About Cost

COST – Framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology www.cost.eu

COST is a framework for European cooperation in scientific and technological research. It was launched at a European ministerial conference in November 1971. In other words, COST began the process of coordinating European cooperation in research and development even before the start of the EU’s Research Framework Programmes. COST currently has 35 member states and one cooperating state (Israel). Institutions from non-member states can also participate.

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1. BASIC OBJECTIVES

Research is becoming more and more international and interdisciplinary. This is where COST comes in: it pools national research activities across Europe in transdisciplinary networks (COST Actions). This also enables unbureaucratic access to global collaborations.
COST contributes to:

Covering the need for international cooperation and transdisciplinary research
Making effective use of existing knowledge, technical equipment and financial resources across Europe and creating sustainable networks
Identifying new thematic fields and triggering follow-up research activities
Complementing the EU Research Framework Programme
Strengthening Europe’s position in scientific and technological research and development
Supporting young researchers

2. STRUCTURE AND TOPICS

Like EUREKA, COST does not define research topics, but works according to the bottom-up principle: new COST Actions are proposed by researchers themselves. A Memorandum of Understanding is drafted for each COST Action and signed by those COST member states (at least 5) that want to participate with their own researchers. The networks are organized according to the à-la-carte principle – member states only participate if they are interested; they are not obliged to take part in all Actions.

In the 40 years since it was launched, COST has developed into one of the largest cooperation frameworks for research. 50,000 researchers from 35 European COST member states are currently involved in 235 ongoing COST Actions. More than 100 research institutions from non-COST member states as well as international NGOs are also taking part. Germany is involved in almost all of the Actions.

3. ADDED VALUE FOR EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS AND BUSINESSES

COST is a flexible, intergovernmental research framework for European cooperation in science and technology which brings together researchers from across Europe and beyond in productive, interdisciplinary networks. COST is a cornerstone of the European Research Area. Its strengths lie in pre-competitive research, standard development, cross-border and cross-sectoral solutions, and research on issues of public interest. COST successfully makes use of synergies, thus adding value to European research. Not least, COST also promotes European integration. It offers easy access for institutions from non-member states, making for interesting opportunities to solve global problems.

4. BEST PRACTICE / SUCCESS STORIES

COST Actions cover a wide range of different topics, from basic research to cooperation between research and industry, for example in the development of standards: the GSM mobile phone standard emerged from several COST Actions and gave the European telecommunications industry a competitive edge over the US.

In cooperation with biotechnology companies, COST Actions have also enabled Europe to achieve a leading position in biological pest control in agriculture. The use of nematodes for snail and slug control is an outstanding example.

The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts in Reading (UK) is one of the best known COST success stories and an example of the long-term impact of COST Actions. It emerged from the first COST Actions in the field of meteorology and is now one of the world’s leading institutions for research and application in medium term weather forecasting. Its reliable weather forecasts have become indispensable in everyday life – for agriculture, energy supply, commerce and, of course, for people’s leisure activities.

COST benefits society and also deals with many aspects of the social sciences and humanities. It addresses concrete problems, such as access to public transport for older or disabled people. Results of COST Actions in this field have already been implemented in many European cities