CO-REACH - Coordination of Research between Europe and China

CO-REACH was a network of European S&T policy and funding organisations involved in promoting research co-operation between the EU and China in natural sciences, medical and life sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and humanities. This network intended to create coherence and synergy in Europe’s S&T relations with China by promoting the co-ordination of China related policies and associated research funding programmes of individual European countries.

CO-REACH was supported by the European Commission as an ERA-NET Co-ordination Action. The ERA-NET scheme was the principal measure within FP6 to support the coherence and co-ordination of national or regional research programmes within Europe, thereby promoting a European Research Area (ERA).


  • Austria:
    Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research, BMWF
  • Germany:
    Federal Ministry of Education , BMBF
    German Research Foundation, DFG
    International Bureau of the BMBF
  • Finland:
    The Academy of Finland, AKA
  • France:
    The French National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS
    The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MAE
    The French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research, MENESR
  • Hungary:
    National Office for Research and Technology, NKTH
  • Ireland:
    The Royal Irish Academy, RIA
  • Netherlands:
    The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, KNAW –Projektkoordinierung 
    The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, NWO
  • Norway:
    The Research Council of Norway, RCN
  • Poland:
    The Polish Academy of Sciences, PAN
  • United Kingdom:
    The British Academy, BA
    The Royal Society, RS

Project aims

The primary goal of CO-REACH was to develop joint activities and, ultimately, to establish one or more new European programmes of research co-operation with China. These new programmes built on the strengths of CO-REACH partners’ existing bilateral programmes with China and collectively addressed priority issues beyond the capacities of individual European countries.

In pursuing these goals, CO-REACH sought to fulfil four main objectives, namely:

  • To contribute towards building the ERA by counteracting the fragmentation of institutional, national and regional efforts at promoting research co-operation with China
  • To strengthen the international dimension of the ERA and provide a gateway to European S&T for Chinese organisations and researchers.
  • To strengthen European S&T relations with China by building the critical mass required for the support of new European programmes of research co-operation with China, and making optimal and durable use of resources to benefit European and Chinese S&T communities, economies and societies.
  • To foster strategic policy-making on European research co-operation with China and to identify critical research needs and priorities, as well as future challenges and opportunities, in both Europe and China.

Active cooperation of the International Bureau

The International Bureau was commissiomned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to act as National Contact Point for the German participation in the CO-REACH Pilot Call in Social Science Research. The design and implementation of this call was carried out until May 2009 in very close cooperation with the Joint Call Secretariat, which was located at the German Research Foundation (DFG). The International Bureau was responsible for the implementation of the online web-tool “pt-outline” for submission and evaluation of applications.

CO-REACH pilot call in Social Sciences and Humanities

In August 2008, the CO-REACH network launched the first multi-lateral Sino-European research programme in the field of social science research. The aim of the CO-REACH pilot call was to stimulate joint research between Europe and China by supporting collaborative research initiatives in thematic areas in the social sciences and humanities. This multilateral Sino-European pilot call was jointly funded by 11 research funding organisations from 6 European countries and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences from China. 

The outcomes of this exercise revealed that there was great interest amongst the research communities in China and Europe in developing joint research initiatives in the fields of social sciences and humanities (cultural heritage). In the pre-registration phase a total of 118 pre-registrations were received and during the subsequent full proposal phase more than 80 Sino-European research teams submitted a full proposal. All networks were truly multilateral, as the minimum requirement was that the networks should comprise at least two research groups from two different European countries and a research group from China (CASS institute).

The assessment and selection procedure of the proposals, involving a written international peer review procedure and assessment by a Scientific Evaluation Committee, was undertaken in the first half of 2009. The funding partners unanimously selected fourteen projects for funding. Interestingly enough, the fourteen projects cover all five thematic areas featured in the call for proposals:

  • Demography, family and welfare
  • Cultural heritage
  • Law, governance and policy-making
  • Participation, co-determination, employment and the quality of life
  • Labour market change, migration and social cohesion

Moreover, in terms of geographical representation all participating countries were involved in at least one of the projects.

The progress and outcomes of the research projects was closely monitored by the funding partners. Furthermore, CO-REACH decided to organise a mid-term conference at the end of 2010 aimed at reporting on progress made by all principal investigators from China and Europe. Further information and announcements on this conference were posted on the CO-REACH website. The outcomes of this pilot call were also be considered for the development of a follow-up phase for the CO-REACH project after its initial project span, which ended in May 2010.