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BRICS Flagship Innovation Collaboration Projects on the Horizon

On the evening of June 23, Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired the 14th BRICS Summit and deliver an important speech titled “Fostering High-quality Partnership and Embarking on a New Journey of BRICS Cooperation”. On BRICS innovation collaboration, President Xi Jinping pointed out that we need to uphold the pioneering spirit and innovation and unleash the potential and vitality of cooperation; we have accelerated the building of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution Innovation Center, reached the Digital Economy Partnership Framework, and issued the Initiative for Cooperation on Digitalization of Manufacturing. The XIV BRICS Summit Beijing Declaration was adopted and released at the event.


The Beijing Declaration emphasizes the commitment to strengthening intra-BRICS cooperation to intensify the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) and collectively create new development opportunities, the acknowledgment of the progress of BRICS cooperation on Science and Technology Innovation (STI), including outcomes of BRICS STI Steering Committee, inter alia, on the advancement of flagship projects initiative aiming to find effective STI solutions to global challenges, the encouragement of further work on proposals regarding the polycentric BRICS Technology Transfer Center Network, iBRICS Network, joint research projects including flagship projects, BRICS Young Scientist Forum and Young Innovation Prize. The Beijing Declaration also emphasizes the progress of cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).


The concept of BRICS Innovation Collaboration Flagship Project was firstly proposed in 2017 during the 1st Meeting of BRICS Working Group on ICT and High Performance Computing (HPC) in Guangzhou, China, sponsored by the Department of International Collaboration, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China, co-chaired by Professor YUAN Xue-Feng of Guangzhou University and Dr Bernie Fanaroff from South Africa. It aims at addressing grand challenging problems with the global impacts and creating an ecosystem for the BRICS nations to work together for advancing the position and impact of the BRICS nations in the world by increasing their competitiveness in the areas of ICT, AI, machine learning, HPC and those closely related. The members of the Working Group have also proposed possible Flagship Projects and discussed in every annual working group up to the 6th meeting held successfully on the 22nd -23rd of June 2022. 


One of the main outcomes of the 6th Working Group meeting is an agreement that the concepts of three flagship projects will be presented in a unified fashion led by Prof YUAN Xue-Feng on “AI+HPC+5G” based Digital Twins Innovation Platform and Open-source ecosystem for Smart Manufacturing and Integrated Precision Farming, and by Prof. Victor Stepanenko on Digital Earth Modelling and by Prof LI Weizhong on Bioinformatic and Digital Organs for Fighting COVID-19 and Other Diseases, respectively, in BRICS STI Funding Working Group meeting scheduled on the 27th – 28th of June, 2022. The first Flagship Project aims to strengthen the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution by building ICT and HPC infrastructure for Innovation Collaboration and accelerating the digital transformation of economy; to develop a General Robot Operating System to support research on human–machine self-adaptive collaboration in complex working environment as well as a wide range of applications in Industrial Internet of Things; to develop a Digital Twins Innovation Platform as a part of BRICS Innovation Cooperation Cloud by integrating the emerging technologies; to establish an open-source software and hardware ecosystem in the areas of smart mining industries and integrated precision farming. The Flagship Project on Digital Earth Modelling aims to develop HPC+AI tools and products needed by local communities and stakeholders for dealing with extreme weather conditions and climate changes and early warning systems. The Flagship project on Bioinformatic and Digital Organs aims to develop novel digital health technologies and infrastructures to promote medicine research and clinical applications using HPC and AI technologies.


As the effort of the Working Group is formally acknowledged in the Beijing Declaration, all the participants of the above meetings believe that the timely initiating of BRICS Flagship Projects is on the horizon. It will greatly facilitate innovation collaboration among the BRICS countries, and eventually have massive positive effects on the digital transformation of economy and on the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN) in 2030.


In the end, the participants expressed their desire of seeing each other in person during the 7th Working Group Meeting in May 2023 in China.