Expanding R&I Collaboration and Digital Connectivity between the EU and LAC

The longstanding tradition of collaboration between the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) regions on digital transformation and R&I has taken a significant leap forward with the SPIDER project.

Under the “Innovate Together: EU-LAC Digital Partnership” theme, SPIDER stands out by actively unleashing the power of the BELLA network and bridging the gap between EU–LAC digital dialogue commitments and their practical implementation.

However, what do all of these efforts translate into?

The BELLA Network

At the core of SPIDER stands the BELLA network that includes a remarkable infrastructure initially focused on building a submarine fiber-optic cable connecting Lisbon (Portugal) with Fortaleza (Brazil) and establishing terrestrial connections with various countries in the LAC region. However, building on this foundation, this programme evolved and now focuses on extending the digital ecosystem, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean. 

Despite the high-capacity data connections between the EU and LAC, the full potential of the BELLA network has not yet been fully exploited, delaying the benefits of this initiative. Thus, SPIDER was designed to support the exploitation of the full potential of the BELLA network to expand its impact and ensure that its goals are successfully achieved.

Bridging Commitments and Action

Several digital dialogues between the EU and LAC have taken place over the last few years to strengthen research and innovation (R&I) cooperation and digital transformation in both regions, yet a significant gap persists between the commitments of those dialogues and their implementation. Bridging this gap is crucial for the successful EU-LAC cooperation on digital transformation, and SPIDER will reinforce the practical implementation of these agreements.

Subsequently, the project’s core actions include the launch of the EU-LAC Digital Dialogues Implementation Forum (DIF). This pioneering, multi-stakeholder platform is designed to foster dialogues, promote policy debate, and facilitate the implementation of R&I commitments from EU-LAC digital dialogues.

SPIDER aligns with the EU’s strategy to locate digital cooperation at the core of its relationship with LAC while aiming to foster economic growth and inclusion through technologies such as AI, 5G, Blockchain, Cloud Computing, High Performance Computing, Cybersecurity and Virtual Research Environments (VRE), among others.

The Strategic Vision of SPIDER

SPIDER, a project funded by the European Union, emerges as a transformative project to ensure the full exploitation of the BELLA network and bridge the gap between the commitments from digital dialogues and their practical implementation. 

Launched on November 2023, SPIDER is a 30-month project with a result-oriented focus that seeks to produce a roadmap for digital transformation, serving as a reference for policymakers and providing input for future strategic roadmaps on EU-LAC cooperation in digital transformation and R&I. SPIDER’s roadmap aims to guide the expansion of the LAC digital ecosystem to new countries, ensuring an inclusive impact.

To achieve these objectives, the SPIDER consortium brings together a multidisciplinary team of prominent organizations from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, and Costa Rica, each contributing their expertise in digital transformation and international cooperation in R&I.

SPIDER is a step forward to developing a future where digital connections have no boundaries, and innovation propels positive change. At the core of the vision that SPIDER supports lies a strong emphasis on a human-centered and participatory approach, ensuring that technology development aligns with diversity, equality, and inclusion principles.

Summing up, SPIDER is a catalyst for turning EU-LAC dialogues´ commitments into tangible outcomes, laying the foundation for a digital world centered around people where technology enhances lives while upholding equality and inclusion, respecting the environment, and ensuring sustainability.

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