance structure that facilitates exchange, joint learning and the further development of framework conditions and instruments – vertically between the European, national, regional and local levels, and horizontally between the initiatives, partnerships and projects. Such a governance structure has already been established in Germany with the BMBF's National Dialogue on Synergies. European awareness of this exemplary function has been made clear by the invitation to present the National Dialogue on Synergies at the Prague conference. DLR Projektträger will continue to develop the “National Dialogue on Synergies” in close coordination with the BMBF so that it can go on meeting changing expectations and fulfil its function for stakeholders in the future.

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