In coordination with the African BioImaging Consortium and Imaging Africa, two recently created initiatives, France-BioImaging (FBI) wishes to extend its partnership with colleagues in Africa that have interest in using advanced microscopy approaches for their own research programs and projects. With this in mind and in the framework of the Horizon Europe Programme, France-BioImaging designed two calls to strengthen collaboration between African and French researchers in biology.

Call 1: External Access

Call 2: Twinning program African BioImaging-France-BioImaging communities

Deadline for submission of proposals: April 30th, 2023 at 23h59 CET.

Call design

These two calls have been primarily designed to strengthen collaboration between African and French researchers and engineers in all fields in biology, health and agro-ecology where the contribution of the rapidly expanding technologies of digital imaging has become essential. The ambition of these calls is in line with the anticipation of bilateral research funding programs between Europe and Africa in the framework of the Horizon Europe Program.

  • FBI wishes to participate in the development of projects of African colleagues by opening up the microscopy and other technologies available on the national infrastructure park (https://france-bioimaging.org/services/) within its facilities and Research and Development teams.
  • Beyond that, FBI wishes to initiate long-term collaborations with the African community in biological imaging, through an exchange program with a vocation of trans-national twinning between laboratories/facilities/institutes/universities on both sides. We envisage a first mutual benefit by focusing on service activities and practices, training approaches and comparison of needs.

We will fund : 

  • Call 1) African user projects that will demonstrate the need for at least one technology and/or expertise available in a FBI core facility or R&D team, that is not readily available on the African continent (full cost coverage)
  • Call 2) Exchange of personnel between an imaging facility or a laboratory wishing to open an imaging service in Africa and one of its counterparts within the FBI perimeter. (Cost coverage TBD between partners) 

Eligibility criteria

All submitted information can be written either in English or French.

Call 1) This External Access call to FBI perimeter is defined as follows:

  • A project related to all type of biological topics (fundamental biology, health such as infectious diseases, cancer, agro-ecology including plant or marine biology, biodiversity…) which requires imaging technologies and methodologies not easily accessible in Africa and provided by one of the FBI facilities or R&D labs as listed in (https://france-bioimaging.org/services/
  • The application must be filed jointly by the Responsible of the French R&D team or facility and the responsible of the African Project1.
  • This call is primarily devoted to explore/initiate new projects in order to develop new collaborations. However, exceptions can be granted on a case-by-case basis, for instance to reinforce the work of a PhD student, add new elements, prepare publication…(contact the coordination to check eligibility). 
  • Imaging experiments (DATA acquisition and/or learning new methods of Image analysis) should be feasible within 2 to 3 weeks. 

Call 2) the “Twinning program” call is defined as follow:

  • No scientific project per se is required. 
  • This call is focused on the exchange of practices, main scientific interests and knowledge between scientists specialized or potentially interested in the management of imaging facilities. In other words, to link structures through people, with the perspective to initiate future projects at a higher level.
  • As such, it is a bilateral exchange (i.e.: a person from an established facility or laboratory specialized or wishing to become so in biological imaging from Africa sends a person to France and vice versa).
  • It is built together by both parties and requires official approval (University, Institute, FBI node representative,…)1
  • Short visit reports will be sent to FBI within 30 days after return of the missions.

1 The project must be prepared, written and approved by both partners. It is thus important for them to take contact in advance. For any information please contact : africa-france_jibi@france-bioimaging.org

Awards

In the context of the Call 1 External Access, France-BioImaging will insure the full coverage of selected projects that are feasible within 2 to 3 weeks (including travelling, hosting, current costs of equipment usages + other expenses) with a limitation at 5 K€ maximum. Projects on site can last longer, at the expenses of the partners. Co-funding of projects is encouraged. A preliminary budget is required.

In the context of the Call 2 Twinning Exchange Program, France-BioImaging will fund exchange projects for a maximum of 4k€. This should insure at least travelling (for both parts) and the hosting, local travelling and expenses for one person, for a 2 week visit in France. Hosting expenses in Africa will depend on the onsite possibility (should be discussed ahead). Since it is a Twinning program, no experimental and/or equipment usage is covered.

