Assessing North-South scientific cooperation: African-European research partnerships and their ideas of sustainability


Global challenges are said to be effectively tackled by knowledge-based societies. This turns science cooperation and their funding mechanisms into viable instruments for sustainable development. However, research shows that science cooperation does not always work out well, especially when structured by persistent North-South asymmetries. During the process of collaborative research projects such asymmetries can affect the agenda-setting, the financing mechanisms and the division of labour.

The study takes this observation as a starting point and assesses collaborative research agendas within African-European science partnerships especially in the fields of Neglected Tropical Diseases and Renewable Energy. Both fields belong to the core issues of our times and require a high degree of scientific cooperation. Simultaneously, both disciplines are affected by economic competition for research results and products. The study of private and public funding instruments and aims of six West European countries will shed light on the expectations and funding strategies for scientific collaboration as well as their changes during the last decades.

Such a comparative approach contributes to testing hypotheses in the literature on global diffusion of scientific organisation and norms of research. The results of this study are equally used to inform scientists, funding agencies, policy-makers and a wider audience about trends, patterns and the self-understanding in a growing field of global partnerships.