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Jokin Bildarratz is taking part in the 2nd Euroregion University Forum in Biarritz.

2024 February 12
  • The Euroregional University Cooperation Platform was officially launched during the forum sessions.
  • The morning session was held for the network of Cross-Border Cooperation Laboratories, LTC Sarea.

This afternoon, Jokin Bildarratz, the Regional Minister for Education, participated in the opening of the 2nd University Forum of the New Aquitaine-Basque Country-Navarre Euroregion in Biarritz. Recognising the significance of collaboration among academic institutions in the Euroregion, this forum aims to strengthen and foster university links. Gérard Blanchard, Vice-President for Higher Education and Research of the Regional Council of New Aquitaine, and Patricia Fanlo, Councillor for Universities, Innovation and Digital Transformation of the Government of Navarre, participated in the opening ceremony.

During his speech at the opening, Jokin Bildarratz emphasised the extensive work and progress made in university cooperation, particularly the established collaboration between the universities of the Basque Country, Aquitaine and Navarre. He expressed his strong belief in collaboration and alliances, emphasising that the Euroregion provides an excellent framework for building cohesive partnerships. He also highlighted the importance of further developing this path in the future.

The minister cited the network of Cross-Border Cooperation Laboratories Laboratories (LTC) as an excellent example of international cooperation. The LTCs demonstrate how cross-border collaboration can achieve excellence. This project is one of the most significant initiatives of the Euskampus Bordeaux Cross-Border Campus, led by UPV/EHU and the University of Bordeaux (UB). The Basque Government's Department for Education has contributed 2 million euros towards its development and promotion in 2021. Bildarratz celebrated the success of the Cross-Border Cooperation Laboratories. He highlighted their value as a tool for conducting excellent research on strategic issues of interest to the Euroregion, attracting and creating talent in our universities, and promoting internationalisation. The laboratories connect our universities with the best research centres and universities in Europe and the world, increasing our influence in the Euroregion.

Considering the ongoing social and economic transition in the Euroregion and Europe as a whole, particularly in the areas of demographics, ecology, and digitalisation, Bildarratz emphasises the need to anticipate future professional requirements and encourage research and innovation. He encouraged the Universities Forum to identify and address future science and technology training needs from a broad perspective, taking into account all university systems in the Euroregion and their capacities.

Bildarratz attended the University Forum governance meeting, which was attended by representatives of the three regional governments (vice-presidents and councillors), regional university rectors and members of the Euroregion Executive Committee. The meeting reviewed the progress made in Euroregional cooperation between universities and the main lines of action for each university in the coming years. Policies needed to accelerate this process of collaboration were also discussed.

Euroregional University Cooperation Platform

The second university forum also served as the official presentation of the Euroregional University Cooperation Platform, which has been in development over the past year. The Euroregion aims to provide a digital space dedicated to Euroregional university cooperation with this tool. The platform aims to enhance collaboration among agents involved in mobility, research, and internationalisation of Euroregion universities. The main goal is to enhance research connections among academic institutions, thereby solidifying a network of shared knowledge. The NAEN Euroregion aims to use this tool as a catalyst for forming a robust and united Euroregional academic community in the long run.

Cross-Border Cooperation Laboratories

This morning, the Cross-Border Cooperation Laboratories (LTC Sarea) network held a meeting in Biarritz. More than 80 registered participants, including senior and junior researchers, attended the meeting chaired by Adolfo Morais, Deputy Regional Minister for Universities and Research, and Cristina Uriarte, Commissioner for Science, Technology and Innovation. The network currently comprises of 7 LTCs and 11 LTC incubators.

The LTCs are laboratories without walls, coordinated by Euskampus fundazio, and are one of the most emblematic projects of the Euskampus Bordeaux Cross-Border Campus. The teams from UPV/EHU, Tecnalia, the University of Bordeaux, and their partners collaborate on a common research programme, promoting the exchange of existing resources, both human and equipment, and costs.

Two researchers, one from the Basque Country and the other from the University of Bordeaux, coordinate their work to directly impact the objectives of the Euskadi 2030 Science, Technology and Innovation Plan and the Euroregion's strategy. They receive funding from both universities, the Basque Government, and staff in training. From 2022, they will also be eligible for grants from ADAGIO, a European COFUND post-doctoral fellowship programme. Since 2021, the Department for Education has invested €2 million in promoting the LTC Sarea network.

The Cross-Border Campus has now led to seven LTCs, including the recently selected AquEus LTC. This LTC addresses the potential environmental risks of micro- and nanoplastics, including bioplastics, in the Bay of Biscay. The first, QuantumChemPhys, was created in 2017 and is dedicated to research in chemistry and physics at the quantum scale. This was followed by AENIGME (the Aquitaine Basque Country Network in Green Manufacturing and Ecodesign), TRANSMATH, which focuses on mathematics and its applications; GREEN CONCRETE, which deals with sustainable cement-based composite materials; COMORPD, which focuses on non-motor comorbidities in Parkinson's disease; and Trans Light, which is dedicated to Photonics.

The Basque Government's contribution has enabled the launch of the LTC Sarea initiative. This has not only facilitated the implementation of ambitious work agendas focused on training, research, transfer, and internationalisation of existing LTCs, but has also provided support to research groups on both sides of the border who wish to strategically create an LTC or participate in the existing LTCs to develop their collaborative projects through the LTC Incubator tool.

There are currently 11 LTC incubators in various fields, including health, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, bio-materials, environmental resistance to antibiotics, bio-engineering, archaeology, bio-nutrition, and social sciences. 

Euroregional University Cooperation

The Euroregion is currently home to over 250,000 students, spread across 11 public and private universities. The percentage of individuals with higher education degrees in this region is 5.9 points higher than the EU average, and this growth has been consistent over the past decade. Several university networks have been established in the region for higher education purposes, including various campuses of international excellence such as Euskampus and Iberus, as well as European universities.

Since its inception, the Euroregion has focused on promoting university cooperation and student mobility to facilitate “borderless” education and research.

Cooperation enables the promotion of training and research across Euroregional universities, while also facilitating the mobility of students, teaching, and research staff. However, it is essential to ensure that all parties involved have sufficient knowledge of each other's offers, projects, and capabilities. This strategy is based on three main areas of work: networking; research and training; and mobility.

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Politicians attending the event