Context, Aims, Perspectives

Context: As partners in various initiatives to create a global community in biological imaging (Global BioImaging) and to foster the building of a pan-African community in this field, as initiated by BioImaging’s African partners (link to ABIC and AMI), France-BioImaging wishes to improve its collaboration with colleagues, especially in countries where French is still one of the main languages in the higher education and research communities. 

The aims of these calls: The present calls are designed to open and initiate collaborative programs with African colleagues, based on scientific excellence and innovative approaches, for all fields where biological imaging technologies and methodologies became essential. This stands for scientific projects (Call 1) and for the twinning exchange program (Call 2) between imaging facilities, between imaging facilities and lab specialised in imaging, between imaging facilities and lab/Institutions that plan to develop or promote a career curriculum in bioimaging service.

  • By opening access to the FBI imaging core facilities 
  • By providing training on advanced imaging devices analysis and management on the data they produce
  • By helping our partners in capacity building of the African imaging community 
  • By favouring and reinforcing contacts, meetings and personal exchanges, to share interests, education objectives, programs and tools

Call 1 ACCESS. The project should include:

  1. How the proposed project matches the needs of the African scientists  and what is the expected scientific output (not excluding industrial/economical impact) 
  2. A demonstration that technologies and/or expertise are not easily available locally while provided in the FBI landscape 
  3. A description of the experiments to be performed, within the duration of the visit and how this would boost the Scientist project (provide a timeline during a 2/ 3 weeks visit, onsite)
  4. Agreement by both parties on the purpose of the study, which means that the Imaging FBI Facility/R&D and the African partner must design the project together.

Call 2  TWINNING. The project should include: 

  1. Demonstration of a shared motivation. What are the expectations of such a bilateral exchange (from both sides) such as sharing practices, learning about respective scientific interests of both partners, opening collaborative aspects…
  2. A small program of both visits. Remember that this call is not intended to develop a scientific project per se, but to bring imaging scientists from both communities together. These programs should include onsite presentations of activities in the respective countries.
  3. A small report is to be submitted by each participant within 1 month after the visit.

Perspectives: As a broad perspective, these two calls are aimed at developing common projects that could be part of future opportunities and thus to prepare collaborations for future opportunities, either within the framework of African or European institutional calls for projects, or as proposed by various foundations.

Selection process and Evaluation criteria

Projects will be evaluated and selected by a committee of independent reviewers assembled by FBI and ABIC/AMI.

CALL1 External Access Applications will be scored according to the 4 following criteria which have an equal weight

  • Estimation of the scientist project technical/methodological needs 
  • Scientific quality, innovation and originality of the proposal
  • Implementation, timeline of the project, adequacy of resources with the proposed project (FBI will finance up to 5K€)
  • Potential extension for long term/future collaborations

CALL2 Twinning Exchange Applications will be scored according to the 4 following criteria which have an equal weight

  • A clear interest in comparing experiences through immersion in both environments 
  • Quality of the program in terms of objectives and respective contributions (examples: sharing practices in educational and/or vocational training; tools/ways for service provision; budget planning; scientific landscapes and openness…)
  • Implementation, timeline of the project, adequacy of resources for the proposed visits (FBI will fund up to 4K€ in total;  part of the funding will have to be provided by the African host, e.g. : local costs)
  • Prospective orientation to longer term collaborations (official twinning to be considered)

Call general information

This call will be open on January 23rd, 2023 at 09h00 CET and the deadline for submission of proposals is April 30th, 2023 at 23h59 CET.

Results will be published in September 2023.

Projects should start during the first trimester of 2024 and the funding must be used before December 31st, 2024.

Application procedure

Applications will be submitted on the FBI website at the address: https://france-bioimaging.org/application/africa-france-joint-initiative-for-biological-imaging/

We will acknowledge the receipt of all the applications within two weeks.

Projects will have to be written in English or/and in French.

Contact

We have made every effort to provide clear information on the eligibility criteria in the call description. However, we will be happy to answer further questions and help you check the eligibility of your project prior to the submission. For any question, please contact the programme referents at africa-france_jibi@france-bioimaging.org