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The Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli, hosted the Deputy Director-General of the European Commission for Research and Innovation, Signe Ratso, and discussed Georgia's full involvement in the new EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe. Mikheil Chkhenkeli presented the steps taken in the development of science in Georgia, in great detail.
During the meeting, Mikheil Chkhenkeli emphasized that on March 3, Georgia officially submitted its application to join the European Union, which is the most important stage on the path of our country's European integration. The Minister expressed hope that this process will be crowned with the return of Georgia to the European family.
Additionally, Mikheil Chkhenkeli also informed Signe Ratso about the decision of the Georgian government to enroll Ukrainian children at Georgian schools who due to a current Ukrainian crisis are unable to continue their education at home.
According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, with the direct involvement of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, Georgia became a member of the new EU research and innovation framework program, Horizon Europe, and established the Horizon Europe National Office in Georgia, which is a very important step forward.
Moreover, according to the Minister, it is important that under this agreement, the representatives of Georgia in the competitions of the Horizon Europe program enjoy the exact same conditions and rights as the representatives of the field of science and innovation in the EU countries. As a result, Georgian universities and research institutes will be able to lead large international scientific consortia, develop and implement international doctoral programs in cooperation with European counterparts.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli expressed hope that the program will create and implement scientific projects in cooperation with leading research institutes in the EU, which will contribute to the growth of internationalization of science.
Furthermore, the Minister of Education and Science introduced the concept of Kutaisi International University, the main mega-project of Georgia, the author of which is Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili. It was because of his and his family's extremely important contribution that a world-wide academic and scientific-research space emerged in the country. According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, the university has a rapidly growing approval - based on the results of the 2021 Unified National Examinations. According to the average competition score, Kutaisi International University ranks first among state universities.
Also, during the meeting, the Minister also noted that the high standard of the university and the degree of internationalization are conditioned by the approach, which involves the creation of academic programs in cooperation with the world's leading universities in a specific field. In addition, lectures at the Kutaisi International University are given by foreign experts together with Georgian professors.
During the meeting with Signe Ratso, the Minister paid special attention to the opportunities for the development of science at Kutaisi International University and noted that owing to the funding by the Cartu Foundation, a Hadron Therapy Centre was established on the university premises. The Centre hosts two cyclotrons, which is used for cancer treatment and import research in nuclear physics.
According to Minister Chkhenkeli, the fact that one cyclotron is design completely for research and scientific purposes must be a particular interest to the international scientific community. Many well-known foreign scientists have already expressed a desire to get involved in the research process together with their Georgian colleagues. As the Minister stated, the placement of two cyclotrons in the Hadron Therapy Center is a strategic decision and important steps have been taken recently for its development. The production of the above-mentioned cyclotrons is well underway by one of the leading companies in the world – IBA. The development of the Hadron Therapy Centre is well in line with the time constraints, and it is scheduled to admit the first patient to the clinic in 2024.
Additionally, Mikheil Chkhenkeli expressed hope that many projects funded by Horizon Europe will be implemented with the involvement of foreign research institutions on the premises of the Therapy Centre. In this regard, Georgia is given a unique opportunity to become a major participant in studies in medical physics.
Within the scope of the meeting, Minister Chkhenkeli also stated that a network of university scientific grant offices has been set up, which will gradually cover all universities. According to him, grant offices have already been opened in several public higher education institutions, including Kutaisi International University, whose function will be not only to disseminate information about EU competitions, but also to assist scientific groups in preparing and managing a competitive project application.
For his part, the Deputy Director-General of the European Commission's Research and Innovation Directorate personally thanked the Minister for his efforts to ensure Georgia's accession to the new EU research and innovation framework program Horizon Europe. According to him, the establishment of Horizon Europe national and regional offices in the shortest possible time is the merit of the work of the Minister and the team of the Ministry as a whole.
Deputy Director-General Signe Ratso praised the conference "EU-Georgia - Full Involvement in Horizon Europe" held at Kutaisi International University on March 17-18 and said that the event was very informative and productive for all stakeholders involved. The guest also stressed that Georgia is the first country to host the first meeting of the EU-Georgia Joint Committee on Research and Innovation after full membership in the new EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe.
Signe Ratso, Deputy Director General of the European Commission for Research and Innovation paid a working visit to Georgia, where he participated in the conference "EU-Georgia - Full Involvement in Horizon Europe" held at Kutaisi International University on March 17-18. The event was opened by the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia Mikheil Chkhenkeli and was attended by the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel, EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel, Deputy Minister of Education and Science Nunu Mitskevichi, Head of Horizon Europe Maia Okujava, representatives of the EU delegation and scientific circles in Georgia and other invited guests.