2nd Joint Call: NEWTONIAN

The Asian liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini is intensively transmitted in Southeast Asia (SEA), particularly Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia. The helminth adult worm lives in human bile ducts of the liver where it causes a multitude of severe pathologies including cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a fatal bile duct cancer.
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The Asian liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini is intensively transmitted in Southeast Asia (SEA), particularly Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia. The helminth adult worm lives in human bile ducts of the liver where it causes a multitude of severe pathologies including cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a fatal bile duct cancer. While in Northeast Thailand research on control tools and public health interventions have much advanced over the past decades, progress made in research and disease control is limited in Lao PDR and Cambodia and the interventions are rather temporary and focal.

There are major challenges for the successful control of O. viverrini infection and related morbidity. Firstly, the currently widely available diagnostic techniques (e.g. Kato-Katz) have a low sensitivity. Secondly, the extent of morbidity (disease) associated with the O. viverrini infection is unknown in many O. viverrini endemic settings. Thirdly, given the lack of adequate regional estimations of O. viverrini infection and the related mortality and morbidity, the currently employed level of control initiatives cannot be adequate planned.


The Project

Our project consortium, consisting of four institutions in Switzerland, Thailand, Lao PDR and Cambodia, each having several decades of experience in Asian liver fluke research and control, aims to develop new tools to control of O. viverrini infection and associated morbidity and mortality in SEA region. Our objectives are (i) to regionally validate a promising rapid diagnostic tests for O. viverrini infection in field sites in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand; (ii) to compile existing data on O. viverrini infection and associated mortality and morbidity in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand and complement them with additional survey data in areas where only sparse information is available; and (iii) to predict the risk of O. viverrini infection and related mortality and morbidity across Southeast Asia.


The Science

This transnational project will lead into a SEA regional view of O. viverrini infection and related morbidity and mortality. For objective (i), a field validation of the urine based detection of circulating O. viverrini will be performed. Two promising tests will be validated: A urine- and a corpro-antigen based diagnostic test, which have a documented high potential for further development. The validation will take into account the different levels of endemicity of O. viverrini infection, and the helminthic co-infections. It will be performed in settings in Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia. For objective (ii) an database will be created where existing geo-localized data on O. viverrini infection and associated morbidity will be combined with newly surveyed data. A systematic review of published literature on O. viverrini infection, and related morbidity and mortality will be conducted to achieve a most comprehensive database. For objective (iii), the database will be used for the prediction of O. viverrini infection, morbidity and mortality in area where no data is available and across all three endemic countries by using a well-established Bayesian geo-statistical modelling approach.


The Team

Prof Penelope Vounatsou and Prof Peter Odermatt, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

Dr. Somphou Sayasone, Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute, Ministry of Health, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Dr. Virak Khieu, National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, Ministry of Health, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Professor Paiboon Sithithaworn, Parasitology Department and Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute, Khon Kaen University (KKU), Khon Kaen, Thailand



Professor Peter Odermatt, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Epidemiology and Public Health Department, PO Box, 4002 Basel, Switzerland, Email:


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2nd Joint Call: BIOPLATE

The metallization of plastics, called Plating On Plastics (POP) for decorative and functional applications is an integral part of many branches of industry. In the automotive industry, for example, in car interiors, for sanitary fittings, for shielding electronic devices or in consumer goods industry for control elements on household appliances.
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The metallization of plastics, called Plating On Plastics (POP) for decorative and functional applications is an integral part of many branches of industry. In the automotive industry, for example, in car interiors, for sanitary fittings, for shielding electronic devices or in consumer goods industry for control elements on household appliances. Electroplating usually refers to plating of metallic surfaces, and requires electric conductivity of the substrate, while the adhesion between layer and substrate is achieved by metal-metal bonds. These both aspects are not observed in POP as plastic is used. Therefore, POP processes rely on very special mechanism and pretreatment procedures. Furthermore, it is not possible to use any type of plastic for metallization in order to produce adhesive layers. Usually, POP products are based on acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene – polycarbonate (ABS/PC) blend substrates. Modern societies will change into a reduced or neutral carbon footprint way of living. This means not only the use of renewable energies; it means the use of renewable resources in general – including materials. The currently available bioplastics cannot be electroplated with the existing processes and development work has to be carried out. The important thing is that the biopolymer and the electrochemical processes are developed together.

