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Closer ties for German U15 and Canadian unis

The German U15 group of research-intensive universities has signed a long-term agreement to support closer ties between researchers and universities at its Canadian counterpart, U15 Canada.

Members of the two associations met in Ottawa, and the U15 Canada has been invited to Berlin next year. Photo: @recteurUOpres/ X

In November, the EU began formal negotiations with Canada to join the Horizon Europe program

During meetings on August 28-29, senior leaders from the 15 German institutions visited Canada’s University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa in the first bilateral meeting of its kind between the two organisations.

The visit culminated in a joint statement committing to deepening exchanges, including through the sharing of best practices, enhanced consultation on emerging issues and the joint formulation of science policy.

The partners say they want to collaborate more closely at a time of “challenging upheaval and uncertainty”.

University members have a “vital role” to play in strengthening democratic societies and cooperation is needed to build a “successful, prosperous and inclusive future”.

Institutions want to become climate-neutral, shape disruption through artificial intelligence and advance diversity and fairness in academic careers at the same time as they face evolving threats to the security of research activities, they added.

Home to top researchers shaping world-leading research, U15 universities are “internationally facing”, Chad Gaffield, CEO of U15 Canada reiterated.

“This agreement represents the next step in forging closer international collaboration amongst the top research universities in Canada and Germany,” he said.

“Our hope is that by working closely together, we can continue to deliver research which is of real value to both Canada and Germany.”

Sustainability was also emphasised during discussions, with the partners agreeing that exploring the role of universities in tackling climate change be a first key focus of the expanded partnership.

Both associations also “expressed eager anticipation fora successful agreement” as Canada seeks to join the European Union’s flagship research Horizon funding program.

In November, the EU began formal negotiations with Canada to join the program, and New Zealand became an association partner earlier this year.

“We share the same values – a factor that is becoming increasingly important in view of the current geopolitical dynamics”

The new agreement noted that science is “becoming more geopolitical, with disinformation campaigns and attacks on evidence-based decision-making and debate processes on the rise”.

Faced with challenges that are “inherently international”, mutual learning and the joint formulation of political positions is more important than ever, the associations maintained.

“Science and research depend on exchange and cooperation across national borders,” said Georg Krausch, chair of German U15 and president of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, adding that the first bilateral meeting between the associations “was a resounding success”.

“I am very pleased that we will be working together even more closely and strategically in the future,” Krausch stated.

“The universities of U15 Canada are scientific powerhouses and are among the global leaders in future-oriented and cutting-edge research fields. Moreover, we share the same values – a factor that is becoming increasingly important in view of the current geopolitical dynamics.

“Overall, the meeting holds great potential to further strengthen the cooperation between research-intensive universities in both countries.”


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