It gives me a great sense of pleasure to address you on the occasion of this special anniversary, COST’s fiftieth birthday; an outstanding achievement for this unique programme, whose story began at the Ministerial Conference of 22-23 November 1971. On that date, 19 countries signed the General Resolution, in the form of Cooperation Agreement launching the first 7 COST networks. Those countries believed in advancing research and innovation through the seemingly simple act of bringing people together.
The last 50 years have seen incredible levels of innovation and knowledge growth across all areas of science and technology. I doubt that anyone in 1971 could have predicted the world we live in today, the advances we have achieved, the technology at our fingertips. In the same spirit, I doubt that anyone involved at the time could have predicted that the launch of a small programme with only 7 networks would grow into a large community of 291 COST Actions. In the past 50 years, with the involvement of half a million researchers conducting interdisciplinary research, COST has become crucial to the European Research Area as its leading networking instrument.
Although, we officially celebrate 50 years this month, the dream of COST is even older; conceived as a European idea to empower researchers from the European continent to stand as equals on the world stage. Milestone anniversaries deserve pause for reflection, so can we say that we met this expectation? Yes, undoubtedly. The power of bringing people together, to exchange ideas, to grow networks has created a pan-European landscape of science without borders, of unleashed potential. Bridges have been built to link knowledge, ensuring minds from all career stages can join together to better our understanding of subjects and solve problems as an interconnected research community. COST Actions empower thousands of researchers, through leadership positions, training activities and opportunities to connect with stakeholders and policy makers. 88% of researchers participating in COST Actions indicate that participation has led to career advancement. Moreover, 95% of researchers participating in COST Actions would recommend their colleagues to join a COST Action. These are numbers of which we are very proud.
Previously, I mentioned that COST advances research and innovation through the seemingly simple act of bringing people together. There is strength in this simplicity, it is where we find the true power of COST; science is about people. It is to them that I would like to dedicate this message. The growth and success of the COST programme is truly a testament to their dedication, to their ingenuity, to their passion, to half a century of their hard work and ideas. It is through them that the impact of COST Actions now stretch across the globe, in fact it is often said that the COST network resembles a small world. Of that, we should all be proud.
COST has always been a story of potential, of connectivity, of success. When you take an idea and let it grow, it exceeds all expectations.
by President of the COST Association, Prof. Alain Beretz
Here’s to another 50 years!
Visit the special edition 50 years website
View the COST timeline