The Project

The aim of the joint research project is an optimised electroplating process for tailor-made biopolymer materials. Biopolymers from renewable raw materials will be used in the field of "Plating On Plastic" (POP) to replace non-biodegradable and oil-based materials. From this point of view, the project will have a beneficial impact for the societal change from “oil-based to green” by the intermediate of more sustainable consumable goods, packaging and vehicles.

The Science

The research to reach the targets goes deep into material science and needs competences in different disciplines of material science as well as in biotechnology and chemistry. The multidisciplinary of the project is best seen in his dual approach of improving the process of metal deposition on plastic from two perspectives: the design, synthesis and surface preparation of a suitable biopolymer from renewable resources and the optimization of the deposition procedures and conditions. This demands on the one side knowledge on design and conducting bioprocesses for a target product and on the other hand, the know-how related to developing electroplating process chains.

Two research lines are proposed regarding the design of the polymer. First, a bio-based polymer or blend having a biphasic structure, similarly to ABS, will be targeted together with a standard electroplating process but involving a suitable non-CMR etching agent like sulfuric acid. A second approach utilizes the difference between the first and second crystallization rates observed for some PHA polymers. The surface pretreatment and the electroplating process must be tailored to the biopolymers.

The Team

The BIOPLATE partners are:


Contact: Dr.- Ing. Martin Metzner


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1st Joint Call: FRESHBIO

This project will study the diversity, biological states and uses of freshwater biotas in the insular biodiversity hotspots of Southeast Asia. It is funded under the 1st Call of the Southeast Asia - Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation.
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Around the world, natural ecosystems are being put under increasing pressure by mankind. Maintaining high levels of biodiversity is vital to ensuring the continuing sustainability of ecosystems, and areas at particular risk are identified as ‘biodiversity hotspots’. There are three such insular hotspots in Southeast Asia, which are among the most endangered in the world.

However, there is a lack of consistent recording of animal and plant life within these ecosystems, which hampers conservation efforts. This lack of accurate and reliable databases in Southeast Asia, limits research on ecology and global climate change. Such research is becoming increasingly important as greater areas and populations begin to experience the effects of climate change – particularly those whose livelihoods depend on wildlife.

To get a clearer picture of the state of freshwater biotas in insular hotspots in Southeast Asia, urgent steps must be taken. Firstly, DNA-based methods of species inventory are needed to speed up the inventory of biodiversity, and accurate biodiversity mapping is urgently needed to guide conservation strategies.

For this work to take place, capacity building on wildlife forensics is needed to promote new and sustainable practices for species identification, while local populations living in these areas will also need guidance to adapt to the potential effects of biodiversity loss.

The project

The FRESHBIO project aims to address all of these issues through the following steps. Firstly, the team will support DNA barcoding campaigns to build-up reference libraries for automated species identification and its application in environmental DNA barcoding. They will then explore historical trends in population demography and species aggregation in ecological communities to address the state of aquatic biotas (expansion vs. contraction), and estimate the impact of land conversion on diversity patterns through a geographic information system approach. Finally, the project will explore the dynamics of adaptation and resilience of human populations to environmental changes.

The Science

Three main hypotheses are underpinning FRESHBIO: (1) DNA barcoding is an effective paradigm to document biodiversity as it is effective whatever the life stages, spectacular levels of cryptic diversity are often reported and libraries are publicly available. (2) Pleistocene climatic fluctuations predict diversity patterns. Emerged land in Sundaland represents only 50-75% of its maximal Pleistocene surface and its biotas are currently in a refugial state. By contrast, the Wallacea and Philippines hotspots have been continuously isolated from the main land during PCF. (3) Wildlife dependent peoples are sentinels of environmental changes. Resilience and adaptive responses of local fisherfolk to disturbed aquatic ecosystems may be assessed through the peoples’ capacity to anticipate ongoing changes. If addressed through time, people adaptive strategies might be indicative of early ecosystemic changes.

The FRESHBIO partners are:

Dr. Hendrik FREITAG: Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU)

Dr. Daisy WOWOR: Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI)

Dr. Nicolas HUBERT: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), France Sud

Dr. Thomas von RINTELEN: Museum für Naturkunde (MfN)

Dr. Philippe KEITH: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN)

Dr. Edmond DOUNIAS: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Indonésie


Nicolas Hubert:


1st Joint Call: SKUD

This project studies the emergence of Skin Ulceration Diseases in Edible Sea Cucumbers in a Global Change Framework. It is funded under the 1st Call of the Southeast Asia - Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation
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Sea cucumbers are a delicacy across South and East Asia, yet with increasing market pressure and the effects of climate change, numbers are reducing at an alarming rate, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. Sea cucumber fisheries are in a worse state than most fisheries globally.

Over the past 2 decades, the production a particular breed of edible sea cucumber, Holothuria scabra, has ensured sufficient production and made its aquaculture profitable. However, it is thought that increasing water temperatures and ocean acidification could be causing an increase in skin ulceration diseases in sea cucumbers. Such diseases could seriously affect their production, affecting not only the animals, but also the local economies which depend upon their growth and sale. 

The project

The SKUD project aims to study the emergence of diseases, especially SKUDs, in edible sea cucumbers outside Madagascar, especially in Thailand and France, within a global change framework.

The team aim to firstly make a survey of parasites and diseases of two edible sea cucumbers (Holothuria forskali in France and Holothuria scabra in Thailand, and will then determine the cause(s) of SKUDs on these species. With this information, the team will then assess the effects of increased temperature and decreased pH, at values commensurate with predicted global changes, on SKUD prevalence and development.

The Science

The SKUDs that are emerging diseases in new aquacultures will be characterized for the first time by adequate “high tech” methods including metagenomic analyses and the originality of the researches as well as the strength of the involved teams insures the diffusion of the results through international publications. The assessment of the possible impact of global change stressors on SKUD diseases will help forecasting and preventing their exacerbation in aquaculture conditions. The cost of possible mitigations through manipulation of temperature and/of pH in aquaculture basins can then be assessed.

Commercially, the understanding of sea cucumber diseases is of the utmost importance as these fisheries expand worldwide with a Chinese market pressure of increasing affluence. Sea cucumbers have attracted much interest in export-oriented fisheries in at least 70 countries. Collecting sea cucumbers for production of ‘‘bêche-de-mer’’ or ‘‘trepang’’ (the dried body wall) and export to the Asian dried seafood market has a long history in the productive waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The majority (66%) of sea cucumber fisheries involved small-scale fishing operations for export. The Team:

The SKUD partners are:

Igor EECKHAUT/ University of Mons (Belgium)

Anchana PRATHEP / Prince of Songkla University (Thailand)

Philippe DUBOIS / Free University of Brussels (Belgium)

Nadia AMEZIANE / Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Station de Biologie Marine de Concarneau (France)


Igor Eeckhaut:

Climate Resistant Rice

1st Joint Call: 'Climate-Resilient Rice' in Thailand and Laos

This project aims to strengthen rice breeding programs in Laos and Thailand and develop climate-resilient rice varieties. It is funded under the 1st Call of the SEA-Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation.
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The project:

Rice is a staple food for more than half of the world’s population, and one of the major crops for both consumption and as a commodity in Southeast Asia. However, it is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and increased temperatures worldwide are predicted to cause reduced crop yields in the future.  

To counteract this, the Climate-ResilientRice project (CRR) aims to strengthen rice breeding programs in Thailand and Laos, so that crops will be able to withstand the effects of climate change, and even enhance production under adverse conditions.

CRR has been funded through the 1st Call of the Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme for for Research and Innovation (JFS) and brings together a team from both regions to tackle this pressing issue.

The Science:

The project will use a varietal improvement process based on the most advanced knowledge of traits which are affected by climate change, such as  high temperatures (that cause yield losses due to rice flowers’ sterility), and use proven methods of marker-assisted selection on a state of the art breeding data-management system.

It will also make use of complementary experimental facilities, including field and greenhouse phenotyping facilities in NAFRI/BIOTEC, respectively, growth chamber facility mimicking high temperature at CIRAD, and molecular marker lab at BIOTEC.

The Team:

The CRR project partners are:

  • Rice Gene Discovery Unit, BIOTEC, NSTDA, Pathumthani, Thailand; (Project Coordinator)
  • Agriculture Research Center (ARC),National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Vientianne, Laos ;
  • French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Montpellier, France;


Jonaliza L. Siangliw:


1st Joint Call: RESCuE

The project will undertake monitoring and restoration for sustainable coastal ecosystems. It was funded under the 1st Call of the Southeast Asia - Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation.
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The Project:

Mangroves are forests that grow along saline coastal areas with tropical and subtropical climates, and are a crucial part of the natural ecosystem throughout Southeast Asia. They are an indispensable natural resource; mangroves not only act as ‘nurseries’ for marine species and huge carbon storage areas, but they also protect coastal areas from erosion, storms and tsunamis.

Unfortunately, mangroves have come under significant threat from industrial practices, such as shrimp farming and logging, as well as pollutants, chemicals and temperature stress. In Thailand, mangroves have been reduced by almost 50% over the past 4 decades,

The RESCuE project will work to mitigate mangrove forest loss and degradation in Thailand and Vietnam. It will do this by developing databases to understand, conserve and rehabilitate mangrove areas. The team will then work with local communities to identify areas which are suitable for replanting mangroves, and hold trainings and workshops for local practitioners to ensure that the coastal ecosystem management in Thailand and Mekong delta of Vietnam remain sustainable in the future.

The Science

The project will undertake the following activities:

  • Developing suitable decision-making tools for mapping and monitoring distribution of mangrove communities and cover loss in the conservation zone using satellite and ground survey data:
  • Estimating the mangrove community aboveground carbon stock and its dynamics
  • Providing decision support tools for the design of rehabilitation measures
  • Developing site-specific recommendations for rehabilitation projects to policy makers
  • To recommend the suitable model for ecosystem services in the coastal areas
  • Strengthening the capacity of local forest practitioners and disseminating knowledge of local communities via short training and meetings

The Team:

The RESCuE partners are:


Prof. Valery Gond  (


1st Joint Call: CWSSEA

This project will studying the effects of climatic water stress on mature and secondary forests in Southeast Asia. It was funded under the 1st Call of the SEA-Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Science and Innovation.
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Forests are the carbon banks of the world, playing a vital role in absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and ensuring that ecosystems and soil are enriched and productive.  

However, the forests of many Southeast Asian countries, including in Thailand, have undergone significant deforestation in recent decades, while the effects of climate change also mean that incidents of climatic water stress - such as droughts and rising temperatures – will become more frequent and severe in the future.

This double threat could lead to rising mortality in the tropical monsoon forests of Southeast Asia. This would mean lower biodiversity, worsening climate change, and damage to entire ecosystems, resulting in real-life effects on human well-being.

The Project:

The CWSSEA (Climatic Water Stress – Southeast Asia) project will study the functioning of tropical forests, particularly secondary forests in Thailand, and assess how they will respond to climatic water stress and the potential impacts of future climate scenarios in these ecosystems.

This information will then assist in creating model predictions on the long-term scenarios of climate change impacts on forest ecosystem services, and influence future global policies to combat climate change.

The Science:

The researchers will measure canopy transpiration, which is frequently used to estimate canopy stomatal conductance; a central variable in modeling the uptake of carbon by forests. Measurements will be made in both mature and secondary forests, which in turn will allow for the investigation of species-specific responses to water stress by assessing tree hydraulics and drought vulnerability of the dominant species in each forest type.

The team will also explore the degree of soil water partitioning among species within each forest to provide a more mechanistic understanding of how individual trees are able to overcome drought stress.

Taken together, this will be one of the first studies to quantify canopy transpiration, tree hydraulics and drought vulnerability as well as the mechanisms dominant tree species in both mature and secondary tropical forests use to overcome drought stress, which will provide the necessary information to more accurately predict how climate change will affect the carbon and water cycle in tropical forests.

The Team:

The CWSSEA partners are:


Pantana Tor-ngern:

H2020 Naypyidaw

EU delegation presents opportunities for collaboration at 17th ASEAN STI Meeting

Horizon 2020 and Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme presented to ASEAN STI ministries in Naypyidaw, Myanmar
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A delegation of EU representatives presented the many opportunities available for increasing collaboration between Southeast Asian and European researchers at the 17th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on 19th October 2017.

The delegation, led by Konstantinos Glinos of the European Commission, highlighted the similarities between the ASEAN Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI) and EU STI policy objectives, and presented the many avenues for collaboration open to researchers, including Horizon 2020, information services offered by EURAXESS, and opportunities for jointly funded SEA-EU projects through the Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme (JFS).

The delegation announced the upcoming calls for Horizon 2020 funding (the new Work Programme 2018-2020 was published on October 29 – visit this link), and presented the preliminary outcomes of the 1st call of the Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme (JFS) which had taken place on 16-17 October in Bangkok, Thailand.

In addition to this, a number of side events took place to further promote SEA-EU collaboration in science, technology and innovation. During the Ministerial Meeting, the delegation engaged in a number of bilateral discussions with Thai and Vietnamese funding agencies, while a European Union booth at the ASEAN STI week promoted all of the mentioned opportunities to interested researchers. The JFS Secretariat also held a side-event on the 20 October for representatives of ASEAN funding agencies which would be interested in participating in future JFS calls.

The JFS Scientific Council in Bangkok

SEA-EU Joint Funding Scheme holds successful funding decision meeting in Bangkok

First JFS Joint Call results in securing commitments to fund 10 projects
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The first Joint Call of the Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme (JFS) for research and innovation has succeeded in securing commitments to fund 10 projects, which will bring together research teams from both regions to tackle some of the most pressing issues faced today in the fields of health and climate change. 

The meetings of the JFS Scientific Committee and Programme Steering Committee were held in Bangkok, Thailand, on the 16 and 17 October respectively, and were attended by representatives from many research funding agencies from across South East Asia and Europe.The meetings were hosted by the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) Thailand and the  Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS).

In this first call, two areas of research were selected for funding; firstly projects related to health, focusing specifically on anti-microbial drug resistance and emerging infectious diseases, and secondly, on projects relating to the environment and climate change which have a specific focus on adaptation / resilience of food production systems, and the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity.

The successful proposals were announced in December, and are expected to start in the early months of 2018. Given the considerable success of the 1st Call, the JFS Secretariat received unanimous support from those present to hold a 2nd Call in 2018. It is hoped that this continuation will attract even more participating countries and funding agencies from both regions to fund many more joint projects in the future.


TEDx: Innovations from Europe and Vietnam

Speakers from Europe and Vietnam share ideas concerning both 'Urban Innovations' and 'Health Innovations'
Event Date:
Posted on 28. Sep. 2017
Location / Venue
Lotte Hotel Hanoi

Promoting ground-breaking urban and health innovations is the aim of an inspiring event, based on the TED concept, that will take place in Hanoi on Friday 20 May 2016 (14h00-17h30). The Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam and the Embassy of the Netherlands – with support of TEDx Community of Hanoi – welcome you to attend this event, where business leaders, policy makers, researchers and students will discuss innovative solutions. Be part of ʻTEDx Innovations from Europe and Vietnamʼ – to learn, to question, to connect and to be inspired!

Register (until 12 May, 18:00) to get one of the 200 free tickets: