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Updated daily at www.ResearchResearch.com Flagship EU projects come under fire – p2, 4, 5 2 April

Updated daily at www.ResearchResearch.com

Flagship EU projects come under fire – p2, 4, 5

2 April 2015

ERA Science needs diversity – p6

  • Germany How R&D subsidies kept the country afloat – p8

Horizon 2020 falls short on global participation

Commission urged to support involvement of non-EU countries

The european Commission has failed to promote non- EU involvement in Horizon 2020 and must devise a clear plan to prevent a further decline in participation, advisers and participants have said. In 2012, the Commission announced that it would no longer automatically fund the participation of coun- tries including the BRICs—Brazil, Russia, India and China—and instead expects them to pay their own way unless the collaboration is “strategically important” to EU research performance. But the plan appears to have backfired as interna- tional participation has dipped well below the 5 per cent level recorded between 2007 and 2013. Alan Cross, the deputy head of Horizon 2020 policy in the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, told a research management event in Brussels on 10 March that preliminary figures from the first year of Horizon 2020 showed a 40 per cent decrease in non-EU partici- pation, compared with Framework 7. The Commission has previously pledged to increase international involvement in Horizon 2020—and any decline will have serious consequences for the pro - gramme’s success as research becomes increasingly globalised. Commission advisers and national rep - resentatives say the Commission urgently needs to re-evaluate its measures and reverse the trend. “The strong links and relations with countries devel- oped in the past need to be built on, not broken down,” says Katherine Isaacs, the head of European pro - grammes and an adviser on international cooperation at the University of Pisa in Italy. “It’s a terrible waste.” Dan Andrée, the chairman of the EU’s Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation, says the Commission should extend its list of priority topics for which the BRIC countries can receive funding. Meanwhile, the drop in participation from Russia is likely to be a result of political issues as well as a loss of funding, he says—meaning the Commission could also consider steps to mitigate the effects of foreign policy on scientific cooperation. According to Manfred Horvat, the chairman of the Commission’s advisory group on international coop -

by Jenny Maukola


eration in Horizon 2020, the Commission should focus on translating its strategic aims into concrete details in the 2016-17 work programmes. As it stands, there is not much information on how its international strat- egy will be implemented, he says, and the Commission must guarantee “the right instruments, actions and research proposals” to help participants. The Commission has advised the BRIC countries to set up specific funds to finance their participa - tion. But countries with a change in funding status are not the only ones struggling to access the pro - gramme. Moon Jung Kang, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in Brussels, says the Commission should increase its use of soft approaches, including networking and support servic- es. Between 2008 and 2013, South Korea participated in four EU capacity-building programmes, but these were all project-based initiatives. “It’s a pity that all the joint calls, communication channels and help - desks have to be stopped after each project,” she says. Andrée says the Commission is considering setting up a support facility for non-EU members who want to take part in the 2016-17 work programmes. And at a ScienceBusiness event in Brussels on 24 March, Kostas Glinos, the head of strategy for international cooperation at DG Research, said the Commission was seeking additional mechanisms to set up joint pro - jects with China and the United States. However, a Commission spokeswoman said that no details will be available until the results of the first annual review of Horizon 2020, due before June, are confirmed. The message from advisers is that, whatever strategy the Commission

opts for, it needs to be communicated clearly and with accompanying prac- tical details—or people will perceive that the Commission is not fully com- mitted to the issue. “There has to be a clear message from the top that this is being taken seriously,” says Horvat.

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Research Europe, 2 April 2015

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Little and large

We need value for money from projects of all sizes

Last week, the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee criticised the accounting of several flagship European research projects— including the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and Iter, the experimental fusion reactor—asking for more detail before approving their budgets. The rejection was symbolic: the projects aren’t going to be cancelled or curtailed. But it still represents a vote of no confidence in the manage- ment of large projects under Horizon 2020. In this issue, we report on this problem and the woes of other major projects. An investigation by Der Spiegel and media partners has ques- tioned the use of public funds at the IMI (see News, page 5). And a report into the orientation of the €1-billion Human Brain Project has unearthed problems with finances and scientific direction (see News, page 4). It is much easier to run small projects: the European Research Council, for example, has dispatched billions of euros in grants with little fuss since its foundation in 2007. There is recognition that some will fail, and that’s fine. Even mid-sized Framework projects, worth a few million euros each, raise relatively few management headaches for the Commission. But political leaders want a bang for their buck. With Horizon 2020 costing some $80bn, they expect to see visible outcomes, particularly in the shape of industrial innovation—and the IMI is a good example of an instrument designed to make that happen. This sort of action used to involve direct public subsidies for commercial R&D, but these are now prohibited by international trade agreements. However, private partners can still be in the driving seat, as the Spiegel investigation shows. Few in Brussels will be upset by that. The trouble starts when auditors (or journalists) look more closely at such partnerships, and follow the money. In these projects, companies contribute in kind rather than in cash. What they get back is public funding for (mainly) university-based researchers who work alongside them. The question not yet answered in the case of the IMI is: do the companies tell the truth about their in-kind contributions? Or are their employees just doing what they’d be doing anyway, and billing their time as project contributions? For the Human Brain Project, most of the funding is public. But is the project being governed fairly, and money allocated shrewdly? A media- tion panel has suggested several changes to strengthen its governance. These issues all reflect the fact that there is no Commission apparatus for the detailed oversight of large research projects. If they fell under the auspices of, say, the European Space Agency, they would be subject to rigorous, technical supervision by experienced engineers and scientists, whose agenda would be assuring value for public money. The Commission has, understandably, never taken this approach. Such oversight has plenty of potential for conflict, waste and inertia. Instead, we have the Court of Auditors, whose non-specialist account- ants do their utmost to probe EU projects for value. The Court’s reports are thorough, and sometimes highly critical. But are they sufficient, and are their findings followed up? On both counts, we remain to be convinced.


“I am sure there will be some people in Brussels who will breathe a sigh of relief if I’m not here.”

At a European Council press conference, UK prime minister David Cameron acknowledges that there is widespread frustration at his plan to renegotiate the UK’s membership if he is re-elected in May. EurActiv, 20/3/15.

“I was a bit puzzled when opinion-makers started saying that the money had been lost. That isn’t the case.”

Research commissioner Carlos Moedas reit- erates his claim that using Horizon 2020 funds for the European Fund for Strategic Investments will provide more money for science overall by stimulating private invest- ment. Nature, 23/3/15.

“We want Greece to be strong economi- cally, we want Greece to grow and above

all we want Greece to overcome its high unemployment.” German chancellor Angela Merkel promises that there is still an appetite for cooperation with Greece, despite disagreement over the country’s efforts to renegotiate its bailout. European Voice, 23/3/15.

“Most people think that an illness like TB only exists in less affluent parts of the planet, yet it exists on our own doorstep.”

With drug-resistant tuberculosis on the rise across the EU, the Latvian council presi- dency’s focus on eliminating the disease has come at the right time, says Giovanni Battista Migliori, the secretary-general of the European Respiratory Society. The Parliament magazine, 27/3/15.

“It will continue to be a ‘best practice’ model for other humanities projects…not only in data integration, management and retrieval, but also as outreach to society.”

Robert-Jan Smits, the director-general of DG Research, says the EU will continue to support the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure through Horizon 2020, to col- lect information on the Holocaust and second world war. Horizon 2020 projects, 26/3/15.


“The main question that industry is asking now is:

What is in it for me?”

Patrick Maio, the coordinator of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technology Platform, says there is some trepidation among industrial partners about the formation of Joint Technology Initiatives to be funded through Framework 7.

Research Europe, 7 April 2005

Research Europe, 2 April 2015



Madrid biotech chief quits

what’s going on

The director of the National Centre for Biotechnology in Madrid has stepped down, complaining to her 600 staff about bureaucratic obstacles to funding projects and hiring employees. In an email seen by Research Europe and sent to the centre’s staff on 25 March, Carmen Castresana announced her resignation and claimed that the CSIC, the national research centre to which the biotech centre is affiliated, had blocked the recruitment of three researchers she wanted to hire.

SKA at risk, says Italy’s leading astrophysicist

The Square Kilometre Array telescope project would collapse if any of the remaining national partners were to back out, according to Giovanni Bignami, the president of Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics. Following the announcement that Germany is to pull out of the collaboration in June, the withdrawal of support by any other country would lead to a “domino effect” resulting in insufficient funding for the project to remain viable, he says.

Council to oppose data protection amendments

The justice ministers of the EU have agreed a position on the draft Data Protection Directive, rejecting some amendments passed by the European Parliament to restrict the collection and sharing of personal data for research purposes. Science lobby groups have opposed many of the amendments, saying they would restrict scientists’ access and hinder medical research.

Commission seeks Horizon 2020 feedback

The European Commission has asked researchers and industry for their opinions on the implementation of Horizon 2020. As part of an online survey, the Commission asks for input on

how effective the simplification of Horizon 2020 has been, and for feedback on the progress of

the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme for researcher exchange and the public-private

and public-public partnerships launched under Horizon 2020.

EU programmes’ accounting criticised

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology, and several other major EU programmes including the fusion reactor Iter and the Innovative Medicines Initiative, need to do more to account for their costs, MEPs have said. On 23 March, the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee said that the institutions would need to demonstrate that they spent EU funds for 2013 properly before the Parliament will approve their accounts.

MEPs chide Council over transparency

Members of the European Parliament have called on the Council of Ministers to stop hampering efforts to open up EU negotiations to more public scrutiny. In a hearing on 26 March, held jointly by the committees for budgetary control, legal affairs, civil liberties and justice, MEPs suggested the possibility of a new code of conduct for the Council.

Universities back San Francisco declaration

The League of European Research Universities has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, which challenges the use of journal impact factors as the primary means for evaluating research. In an announcement on 16 March, Leru said it agreed with the declaration that qualitative assessment measures—such as peer review—were needed alongside quantitative metrics—such as citation rates—to determine the quality of an article.



Research Europe, 2 April 2015


More problems for brain project

Money trouble looks set to compound the Human Brain Project’s problems, a probe into the €1-billion EU initia- tive has revealed. A mediation report on the project to model the human brain was requested by the European Commission and published on 19 March. It was intended to quell the controversy that emerged last July when a group of cog- nitive neuroscientists publicly denounced the focus and direction of the HBP. But the report says that, as well as questions about its scientific goals, the project faces mounting finan - cial pressure from three different directions: reduced EU funding, widening scientific goals, and a reluctance from national agencies to be project partners. “The project doesn’t have the funds to cover all its goals,” says Andreas Herz, a computational neuroscien- tist at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a member of the mediation committee. “The directors will probably have to make difficult and harsh decisions.” According to the report, the Commission has, in recent months, quietly reduced the annual HBP budget by 15 per cent, mainly as a result of expanding its dura- tion from 10 to 11 years while maintaining its total EU core funding at €440 million. The reintegration of cognitive neuroscience, as demanded by project critics and recommended by the mediation committee, will also have an impact on budg- eting. In response to the recommendations, the HBP board has already agreed to create a new cross-cutting element on cognitive neurosciences, which will cost €45m, or 10 per cent of the total budget of the core pro- ject. If, as looks likely, no extra Commission funding is forthcoming, that will mean cutting the budgets of other project elements. The report also points out that partnerships with member states and industry were meant to generate another €560m, in addition to the €440m from Horizon 2020. Only 11 countries participated in a call for partner- ing projects that closed in January, the report says—with Germany, Sweden and the UK among the absentees. Wolfgang Marquardt, an engineer at the Jülich research centre in Germany and chairman of the media- tion committee, says that the call was not given sufficient support by some of the countries whose researchers are most strongly involved in the HBP. “National govern - ments were obviously not willing to contribute,” he says. “If they are not investing, it might be because they don’t believe in this project.” Germany’s absence may reflect the 2011 withdrawal of the Bernstein Network for Computational Neuroscience, an influential group of theoreticians from major German institutions, says Alexandre Pouget, a neuroscientist

by Cristina Gallardo


at the University of Geneva and one of the early critics of the project. “National funders want to see if this pro- gramme is going somewhere,” he says. The report calls for swift action to rebuild trust and ensure funding for the partnering projects before September 2016. It also recommends a contingency plan to achieve the HBP’s goals with “substantially reduced funding”, in case the budget for the partnering projects is not secured before that deadline.

several hBp direCTors have admitted that the funding constraints will force them to revise the project’s plan and formulate shorter-term scientific goals. The HBP, they say, could learn from the scientific programmes of two large brain projects in the United States: MindScope, run by the Seattle-based Allen Institute, and the fed - eral government’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative. Other researchers involved in the project are reluctant to narrow its scientific goals. Steve Furber, a computer scientist at the University of Manchester and co-director of one of the HBP subprojects, is one of the two members of the mediation committee who did not endorse the report, which he says is overly critical. “Large projects should be driven by a grand vision— not completely unachievable but very challenging,” he says. “You need to be able to see the peak of the moun- tain that you are trying to climb, even if in the time available it is unlikely you will get there.” However, John Womersley, a physicist at the Uni - versity of Oxford, chairman of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures and another member of the mediation committee, says the Commission needs to learn from the mistakes of the HBP when planning future projects. “If the Commission believes that half of the funding will have to come from national sources, then those national decision-makers need to be brought on board much earlier,” he says. Following the publication of the mediation report, the HBP board immediately agreed to implement the recom- mendations. These include the integration of cognitive neurosciences and changes in the project’s governance. It will take on a separate legal status, and an independ- ent board of directors will be set up. A group of prominent external scientists will be asked by the HBP board to produce a detailed plan for implementing the mediators’ recommendations. This approach has been welcomed by some of the project’s critics, who nonetheless warn that the controversy will only die down if the recommendations are fully adopted.

Research Europe, 2 April 2015



Debate over IMI priorities reignites

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has been accused of using EU money to “almost exclusively” ben- efit large pharmaceutical companies. In an investigation published on 9 March, the German news website Spiegel Online says that the idea of linking academia and industry through an EU-funded public- private partnership to speed up drug development was good, but that the results have been “disastrous”. The IMI, launched under Framework 7, was pitched as a way to push public health research that was not yet commercially viable, covering issues such as seizures and tuberculosis. But instead of focusing on areas deemed in need by the World Health Organization, the IMI has instead chosen areas in which industry will enjoy big profits, says Spiegel Online. In some cases, the IMI has funded activities that would have taken place anyway—meaning that EU funds have simply been used to reduce industry costs, the investigation found. It quotes the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations as saying on its website that IMI membership can offer “tremen- dous cost savings, as the IMI projects replicate work that individual companies would have had to do anyway”—an assertion that was later removed by Efpia. The article also cites concerns from 2010, when the League of European Research Universities wrote to the IMI board to say that universities, research institutions and small businesses were not being treated as equal

by Lindsay McKenzie


partners. But the European Commission has failed to act, critics say. “The investigation included some criticisms of the IMI that the Commission and Efpia say have been corrected,” says Helle Aagaard, the EU policy adviser for Médecins Sans Frontières. “However, we still have strong concerns that the research agenda continues to be where industry has an interest in investing its in-kind contributions.” Spiegel Online lists seven criticisms, one of which is that EU institutions have been denied access to financial details of industry contributions to the IMI. One nation- al representative from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative says this is a problem across all such Horizon 2020 initiatives. “I accept that if you want industry involved, you have to give power to industry, but more transparency would avoid the impression of a ‘closed-club’ environment,” says the representative. Ingeborg Gräßle, a German MEP who heads the Committee on Budgetary Control, says there is a “sys- tematic conflict of interest” in JTIs, meaning it is not clear “whether the taxpayer is getting value for money”. However, she acknowledges that the JTI model is strongly supported by the Commission, which could explain why concerns have not been addressed suffi - ciently. “The Parliament will have to take a very close look at public-private partnerships,” says Gräßle.


in brief

ERC applications down in 2014

The European Research Council

received a significantly lower

number of proposals in 2014 than in the previous year, the council’s annual report has said. Its 2014 calls received 8,084 proposals—a 14 per cent decrease from 2013. Proposals for Consolidator Grants—aimed at researchers who have more than seven years of experience since completing their PhD—fell by a hefty 31 per cent, whereas for Starting Grants and Advanced Grants the decreases were 2 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Springer releases tool to find fakes

The publishing company Springer has developed open- source software to discover text that has been generated by a computer. Springer collaborated with a computer science research team at the Joseph Fourier University in France to develop the software, called SciDetect, which scans XML and PDF files submitted for review against a fake-paper database to identify whether text is genuine. According to the software’s authors, fake aca- demic papers created by text-generating software such as SCIgen, Mathgen and Physgen have caused embar -

rassment to the publishing industry and damaged the peer-review process.

Universities call for legal action on Juncker fund

Legal action against the European Fund for Strategic Investments should be considered if the European Commission cuts Horizon 2020 funding to support the EU investment fund, the secretary-general of the League of European Research Universities has said. Kurt Deketelaere said that an assessment by the European Court of Auditors, outlining the potential risks of the investment fund, offered researchers a legal opportu - nity to prevent €2.7 billion in Horizon 2020 money being diverted to the fund.

EU-US deal ‘will not lead to privatised education’

The EU and the United States have issued a joint state- ment insisting that a proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will not require governments to privatise public services such as education, health and social services. The statement follows concern from European universities that any deal could undermine the ability of national and regional governments to retain control over higher education.



Research Europe, 2 April 2015


pär omling

Embracing variety

Pär Omling, the head of the European Science Foundation and a former vice- president of Science Europe, tells Jenny Maukola why the ERA needs diversity.

Since the European Commission presented its concept of a European Research Area—a common market for sci- entific knowledge—in 2000, there have been repeated claims that national governments and funding agencies should be doing far more to make it happen. But according to Pär Omling, a Swedish physicist and member of the board at Science Europe, an association of research organisations and national funding agencies, these claims are sometimes overdone. It’s important, says Omling, to step back a few years and acknowledge that Europe has already made great strides in defining and working towards common goals. “If you look at what was happening a year ago and compare that with today, you might not see great advances. But if you go back 10 or 20 years, a lot has actually happened,” he says. “It’s almost impossible to change Europe overnight; you have to be strategic in set- ting up common goals and spending time on them to get people on board. When you have done that, then things start to happen.” Science Europe was established in 2011 with the main aim of giving national research funders and research-performing organisations more influence over EU research policy. It replaced Eurohorcs—an informal organisation comprising the heads of research fund - ing organisations—and took over the policy aspects of the European Science Foundation, a Strasbourg-based organisation that was created in 1974 to promote co ordination in European science. The architects of Science Europe originally envis - aged that its creation would lead to both Eurohorcs and the ESF closing down. But ESF members voted to keep their organisation going, and its focus switched to non- policy-related activities such as

Pär Omling

* 2014-present Board mem - ber, Science Europe

* 2012-present President, European Science Foundation

* 2012-2014 Vice-president, Science Europe

* 2007-2008


P r e s i d e n t ,

* 2001-2010 Director-general, Swedish research council Vetenskapsrådet

* 1983 Phd in physics, Lund University

research programmes and arrang - ing peer review. Omling, who is the president of the ESF, says the foundation will revisit the question of shutting down entirely when its members meet in June. In this case, it must decide whether a “follow-up” organ- isation will be established to carry out similar tasks to the ESF. “It won’t have the same name, but its role may be to do evaluations and peer review on a European level,

because there seems to be demand in the market for a similar type of organisation,” he says. The ESF published a peer-review guide in 2011 that aims to set minimum standards and increase research quality. “It’s easy to say that the guide is not very visionary, but no-one will believe in peer review if organisations don’t fulfil the accepted criteria,” Omling says. He adds that the Global Research Council, which represents science and engineering funding agencies around the world, has used the guide as a benchmark for peer-review standards. Science Europe, meanwhile, has established itself in Brussels as a vocal lobby group, representing 52 national research organisations from 27 countries. With so many voices represented, it can’t agree on everything, but one point its members do agree on is that the diversity that exists between national research organisations should be seen as an asset, not a liability. In November, Science Europe published recommen - dations for the ERA roadmap—a forthcoming Council of Ministers document that will outline the steps needed to create a cohesive research system in Europe—arguing that the “diversity and richness of the different European research systems are strengths that need to be preserved”. Science Europe called on the Commission and nation- al governments to “rethink the ERA policy approach to allow for more mutual learning”, because not enough was known about “the complexity of the drivers behind the effectiveness of national research systems”. The roadmap effectively proposes a “shift from the prin- ciple that national research systems are complementary to an EU-level system,” Omling says. The Commission’s idea of the ERA is too focused on promoting a central research structure that all the national systems have to align themselves with, he says, rather than acknowl - edging that a certain level of diversity is a good thing. “There’s a lot of talk about alignment, coordination and the need to avoid fragmentation, but this is not construc- tive for me because not all fragmentation is bad,” he says. The focus should instead be put on having flexible goals that are attainable, and an acceptance that differ- ent countries have different priorities and realities. “You have to identify goals that you think you can obtain,” Omling says. “It’s easy to formulate dreams, but if the dream is too far from reality then I don’t think there’s a chance for success.”

More to say? Email comment@ResearchResearch.com

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

comment 7

gero federkeil

view from the top

U-Multirank indicators reveal true diversity of universities

On 30 March, the second annual edition of U-Multirank, the multidimensional, not-for-profit tool for assessing universities, was published. The number of institutions included has risen from 860 in 2014 to 1,210 in 2015, from more than 80 countries. U-Multirank provides 31 indicators in five areas:

teaching and learning; research; knowledge transfer; international orientation; and regional engagement. For each indicator, institutions are given a score ranging from A for very good to E for weak. Data come from the universities themselves, from bibliometric and patent databases such as Thomson Reuters and Patstat, and from surveys of more than 85,000 students at participating universities—one of the largest such samples in the world. There are bibliomet- ric and patent data for every institution, and more than 680 institutions provided data across all five areas The results reinforce the merits of a multidimensional approach to university ranking, emphasising that there is no ‘number one’ university in the world. Some 99 per cent of universities scored A on at least one indica - tor, and 42.2 per cent achieved five or more A scores. However, only 8.2 per cent got 10 or more A scores, and none got the top mark for all indicators. The universities that achieved 10 or more A scores had very different profiles. Some excelled mainly in research, some in knowledge transfer and some in teaching and learning. U-Multirank allows institutions to show their specific strengths, and avoids one-dimensional league- table comparisons. Coverage is most comprehensive—although not yet complete—in Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Finland, Portugal and Romania. Here, the results are helping policymakers to understand their higher education systems. U-Multirank also gives an international perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of national institu - tions, thus helping governments to avoid misguided investments in pursuit of ‘world-class’ research univer- sities. Institutions already using U-Multirank data for benchmarking include members of the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research, a network of technical universities. For the 2015 edition, the U-Multirank consortium introduced a number of features to enhance the quality

Gero Federkeil is the coordinator for U-Multirank (www. umultirank.org). He works at the Centre for Higher Education in Gütersloh, Germany.

of the data and data verification. For example, more than

  • 30 automatic plausibility checks were built into online

questionnaires, so that institutions got immediate feed- back if they entered implausible or inconsistent data. Some useful and relevant indicators, however, remain difficult to obtain or to compare across borders, highlighting the lack of comprehensive and verified international data sets on higher education. In par - ticular, data on graduate employment rates and on universities’ contribution to their regions are either lacking or not fully comparable across countries. Two reports by the European University Association provide evidence of this issue. On the one hand, a rankings review published in 2013 said that the indi- cators covered by U-Multirank were the most relevant

for strategic management. But on the other hand, a report published earlier this year, based on a survey of U-Multirank participants, revealed that many institu - tions lacked readily available data on these particular indicators. The U-Multirank consortium will continue to explore ways to make it easier for institutions to provide the relevant data. For the 2016 edition of U-Multirank, which will be published next March, we aim to include 200 additional institutions with full data sets. Six fields will also be added: mathematics, chemistry and biology will extend the coverage of science, while the addition of sociology, history and social work will mean that the social scienc-

es and humanities are included for the first time. There will also be a special focus on recruiting more institutions from outside Europe. In the 2015 edition,

  • 57 per cent of the participating universities were from

Europe, with 18 per cent from Asia, 16 per cent from

North America and the remaining 9 per cent from Africa, Latin America and Oceania. The U-Multirank consortium is led by the Centre for Higher Education in Germany and two Dutch institu - tions: the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente and the Centre

for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University. The project is support- ed by the European Commission and has €4 million from the Erasmus+ programme for 2013-17. The ultimate goal is for an independent, not-for-profit organisation

to manage the ranking as an open source for international comparisons.

Something to add? Email comment@ ResearchResearch.com

‘The ranking shows specific strengths, avoiding one- dimensional comparisons.’



Research Europe, 2 April 2015

view from the top

günther & ludwig

How R&D subsidies helped Germany to weather the crisis

Government subsidies for R&D are usually justified on the grounds of their long-term economic effects, via the innovations that they help to bring to market. But all government spending has further consequences: sim- ply by adding money to the economy, it can stimulate demand and help to create or secure jobs. Little is known about these short-term effects of R&D subsidies, mainly because governments have long shied away from deficit spending. But during the economic crisis of 2008 and subsequent recession, many nations sought to stabilise their economies through initiatives to boost demand, consumption and lending. In Germany, one such scheme involved the rapid expansion of an R&D subsidy available to small and medium-sized enterprises: the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs, or ZIM. The aim was to encourage companies to keep up their innovative activities, remain active and retain staff. The ZIM scheme provides grants of up to €350,000 for individual companies with fewer than 250 employees, or a maximum of €2m for collaborative projects, and

requires a proportion of co-funding that varies depend- ing on the size of the company or companies involved. In 2009, at the height of the crisis, the federal gov- ernment added €900 million to the scheme’s €626m budget. It also changed the criteria so that firms with up to 1,000 employees were eligible. In 2011, the scheme returned to its pre-crisis size and scope. We have analysed the short-term effects of this expan- sion, and found it to have been a strikingly effective form of deficit spending. By our calculations, the spending triggered by the €900m increase in the programme’s budget in 2009-10 added €3.9 billion to the national economy and secured or created nearly 70,000 jobs. Without the subsidy, Germany’s GDP in 2009 would have shrunk by 0.5 per cent more than it did. The extra money funded 4,237 additional grants in 2009-10, on top of the 924 made through the basic budget. Government figures show that

‘Speed is crucial: R&D subsidies can be allocated in a matter of months.’

their recipients contributed an additional €2.4bn—2.8 times what they received. Firms spent this money on salaries, equipment, consumables and services. The vendors and employees spent this money in turn, and so on, so that the public funds for R&D triggered a chain reaction that touched all areas of the economy. This effect is known as a multiplier. It reflects the total economic activity result-

ing from a unit of spending or, in other words, the number of times each euro is spent instead of being put into savings or used to pay off a debt. Using a model of the functional relationship between different areas of an economy, called an input-output model, we calculated that the multiplier for the ZIM sub- sidy in 2009-11 was just over two. This is significantly more than other forms of economic stimulus, such as vouchers for private consumption, which have multipli- ers of less than two. Our analysis treated R&D spending as an investment. In contrast, national accounting has historically treated it as expenditure—something that disappears in the production process, like fuel. It is recognised that this does not capture the long-term benefits of R&D, and in 2009 the UN recommended treating such spending as part of a nation’s capital. In 2014, the European System of National and Regional Accounts followed suit, making this classification mandatory for EU members. Even though the boost to the ZIM scheme represented less than 1 per cent of Germany’s €100bn stimulus pack- age, it helped to make the country’s recession shorter and shallower. Added to this, we can expect to see the traditional fruits of R&D spending appearing in the next five to ten years. Speed is crucial in stimulus spending. Another advan- tage of R&D subsidies is that they can be allocated and spent in a matter of months, and then stopped just as quickly. Construction and infrastructure projects, in contrast, can take longer to plan and implement than the recession they are meant to address. In this light, Horizon 2020’s emphasis on funding small businesses is positive. But R&D spending is not an economic cure-all. The ZIM scheme played to Germany’s

strengths, including a strong base of SMEs active in R&D. Not all parts of Europe are equipped to make best use of such subsidies. Grant funding for R&D will only be well spent if it is part of a holistic approach that also takes account of physical infrastructure and human capital. This will require greater coordination, at both national and European levels, between education, research and economic ministries.

More to say? Email comment@ResearchResearch.com

Jutta Günther and Udo Ludwig are economists at the University of Bremen and the Halle Institute for Economic Research, respectively. Their paper with colleagues on the macroeconomic effects of German R&D subsidies is published in Research Policy vol 44, p623-633 (2015).

funding opportunities

Research Europe 2 April 2015

every new opportunity every discipline


EU social innovation prize

The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs invites entries for the European social innovation competition. The first prize is worth €100,000 [7].

Road information

The Government of the Netherlands, together with the Swedish Transport Administration, invites tenders for its V-Con pre- commercial procurement 2015 competition. The budget is approximately €1.22 million [25].

EU intestinal microbiomics

The JPI a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life invites proposals for its joint action – intestinal microbiomics call. This aims to support dietary interventions or guidance for modulation of intestinal microbiome to promote health and to prevent the development of non-communicable chronic diseases [26].

Anti-corruption research

The British Academy and the Department for International Development invite expressions of interest for their anti- corruption evidence

partnership. Grants are worth up to £400,000 (€543,600) each [51].



b E

photocopi E D

For subscriptions call +44 20 7216 6500


Opportunities from previous issues of Research Europe, listed by closing date. European Commission and associated funders marked EU.

Each entry is followed by a Web id


  • 10 DK Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme project grants 1166079 UK Royal Society Winton prize for science books 1161915 UK Scottish Government chemical investigations programme 1184095

  • 11 UK Institute of Historical Research Pearsall fellowship in naval and maritime history 211538 UK Institute of Historical Research Past & Present Society fellowships

  • 12 ch World Health Organization quantitation of the variability of parasite and host response to drugs

  • 13 AU Australian Society of Plant Scientists RN Robertson travelling fellowship 254012 EU European Foundation for Alcohol research grants 202268 At Interreg Central Europe call for proposals 1183817

  • 14 UK Action on Hearing Loss interna- tional project grant 198200 EU European Parliament multiple framework service contract for the provision of external expertise to the European Parliament's Commit- tee on Legal Affairs 1184031

  • 15 EU Directorate-General for Energy analysis of energy prices and costs in the EU, its member states and major trading partners 1183964 EU Directorate-General for Energy maximizing the impact of public sector procurement of renewable electricity via green public procure- ment guidelines 1184094 EU Directorate-General for Justice analysis and comparative review of equality data collection practices in the EU 1183709 EU ERA-Net Cooperation in Fisher- ies, Aquaculture and Seafood Processing transnational research call 1177524 SK International Visegrad Fund strategic grants 1172140 Jp Japan Society for the Promotion of Science international prize for biology 1172689 nL Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities

and Social Sciences fellowships for

non-Dutch scholars 205808

nL Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences research theme groups 1177334

ch Osteosynthesis and Trauma Care

Foundation research grants 197619

EU Directorate-General for Com- munication Networks, Content and Technology rapid deployment and

adaptation of sustainable socially- aware and intelligent sensing services for emerging smart cities


UK Wellcome Trust translation fund


  • 16 EU Directorate-General for Migra- tion and Home Affairs study on comprehensive policy review of anti-trafficking projects funded by the European Commission 1183893 UK MQ: Transforming Mental Health fellows programme 1173002 UK Science and Technology Facili- ties Council beam time access – ISIS

  • 17 it European Food Safety Author- ity assistance to the assessment methodology unit for statistical analyses, data management and ad hoc consultation upon request
    1183726 UK Wellcome Trust research career development fellowships in basic biomedical science 253970 UK Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale fellowships 1164964

  • 18 iL Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research two-week research fellowships for PhD students 1173082

  • 20 EU Directorate-General for Justice study on the remuneration provi- sions applicable to credit institu- tions and investment firms 1184129 EU FP7 Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf access to free- electron laser facility 253943 FR Fondation de France publication prize 1183507 FR Fondation de France research grant 1183506 SE Nordic Information on Gender Nordic funding scheme 1175517 tR Scientific and Technologi- cal Research Council for Turkey research fellowship programme for international researchers 1182561 At United European Gastroenterolo- gy support for educational meetings
    1179537 At United European Gastroenterol- ogy support of long-term projects

Online Funding Search

Online subscribers can view full details of any funding opportunity by simply searching for the Web id number as free text in a funding search.

For full details of every funding opportunity, visit


Free text: 1234567 x


Funding search



Gastroenterology research

United European Gastroenterology invites applications for its research prize. This recognises excellence in basic science and translational or clinical research.

The award is worth €100,000 and may be used to purchase equipment, research consumables and as salary support.

Web id: 251345 Email: m.wiener@medadvice.co.at Deadline: 18 May 2015 [1]

EU education and youth

The Directorate-General for Education and Culture invites tenders for studies supporting European cooperation in edu-

cation, training and youth. The tenderer will support the European Commission's work with reliable knowledge, evidence, analysis and policy guidance. The contract is worth an estimated €8 million.

Web id: 1184408

Email: eac-47-2014-call@ec.europa.eu Deadline: 30 April 2015 [2]

EU environmental legislation

The Directorate-General for the Envi - ronment invites tenders for a study to

assess the benefits delivered through the enforcement of EU environmental legislation. The tenderer will fill in the current knowledge gaps regarding the outcomes of the enforcement action

pursued by the European Commission on the implementation of EU environment law. The contract is worth up to €200,000.

Web id: 1184246 Email: env-tenders@ec.europa.eu Deadline: 30 April 2015 [3]

EU higher education

The Directorate-General for Education and Culture invites tenders for implementing and disseminating the European tertiary education register. The tenderer will pre- pare, collect, process, validate and pub-

lish data for a regularly updated database on Europe's universities as part of the European tertiary education register. The contract is worth an estimated €500,000.

Web id: 1184213 Email: eac-unite-b1@ec.europa.eu Deadline: 4 May 2015 [4]

EU sustainability assesments

The Directorate-General for Energy invites

tenders for its framework agreement to assess voluntary schemes and agree - ments used for sustainability claims. The

tenderer will assist the commission in further improving the methodology of assessments, developing new approaches for sustainability certification and review-

ing the operation of the current regime. The contract is estimated to be worth


Web id: 1184409 Email: ener-c1-tenders@ec.europa.eu Deadline: 4 May 2015 [5]

EU diversity research

The Directorate-General for Justice and

Consumers invites tenders for a business

case of diversity for enterprises, cities and

regions with focus on sexual orientation


funding opportunities

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

and gender identity. The tenderer will produce a publication on the business case for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgen- der and intersex inclusion in companies

and one on the benefits of LGBTI diversity for cities and regions. Furthermore, the tenderer will explore the economic case of LGBTI non-discrimination and inclusion.

Web id: 1184304 Deadline: 5 May 2015 [6]

EU social innovation prize

The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs invites entries for the European social innovation competition. This aims to raise awareness of social innovation's potential to provide solutions to societal challenges and foster sustainable and

inclusive growth in Europe. The first prize is worth €100,000.

Web id: 1169987 Email: info@socialinnovationprize.eu Deadline: 8 May 2015 [7]

EU h2020 electronic systems

The European Commission Horizon 2020:

Industrial Leadership and the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking (ECSEL) invite proposals for the following calls:

•ECSEL-2015-1 research and innova- tion actions call, with a total budget of €50 million, of which €33m is for expendi- ture in 2015 and €17m for 2016. Web id: 1184215 ECSEL-2015-2 innovation actions call, with a total budget of €95 million, of which €62m is for expenditure in 2015 and €33m for 2016. Web id: 1184216 Email: ecsel-office@ecsel.europa.eu Deadline: 12 May 2015 [9]

EU sustainable development

Interreg North-West Europe and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy invite proposals for trans- national project grants. These aim to produce measurable positive change in the North-West Europe territory with a focus on innovation, low carbon and

resource and material efficiency. The total budget is €370 million. Grants may cover up to 60 per cent of the total project costs. Successful projects will be reimbursed with a lump sum of €30,000 for prepara- tion costs.

Web id: 1159082 Email: josee@nweurope.eu Deadline: 18 May 2015 [11]

Education quality

The Organisation for Economic Coopera- tion and Development invites applications for the Thomas J Alexander fellowship programme. This seeks to develop and support improvements in education qual- ity and equity, particularly in emerg -

ing economies. Funding is provided for one year, including a minimum of three months spent at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France.

Web id: 1171030 Email: edu.fellowships@oecd.org Deadline: 24 May 2015 [12]

Shoulder and elbow pathology

The European Society for Surgery of the Shoulder and the Elbow invites applica- tions for its research grant. This supports basic and clinical research related to shoulder and elbow pathologies. The grant is worth €20,000.

Web id: 259563 Email: secec@wanadoo.fr Deadline: 30 June 2015 [13]

cardiovascular prize

The European Society of Cardiology's Acute Cardiovascular Care Association invites applications for its research prize. This rewards unpublished clinical or trans- lational research applied to the develop-

ment of novel therapeutic, diagnostic and logistical strategies to improve patient care and long-term outcomes. The winner receives €3,000.

Web id: 1184286 Deadline: 30 June 2015 [14]

University teaching

The German Research Foundation (DFG) invites applications for the Emmy Noether programme. This provides early-career researchers with the opportunity to rap- idly qualify for a university teaching

career. Funding will initially be awarded for a three-year period, with a possible two-year extension.

Web id: 208226 Email: verfahren-nachwuchs@dfg.de no deadline [15]

Group visits to Germany

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) invites applications for its group study visits to Germany. Awards provide students with subject-related knowledge, facilitate meetings with German students, academics and researchers, and give the students a greater understanding of

and insight into economic, political and cultural life in Germany. Visits may last between seven and 12 days.

Web id: 1180184 Email: loellgen@daad.de Deadline: 1 May 2015 [16]

historical humanities awards

The Gerda Henkel Foundation invites

proposals for the following grants:

•research project grants. Web id: 1166541 •research scholarships. Web id: 1166545 Deadline: 12 June 2015 [18]

type 2 diabetes

The European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes and Merck, Sharpe & Dome invite proposals for their European research

programme on new targets for type 2 diabetes. This aims to stimulate and accelerate European research on the identification and molecular understand- ing of new targets for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Grants are worth up to €100,000 for at least one year.

Web id: 1172208 Email: foundation@easd.org Deadline: 15 June 2015 [19]

Science and journalism

The VolkswagenStiftung invites applica- tions for its science and data-driven journalism grants. These aim to initiate joint research and reporting projects

which enable researchers and journalists to learn from each other and to generate new impulses for their respective activi- ties. Grants are worth up to €100,000.

Web id: 1184360 Email: brunotte@volkswagenstiftung.de Deadline: 15 June 2015 [20]

type 1 diabetes

The European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Lilly invite applications for research grants under their European programme in type 1 diabetes research. These promote basic and clinical bio - medical research, expedite the practi- cal application of scientific advances,

encourage clinical translational research and increase awareness of type 1 dia - betes. Grants are normally worth up to €100,000 for one year or longer, but grants of up to €400,000 are considered for clinical projects.

Web id: 201616 Email: foundation@easd.org Deadline: 1 July 2015 [21]

Security and rule of law

The Netherlands Organisation for Sci- entific Research's Division of Science for Global Development (NWO WOTRO) invites proposals for the following calls:

•security and rule of law applied research fund: call for evidence-informed ideas. Grants are worth up to €25,000 each for up to three months. Web id: 1184184 •security and rule of law applied research fund: open call for evidence- based policy advice and tools. Grants are worth up to €100,000 each for up to six months. Web id: 1184186 Email: r.zuidema@nwo.nl Deadline: 17 April 2015 [24]

Exchanging road information

The Government of the Netherlands, together with the Swedish Transport Administration, invites tenders for its V-Con pre-commercial procurement 2015 competition. This aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the nation- al road authorities by improving open

data exchange in the civil infrastructure sector, with a focus on road construction and road asset management. The budget is approximately €1.22 million.

Web id: 1184214 Email: v-con@rws.nl Deadline: 23 April 2015 [25]

EU intestinal microbiomics

The JPI a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life invites proposals for its joint action – intestinal microbiomics call. This aims to support dietary interventions or guidance for modulation of intestinal microbi - ome to promote health and to prevent the development of non-communicable chronic diseases.

Web id: 1183944 Email: jpihdhl@zonmw.nl Deadline: 28 April 2015 [26]

inflammatory bowel disease 1

The International Organisation for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease invites applications for its operating grants. These support research relevant to inflammatory bowel disease. Grants are worth up to US$150,000 (€137,300)

for up to one year, although preference will be given to grants worth no more than US$50,000. Grants may fund sala- ries for research assistants, technicians or trainees.

Web id: 1171126 Email: ioibd@mkproducties.nl Deadline: 30 June 2015 [27]

haematology collaboration

The European Hematology Association

invites applications for the following awards:

•advanced short term collaboration

award, worth up to €20,000. Web id: 1184342 •clinical research fellowships, worth up to €240,000 each. Web id: 1179803 •joint fellowship programme, in col- laboration with the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. Fellow-

ships are worth up to €100,000 each.

Web id: 1161545 junior short term collaboration

awards, worth up to €10,000 per visit.

Web id: 1184341 non-clinical advanced research fel- lowships, worth €240,000 each. Web id: 1179809 non-clinical junior research fellow- ships, worth €150,000 each. Web id: 1179805 Email: fellowships.grants@ehaweb.org Deadline: 3 August 2015 [33]

inflammatory bowel disease 2

The International Organisation for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease invites applications for its travel grants. These enable physicians or researchers

to visit foreign IBD centres for research, projects or clinical experience. Each grant is worth up to €20,000.

Web id: 1171127 Email: ioibd@mkproducties.nl Deadline: 1 September 2015 [34]

Mathematics prize

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters invites nominations for the Abel

prize. This recognises outstanding sci- entific work in the field of mathemat- ics, including mathematical aspects of computer science, mathematical physics, probability, numerical analysis and scien- tific computing, statistics and applica- tions of mathematics in the sciences. The prize is worth NOK6 million (€698,000).

Web id: 189271 Email: abelprisen@dnva.no Deadline: 15 September 2015 [35]

Joint nordic workshops

The Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOS-HS) and the Swed- ish Research Council invite proposals

for their Nordic workshop series. These aim to promote the development of new research areas and programmes within the humanities and social sciences in the Nordic countries. Each series of work- shops may receive up to €50,000.

Web id: 211729 Email: anni.jarvelin@vr.se Deadline: 21 April 2015 [36]

nordic prize

The Eric K Fernström's Foundation invites nominations for its annual Nordic prize.

This recognises outstanding scientific work in the field of medicine. The award is worth SEK1 million (€107,100).

Web id: 213642 Email: christina.parknas@med.lu.se Deadline: 24 April 2015 [37]

Mediterranean research

The Swedish Research Institute in Istan- bul invites applications for its large research grant. This supports research

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

funding opportunities 11

projects within humanities and social sciences that are related to Turkey, other

parts of the Eastern Mediterranean or any other areas that are culturally, historically or linguistically linked to the region. The grant is worth up to SEK45,000 (€4,800) and includes a visit to Istanbul.

Web id: 251182 Email: ingela.nilsson@lingfil.uu.se Deadline: 27 April 2015 [38]

EU antimicrobial resistance

The Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobal Resistance invites proposals for transnational research projects. These aim to sustain defence against antimi- crobal resistance by reviving neglected and disused antibiotics, designing com- binations of ND-AB and antibiotics and of ND-AB and non-antibiotics, in order to reduce occurrence of resistance or overcome established resistance. The total budget is €9.65 million. Funding

is granted for a maximum of three years.

Web id: 1176549 Email: jcsamr@agencerecherche.fr Deadline: 12 May 2015 [39]

Forestry networking

Nordic Forest Research, in collabora - tion with the North European Regional Office of European Forest Institute, invites applications for grants to support net- working activities. These aim to increase collaboration among the forest research communities in the Nordic, Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic regions. The total

budget is SEK1.15 million and grants are worth up to SEK250,000 (€26,800).

Web id: 186044 Email: bodeker.sns@slu.se Deadline: 1 June 2015 [40]

Life sciences prize

The Science for Life Laboratory, the Sci- ence magazine and the American Asso- ciation for the Advancement of Science invite entries for their prize for young scientists. This recognises the best doc- toral research thesis related to the life sciences. Category prizes are worth up to US$10,000 (€9,100) each and the grand prize is worth US$30,000.

Web id: 1179711 Email: scilifelabprize@aaas.org Deadline: 1 August 2015 [41]

Mobility grants

The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova) and Marie Curie Action invite applications for the VINNMER Marie Curie incoming call, under the Mobility for Growth programme. This aims to strengthen qualification oppor- tunities for international researchers through increased mobility opportunities, by visiting and working in Swedish host

organisations. The budget is worth up to SEK130 million (€13.9m).

Web id: 1171201 Email: erik.litborn@vinnova.se Deadline: 16 September 2015 [42]

oncology research fellowship

The European Society for Medical Oncol- ogy invites applications for the Georges Mathé translational research fellowship. This enables investigators to receive research training on oncology and cancer immunology. The award is worth €35,000.

Web id: 1177552 Email: esmo@esmo.org Deadline: 1 May 2015 [43]

hepatology fellowships

The European Association for the Study of the Liver invites applications for the Dame Sheila Sherlock EASL entry-level research fellowships. These aim to enhance the mobility of investigators within different European institutions and to actively promote scientific exchange among research units in hepatology. Fellow - ships are worth €30,000 each.

Web id: 196096 Email: easloffice@easloffice.eu Deadline: 30 november 2015 [44]

Remote gambling research

The Responsible Gambling Trust invites tenders for its remote gambling research programme. The tenderer will explore the potential usefulness of behavioural analytics and industry-held data in the remote gambling sector to indicate mark- ers or patterns of behaviour that may be indicative that customers are experienc-

ing gambling-related harm, and mitigate such risks or harms. The total budget is worth £500,000 (€679,200).

Web id: 1184165 Email: remoteitt@responsiblegam - blingtrust.org.uk Deadline: 24 April 2015 [47]

cancer research travel

The Royal College of Physicians and Sur- geons of Glasgow invites applications for the Davies Foundation travelling fel- lowship. This enables consultants to

take a sabbatical in order to undertake further study or research in cancer and related fields. Awards are worth £10,000 (€13,600) each.

Web id: 257527 Email: scholarship@rcpsg.ac.uk Deadline: 24 April 2015 [48]

Wave energy systems

The Scottish Government's Highlands and Islands Enterprise invites registrations for its research and development services call on power take-off systems for wave ener- gy. This supports wave energy technology development projects in areas that have been prioritised as requiring the most development or having the most impact on the future cost of energy. The total

budget is worth up to £7 million (€9.5m).

Web id: 1184305 Email: hieprocurement@hient.co.uk Deadline: 15 May 2015 [49]

Fuel poverty research

Eaga Charitable Trust invites proposals for its fuel poverty grants. These support work that contributes to understanding

and addressing the causes and effects of fuel poverty, and understanding the links between fuel poverty and health, and financial and social impacts at the nation- al, devolved and local levels. Grants are worth up to £25,000 (€34,100).

Web id: 1166479 Email: eagact@aol.com Deadline: 1 June 2015 [50]

Anti-corruption research

The British Academy and the Department for International Development invite expressions of interest for their anti- corruption evidence partnership. Funding enables research teams to identify the most successful ways of addressing cor- ruption in developing countries. Grants are worth up to £400,000 (€543,600).

Web id: 1184297 Email: projects@britac.ac.uk Deadline: 24 June 2015 [51]

cancer research equipment

The Royal College of Physicians and Sur- geons of Glasgow invites applications for the Aileen Lynn bequest fund. This supports the purchase of small equipment for cancer research. Grants are worth up to £5,000 (€6,800) each.

Web id: 257522 Email: scholarships@rcpsg.ac.uk Deadline: 28 August 2015 [52]

rest of world

Mineral deposit exploitation

The Australian Academy of Science invites applications for the Haddon Forrester King medal. This recognises contributions to Earth sciences of particular relevance

to the discovery, evaluation and exploi- tation of mineral deposits. The award is worth up to AU$10,000 (€7,100).

Web id: 1171916 Email: awards@science.org.au Deadline: 30 April 2015 [56]

travel to Australia

The Australian Academy of Science invites nominations for the Selby fellowship.

This enables scientists to visit Australia for public lecture or seminar tours. The fellowship is worth up to AU$13,000 (€9,300) for up to three months.

Web id: 203772 Email: awards@science.org.au Deadline: 15 June 2015 [57]

Water prize

The Singapore International Water Week invites nominations for the Lee Kuan Yew water prize. This recognises con - tributions towards solving the world's water problems by applying novel tech- nologies or implementing innovative policies and programmes. The prize is worth SG$300,000 (€200,500).

Web id: 1172730 Email: leekuanyewwaterprize@siww. com.sg Deadline: 15 May 2015 [58]

Democracy grants

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

invites applications for its international grants. These enable organisations based outside of Taiwan to carry out projects to promote democracy and human rights, such as advocacy projects, research, conferences, publications and edu - cational programmes. Grants usually range between US$3,000 (€2,700) and


Web id: 1182114 Email: grants@tfd.org.tw no deadline [59]

Energy prizes

The Mubadala Development Company invites applications for the Zayed future energy prizes. These recognise significant contributions to advance the fields of renewable energy and sustainability.

The prize fund is US$4 million (€3.7m).

Web id: 1160614 Email: info@zayedfutureenergyprize. com Deadline: 22 June 2015 [60]

Research Europe, 2 April 2015 funding opportunities 11 projects within humanities and social sciences that are


funding opportunities

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


Diaphragm analysis *ESA

The European Space Agency invites tenders for verification of diaphragm analysis. The tenderer will take part in the development of diaphragm tanks, this by establish math- ematical models allowing the analytical verification of selected diaphragm design with respect to both function and struc- tural integrity. This activity is restricted to non-prime contractors, including small and medium enterprises. The contract is worth up to €500,000. Ref: 14.123.12. Deadline: 22 April 2015

Materials/components *ESA

The European Space Agency invites ten- ders for an assessment of materials and processes design margins for spacecraft and launchers. The tenderer will identify the maturity level of the various materi- als and processes design margins for spacecraft and launchers and the levels of uncertainty involved, including areas where the margins could be affected by use of out of date or inaccurate data for materials properties. The contract is worth up to €500,000. Ref: 14.1QM.13. Deadline: 28 April 2015

Metrology engineering *ESA

The European Space Agency invites tenders for the development of an operational assimilation of space radar and lidar cloud profile observations for numerical weather prediction. The tenderer will develop an operational data assimilation system for space-borne lidar and radar observations for cloud profiles and precipitation. The contract is worth up to €500,000. Ref:

14.197.29. Deadline: 29 April 2015

optical communications *ESA

The European Space Agency invites ten- ders for a system study of optical and radio-frequency communications with a hybridised optical payload data transmit- ter. The tenderer will examine the poten- tial of an optical communication system for spacecraft that combines deep-space radio-frequencies and optical payload data transmission systems. The contract is worth at least €500,000. Ref: 15.1ET.02. Deadline: 1 May 2015

X-ray telescope *ESA

The European Space Agency invites ten- ders for an Athena phase-A system study for a large X-ray telescope. The tenderer will conduct a phase-a industrial system study for the Cosmic Vision L2 mission candidate, Athena, targeting the flight opportunity in 2028. The study will consist of parallel contracts with a duration of 30 months that will cover a range of technical and risk assessment topics. The contract is worth at least €500,000. Ref: 15.164.06. Deadline: 6 May 2015

Lidar observations *ESA

The European Space Agency invites ten- ders for the assimilation of lidar observa- tions of aerosols for climate modelling and numerical weather prediction. The tenderer will develop robust assimilation schemes for aerosol products from Euro- pean space-based lidars. The contract is worth up to €200,000. Ref: 13.197.06. Deadline: 18 May 2015


*ESA is at: http://emits.esa.intw


Children's Tumor Foundation drug dis- covery initiative awards Web id: 1159669 Deadline: 20 April 2015 [67]

US Department of Defense breast can- cer research programme: breakthrough awards levels 3 and 4

Web id: 1178953 Deadline: 24 April 2015 [68]

US Department of Defense breast cancer research programme: innovator award

Web id: 1178927 Deadline: 24 April 2015 [69]

Marfan Foundation faculty grant pro- gramme

Web id: 1178751 Deadline: 27 April 2015 [70]

Environmental Research and Education Foundation scholarships Web id: 208009 Deadline: 1 May 2015 [72]

Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthro- pological Research post-PhD research grants Web id: 256013 Deadline: 1 May 2015 [73]

US Department of Defense ovarian can- cer research programme – pilot award

Web id: 1157972 Deadline: 6 May 2015 [74]

US Department of Defense ovarian can- cer research programme: clinical trans- lational award

Web id: 1173634 Deadline: 6 May 2015 [75]

US Department of Defense amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research programme – therapeutic development award

Web id: 1159063 Deadline: 11 May 2015 [76]

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation new ways to reduce childhood pneumonia deaths through the delivery of timely effective treatment

Web id: 1184013 Deadline: 13 May 2015 [78]

US Department of Defense ovarian can- cer research programme: investigator- initiated research award

Web id: 1179177 Deadline: 13 May 2015 [79]

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association research grants

Web id: 207387 Deadline: 15 May 2015 [81]

Lupus Research Institute distinguished innovator awards Web id: 1166134 Deadline: 25 June 2015 [82]

Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes/Chiang Ching-kuo Foun- dation for International Scholarly Exchange summer institutes

Web id: 1184242 Deadline: 1 July 2015 [83]

Spencer Foundation Lyle Spencer research awards Web id: 1184173 Deadline: 9 July 2015 [84]

Library of Congress Kluge fellowships Web id: 213734 Deadline: 15 July 2015 [85]

International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation international travelling scholarship

Web id: 210534 Deadline: 1 August 2015 [86]

policy diary


  • 22 10th International Scien- tific Conference for Economic Integrations, Competition and Cooperation, Opatija, Croatia. To 24. http://rsrch.co/1uZAOFK

  • 28 Earto and Eirma Annual Confer- ence 2015, Luxembourg. To 29. http://rsrch.co/1zMOtsn


  • 5 Innoveit 2015 – EIT Innovation Forum, Budapest, Hungary. http://rsrch.co/1bxJaT8

  • 6 Key Enabling Technologies for Regional Growth: Synergies Be- tween Horizon 2020 and ESIF, Brussels, Belgium. http://rsrch.co/1EY5QpA

  • 14 EHEA Ministerial Conference 2015: The Bologna Process, Yerevan, Armenia. To 15. http://rsrch.co/1ytxfuj

  • 20 ICT for Ageing well, Lisbon, Portugal. To 22. http://rsrch.co/1sFCXH1

  • 28 Data Infrastructures for Sus- tainable Growth, Lisbon, Portu- gal. http://rsrch.co/1L2FusB


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  • 18 The Future of Doctoral Educa- tion – Where do we go from here? To 19. Munich, Germany. http://rsrch.co/1LgKd6E

  • 22 A new Start for Europe: Opening up to an ERA of Innovation. To 23. Brussels, Belgium. http://rsrch.co/1CMmo07

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  • 14 International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries. Poznan, Poland. To 18. http://rsrch.co/1AUR9UC

  • 24 Re-work Future Health Summit, London, UK. To 25. http://rsrch.co/1zGccsh

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Research Europe, 2 April 2015




Under construction

As the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures prepares its updated roadmap, many facilities are seeking funding elsewhere. Cristina Gallardo reports.

On 31 March, the European Commission closed its call for proposals to decide which scientific facilities were worthy of inclusion in the 2016 roadmap from Esfri, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures. The update, six years after the roadmap was last asse - ssed, is an attempt by the Commission to reinvigorate its support for Pan-European research infrastructure. The list of 48 facilities will be cut down to 25, of which nine will be new. About 20 operational facilities will be removed and given the new status of ‘landmark’ facili - ties. And those that have been on the list since 2006 but have not yet been constructed will be asked to reapply to justify their place, the Commission said. The Commission is aiming to improve funding for sci- ence facilities, which it has labelled as central to the European Research Area. But many people do not believe that the refreshed Esfri strategy will be enough to tackle the fundamental problem for EU infrastructure: how to meet the costs of construction and operation. The €2.5 billion in Horizon 2020 funding allocated through Esfri will only support the design and develop- ment of projects, for example by funding feasibility and design studies, or transnational access to laboratories. “Once you’re prioritised by Esfri, you still have to find your own funding,” says Wolfgang Sandner, the chief executive of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), a laser facility under construction outside Prague. “There is no sustainable EU funding for construction or operation.” This leaves member states to finance construction, but many are reluctant to fund projects outside their borders. The European Spallation Source neutron beam facility, under construction in Lund, Sweden, took two decades to secure enough funding to begin. The construction costs of €1.8bn have now been met by a consortium of nations, and operational costs are expected to be about €150 million a year—but the EU contribution is just €5m. Until the end of the 1990s, member states preferred the Commission to keep out of infrastructure funding to allow them to retain control over valuable ‘big science’ projects, says Peter Tindemans, the secretary-general of the scientists’ group Euroscience and, from 2000 to 2010, the chairman of the ESS. However, he says the recession has forced them to shift this stance. But experiences such as the spiralling of the budget for the Iter nuclear reactor in France, from €2.7bn to an estimated €7bn, have made the Commission reluctant to provide full funding for infrastructure, says Tindemans.

Carlo Rizzuto, the president of the Elettra synchrotron in Trieste, Italy, and a former chairman of Esfri, says this needs to change. He argues that future Framework pro- grammes should allocate as much as 20 per cent of funds to research facilities. The money could still be allocated through Esfri, he says, but should be used for construc- tion and operational costs as well as design. Giorgio Rossi, a physicist at the University of Milan and vice-chairman of Esfri, agrees. He also defends the Commission’s decision to prioritise a smaller number of projects in the 2016 update. “The Commission has tended to spread its support relatively thinly across many labo- ratories,” says Rossi. “It should reduce the number of facilities and be more substantial.” This, he says, will guarantee the success of the facilities that are supported. But many struggling facilities are already looking elsewhere for support, including to EU structural funds. The ELI laser facility, which is supported by laboratories in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, has suc- cessfully used the European Regional Development Fund to finance 85 per cent of its €850m construction costs. And speaking in London on 23 March, the EU research commissioner Carlos Moedas suggested that infrastruc- ture projects could apply for funding from the European Fund for Strategic Investments, a €315bn economic stimulus package being planned by the Commission. Private investors could fill the gap in funding, Moedas said, using money from the EU budget as a guarantee. “Several member states have already indicated their willingness to use Efsi for projects including the ESS, the Elixir life-science project and the BBMRI biobank infrastructure,” says a Commission spokeswoman. “Efsi should provide genuine opportunities for the construc- tion and upgrades of infrastructure.” But science groups remain sceptical, as Efsi will only provide loans, not grants—making it an unrealistic solution for telescopes or neutron facilities with timelines of a decade or more. According to Tindemans, it is up to the Commission and member states to find a sustainable

funding solution for infrastructure. “None of the major research facilities in the United States gets company financing for construction or operating costs,” he says. “That should teach European governments and the Commission a lesson or two.”

Something to add? Email comment@ ResearchResearch.com

‘There is no sustainable EU funding for construction or operation.’



Research Europe, 2 April 2015

uk & ireland

Rule change at government labs

The UK government is to remove the public-sector pay cap from national research institutes. In his last budget before the election in May, chan - cellor George Osborne announced plans to invest about £240 million in research and innovation projects, offer £25,000 loans to PhD students, and give national research institutes “new budget freedoms” including the ability to break through the 1 per cent cap on pay rises. A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that institutes would now be able to manage their pay bills within their existing budg- ets; be exempt from procurement controls for high-end scientific computing; be exempt from some procurement controls for marketing and advertising; and enjoy more freedom in using commercially earned income. Jane Francis, the director of the British Antarctic Survey, says she hopes the changes will make it easier for institutes to employ top researchers. She has lob - bied for greater flexibility, and says the devil will now be in the detail. “The salaries that government research institutes can offer are not particularly competitive with universities or industry,” which has made it difficult for them to recruit top-quality scientists, she says. Elsewhere in the budget, the Conservative-led gov - ernment said that income-contingent loans of up to £25,000 to support PhDs and research-based masters

by Adam Smith


degrees would be provided in addition to existing fund- ing. It is also planning to review how to strengthen funding for postgraduates, and examine the balance between the number and level of research stipends to ensure that the UK remains internationally competitive. The chancellor’s overall message was that the UK is on the road to economic recovery and, although it must continue to make public spending cuts to ensure the recovery is sustainable, it can start to raise spend- ing again after 2017-18. “Britain is on the right track,” Osborne told parliament. “We must not turn back.” Osborne said the government would need to save £30 billion by 2017-18, which is half the amount that the opposition, Labour, said the Conservatives would need to save to meet their deficit reduction target. Figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility, pub- lished alongside the budget on 18 March, show that the deficit is now half of what the government inherited in 2010, when it was 10 per cent of national income. The OBR forecasts that it will be 0.6 per cent by 2017-18. The chancellor said his planned savings of £30bn would be achieved by cutting £13bn in public spend - ing and £12bn in welfare, and preventing losses of £5bn from aggressive tax avoidance or evasion.

u k & i

in brief

Structural biologist named Royal Society president

The structural biologist and Nobel

prizewinner Venki Ramakrishnan has been elected to take over from Paul Nurse as presi- dent of the Royal Society. Ramakrishnan, who works in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge, will take over the top job at the national academy in December.

UK fails to live up to graphene hype

A government analysis of worldwide patents in 2015 has concluded that the UK does not register enough pat - ents on inventions using graphene. The University of Manchester holds 12 patent families, the most in the UK, but two top Korean and Chinese technology companies hold almost 500 patent families each.

Strategy takes Ireland’s researchers by surprise

Many of Ireland’s research organisations have hastily prepared written responses to help shape a strategy for science, technology and innovation that the govern - ment hopes to have in place by the summer. Researchers are angry that the consultation was published on the

websites of 10 government departments without any announcement being made.

No commitment to increased science spending

Prime minister David Cameron has refused to com - mit to a real-terms increase in the science budget if

the Conservatives are re-elected in the May election. Responding in parliament to a question from one of his own MPs on whether he would raise the science budget, Cameron made no reference to future spending plans.

‘No lobbying, no threatening’, says SKA boss

The director-general of the Square Kilometre Array tel - escope project has denied that UK delegates behaved aggressively at a meeting to decide the location of the telescope’s administrative headquarters. SKA director- general Phil Diamond said that nothing untoward took place at the meeting on 2 March. “There was no lobby-

ing, no threatening going on,” he said.

Minister urged to address STEM gender imbalance

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly have called on Stephen Farry, the minister for employment and learning, to publish a strategy and action plan to address gender imbalance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Farry said in 2013 that women were important to STEM subjects in Northern Ireland,

but the government has no strategy to address their underrepresentation in relevant posts.

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

news 15


Italy’s stem cell saga draws to a close

The psychologist who developed the unproven Stamina stem cell treatment for terminal nerve diseases has been handed a suspended sentence of one year and 10 months by an Italian court. Davide Vannoni was on trial with 17 other people on charges including intent to commit fraud in connec - tion with the therapy, which was used on terminally ill patients with degenerative nerve diseases. Vannoni had been under investigation since 2009 for allegedly administering drugs that could harm public health, and in 2012 the Italian Medicines Agency concluded that his treatment, based on cultured mesenchymal stem cells, was unproven and unsafe. But in spring 2013, the Italian parliament ruled that the treatment could be used at a hospital in Brescia in northern Italy, and allocated €3 million to an 18-month clinical trial, following political pressure to allow the treatment to be used on compassionate grounds. Vannoni was brought to trial after the Italian minister of health drew a halt to the use of the therapy in August 2014, on the basis that the Stamina procedure had been rejected by a scientific committee. Vannoni’s sentence, requested as part of a plea bargain by the lawyers of the president of the Stamina Foundation, was accepted by prosecutors in Turin on 18 March, on condition of an immediate halt to all use of the treatment in Italy.

by Marta Paterlini


Scientists in Italy and abroad have been infuriated by the length of time it has taken the Italian government to take action against Vannoni and his colleagues, as there was never any evidence to suggest that the thera- py might have worked. In parallel to the judicial proceedings, the Italian senate has conducted an investigation into the affair, led by the stem cell biologist Elena Cattaneo, who was appointed honorary senator in 2013. The team’s report, presented in February, includes 10 proposals to improve Italy’s use of science in policy. One of the recommendations is to introduce the Daubert standard, a law used in the United States, into the Italian legal system. This would require courts to independently assess the validity of scientific advice. Cattaneo’s team also proposes changes to a 2006 decree under which the compassionate use of therapies is allowed on an emergency basis even if a therapy has not yet been approved, as long as there is some evidence of efficacy. Even though this decree should have been enough to block Stamina, because it requires treat - ments to be effective, we still might need to change it,” Cattaneo wrote in an article in the national newspaper La Stampa last month.


in brief

France set to name secretary of state for research

Two prominent academics have

been named as possible suc - cessors to Geneviève Fioraso, who resigned as France’s secretary of state for research earlier this month. They are Marie-Christine Lemardeley, a literary scholar and former president of the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris, and mathematician Bertrand Monthubert, the president of the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. Three socialist MPs have also been suggested: Alain Claeys, Jean-Yves Le Déaut and Maud Olivier.

Sarkozy calls for headscarf ban at universities

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, has said that head-coverings worn by Muslim women should be prohibited in universities, just as they are in state schools. Sarkozy, who is positioning himself for a fresh presidential run in 2017, said he could not “see the logic of banning the veil in schools but allowing it at universities”. The remarks have been widely judged as an attempt to coax right-wing support back from the Front National party.

Deal to improve science careers in Bavaria

Bavaria’s government, universities and industry have agreed a set of guidelines to improve job security and

aid career planning among science graduates. The deal, signed on 19 March, is based on offering fair contracts

to graduates and doctoral students, taking their indi-

vidual situations into account. The guidelines include recommendations for businesses to offer part-time work to employees who return to university, and for the gov- ernment to offer greater job security to professors.

More support for Syria fund

Baden-Württemberg has joined a German funding pro- gramme set up to support Syrian doctoral students displaced by the war. The initial intake of students will be about 50, and the state will spend about €1.65 million a year to help them with housing and provide doctoral salaries. The programme is run by the German Academic

Exchange Service, the DAAD.

Leopoldina security committee starts work

Germany’s academy of sciences, the Leopoldina, has set up a committee to monitor how researchers deal with work related to national security. The committee aims to understand how the pressures of working on such research, for example in weapons development, political science and some health topics, affect those doing the work. It will also aim to ensure that the results of security- related science do not fall into the wrong hands.



Research Europe, 2 April 2015


Norway presents nationwide merger plan

The Norwegian government has announced details of the country’s planned mergers of higher education insti- tutions, and proposed a set of criteria that institutions must meet to continue to function in their own right. In a white paper published on 27 March, the gov - ernment outlines plans to merge 14 of the country’s higher education institutions into five universities, and to retain the possibility of future mergers between others. The aim is to increase the quality of higher edu- cation and research, and promote regional development, the government said in a statement on 23 March. “Our resources are spread too thinly across the coun- try,” said research minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen. “We are now laying the foundation for stronger universities and university colleges in all regions.” One of the confirmed mergers—bringing together the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Sør-Trøndelag University College, the Gjøvik University College and Aalesund University College—will create the largest university in Norway. The NTNU board voted to approve this merger in January, following a letter from the government in May 2014 asking all insti- tutions to consider how they might be restructured. Meanwhile, the University of Stavanger will be com- bined with Stord/Haugesund University College, and the

by Jenny Maukola


University of Tromsø will join Harstad University College and Narvik University College. In the white paper, the government outlines nine requirements that institutions must meet to avoid being restructured. These include targets for publication out- puts, proportion of staff members holding PhD degrees, number of students, external income, international cooperation and engagement with society. The government will use these criteria to investigate a further three mergers that have been proposed involv- ing nine universities and colleges, it said. The country’s other institutions will also be assessed. Petter Aaslestad, the president of the researchers’ association Forskerforbundet, says he is glad the gov - ernment is looking at measures to improve the quality of higher education. However, he says: “It is important to remember that quality is not synonymous with mergers.” Aaslestad adds that institutions must be allowed to conduct mergers voluntarily, in close cooperation with their staff members. “If employees are drawn into a merger against their will, it will affect the quality of their work,” he says. “This process needs to be done with enthusiasm.”

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Research Europe, 2 April 2015

analysis 17

Finland’s election forecast: trouble ahead

There was an air of optimism among the academics who gathered at the University



of Helsinki on 19 March for a pre-election debate between representatives of the national parties. Many were hoping to hear promises that universities would be saved from impending budget cuts, as parties jostled to secure the country’s science vote. Instead, their optimism was quelled as they were reminded that, whatever government takes power after the elections on 19 April, the country’s bleak economic situation makes it unlikely that universities can be spared. According to a government report published on the day of the debate, Finland needs to cut public spending by €6 billion, or 3 per cent of GDP, by 2019 to get its economy back on track. Despite an outward

appearance of prosperity, Finland’s 2014 govern - ment debt was €90bn, equal to 46 per cent of GDP. And figures released by the Unifi university asso - ciation on 19 March reveal that Finland’s university index—which determines basic funding according to measures such as wage and salary earnings—has dropped three times since it was introduced in 2011. This has amounted to a €255-million reduction in uni- versity income between 2011 and 2015, says Unifi. But at the debate, only the Green League and the liberal Swedish People’s Party of Finland said they wanted to reverse this trend. The Social Democratic Party of Finland, which forms part of the coalition in power now, even defended the state of higher educa- tion relative to other areas of public spending. “In the past four years, the position that universities have been in has been reasonable,” said Pilvi Torsti, the state secretary for Finland’s minister of education and science. And only the leader of the Green League, Ville Niinistö, acknowledged that the country’s wider poli- tics made it likely that higher education would be first on the chopping board. Last month, the Finnish par-

by Jenny Maukola


liament rejected a plan to cut €191m from school-age

education because of political pressure. Meanwhile,

Finland’s reputation for a high quality of welfare means that the health and social care budgets are also unlikely to be touched. “It has been easier for the government to cut from higher education than from healthcare,” said Niinistö. “As a result, the govern - ment has cut way too much from education, which is a bad mistake.” The latest forecasts indicate that Finland will once again be governed by a large coalition following the general election. A poll by national news broadcaster Yle on 20 March found that the agrarian Centre Party was predicted to secure about 25 per cent of the vote, followed by the Social Democratic Party and the centre- right Kokoomus with 16 per cent each, and the Finns Party—a populist anti-EU group—with 15 per cent. Parties may find common ground in a plan to intro- duce tax exemptions to make it easier for universities to receive private donations. This policy was support- ed by all debate panelists except the Left Alliance MP Anna Kontula, although Niinistö maintained that it could not be considered a replacement for govern - ment funding. And the three most popular parties also agreed that universities should charge tuition fees for students from outside the EU or the European Economic Area to increase their income. However, this could prove tricky to enact given that the government failed to introduce a similar proposal in 2014, following vocal protests by students and researchers. After the polls close on 19 April, Finland can expect a brief hiatus from budget discussions while the par- ties negotiate to form a coalition government. But shortly after, political pressure on the government to reduce public spending and balance the books will return louder than ever. For universities seeking a respite from belt-tightening measures, the outlook doesn’t look good.


in brief

Universities should centralise subjects, says report

Finland’s universities should com-

bine forces for particular subjects to improve the quality of research and teaching, a report has suggested. The number of teaching units across all universities should be halved from 272 to reduce frag - mentation, according to Aalto University rector Tuula Teeri and Arto Mustajoki, the dean of humanities at the University of Helsinki.

Switzerland commits more funds to ESS

The Swiss parliament has signed an agreement to con-

tribute an extra 97.2 million Swiss francs (€93m) to the

construction of the European Spallation Source, which is being built in Lund, Sweden. This takes the total Swiss contribution to CHF130m, or 3.5 per cent of the ESS budget. “The ESS will allow Swiss researchers to con- duct experiments that are not possible in Switzerland,” said Martin Steinacher, the deputy head of international cooperation in research at the Swiss state secretariat.



Research Europe, 2 April 2015


NSF director defends social sciences

France Córdova, the director of the National Science Foundation, has defended the embattled social sciences in Congress, telling appropriators that all NSF directo- rates have equal status. Córdova was testifying before the House of Repres- entatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, which funds her agency, on 17 March. Subcommittee chairman John Culberson, a Texas Republican, said at the hearing, however, that it would be difficult for Congress to fulfil the agency’s $7.7- billion (€7.1bn) request for 2016, which would be a 5 per cent increase on its 2015 budget. At the hearing, lawmakers also suggested that the NSF should bring its budget requests directly to Congress for approval rather than go through the traditional process of gaining the approval of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget first. Pressure on the NSF’s directorate for social sciences mounted in 2014 when Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, began investigating how the agency awarded its grants. A disproportionate number of the studies Smith has que- ried have been from the directorate. “The NSF has long prided itself on adding to the knowledge base for all of science and engineering. That

by Sam Lemonick


is, by statute, not a narrow focus,” Córdova said during the hearing. She told the subcommittee that she was there to discuss why the NSF funded what it funded, and pointedly mentioned social and behavioural research. She pointed out that 51 Nobel laureates in econom - ics had received funding from the NSF’s directorate for social sciences. Culberson said, however, that the NSF should be careful about what it funds, lest taxpayers think it is supporting frivolous research and the agency’s reputa- tion is weakened. Some members of the subcommittee also suggested that Congress could oversee the budgets of specific directorates, rather than the overall budget for the agen- cy as it does now. Córdova argued against that idea, telling the representatives that it would be too much work for the NSF and would drive scientists to lobby for more money for their directorate of choice. “Planning needs to be highly flexible and adaptive to discoveries, insights and advances that are unpre - dictable. It is limiting to plan for a future that cannot be envisioned. It is the opposite of what we are funded to do, which is to pursue great ideas of creative people,” Córdova said.


in brief

Salaries up 2 per cent

An annual survey of academics

has found that tenured and ten -

ure track professors made 2 per cent more in 2014 than the year before, with those in engineering and computer science among the best paid. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources surveyed more than 175,000 faculty members at public and private colleges and universities.

House wants to change EPA boards

The House of Representatives has voted to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory boards, but critics say the idea—which president Barack Obama has threatened to veto—is an attempt to weaken envi- ronmental regulation. The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act would alter who can serve on the panels that

guide science rules and policies at the agency.

NASA funding spent on space exploration had fallen by 8 per cent since 2009.

NSF announces open-access plan

The National Science Foundation has said it will rely on publishers to make papers from research it has funded freely available on their own sites a year after they are first published. The agency will also maintain an archive of papers or links to papers, but this will only exist for preservation and will not be publicly searchable.

University halts clinical trials

The University of Minnesota has said it will stop enroll- ing patients in trials of psychiatric treatments, following a report on the suicide of a patient who had been partici-

pating in a clinical trial. Dan Markingson killed himself in 2004 during an AstraZeneca-sponsored trial of anti- psychotic drugs at the university’s hospital in Fairview.

NASA challenged on Earth observation

Members of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness have challenged NASA over its Earth science programmes, saying that the space agency should focus on space exploration instead. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who chairs the panel, told NASA administrator Charles Bolden that the proportion of

Democrats propose spending boost

Dick Durbin and Bill Foster, the Democrat senators for Illinois, have proposed an American Innovation Act to help the United States maintain its leadership in sci - ence. The act would increase federal spending on basic science at five agencies by 5 per cent a year over the next 10 years, at a cost of $100 billion (€67bn).

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

news 19


Separate research fund on track, says Kenya

Kenya is still on course to establish a National Research Fund that is not under the direct control of government ministries, according to one of the top civil servants in the ministry of education, science and technology. The government announced its intention to create the fund in 2013, but progress since then has been slow. At a meeting in Nairobi on 17 March, cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi confirmed that the required institutional and legal frameworks were now being put in place. He was speaking at a workshop about the fund, attended by participants from financial and research institutions, philanthropic organisations and academia. However, there is still no formal date for launch and it has not been revealed how much of the fund will be new money. It is possible, however, that the government may be looking to industry as an additional source. Colleta Suda, the principal secretary of state in the department of science and technology, said in a state- ment read out at the workshop that public-private partnerships would be essential to increasing resources for science, technology and innovation. Kenya’s govern- ment has allocated 345 million Kenyan shillings (€3.4m)

by Justus Wanzala


annually for research and innovation since 2008. The National Research Fund, which was established under the Science and Technology Innovation Act of 2013, is intended to increase this amount. “The current investments in R&D remain low. We intend to increase research funding to 2 per cent of GDP through partnership with key stakeholders, including the private sector and foundations,” said Kaimenyi. Kenya’s funding for research amounts to 0.5 per cent of the country’s GDP. This is more than the percentage for the least research-intensive countries worldwide (which spend about 0.2 per cent), but less than the 1 per cent spent in middle-income countries such as India. Kenya, however, is a signatory to the African Union pro- tocol that obliges member states to commit 1 per cent of their GDP to supporting scientific research. Kenya is the latest country in Africa to move towards creating a national research fund. Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda have already announced or implemented similar funds.


in brief

Iran’s campus diplomacy

Iran is expanding its network of

university campuses in the Arab

states, according to the news website University World News. The country is setting up branch campuses in Iraq, including a technical universi- ty specialising in the power industry, a medical sciences university and a branch of the Islamic Azad University. It is also branching out into the Comoros, an Arab League member state off the east coast of Africa. Iran, which already has campuses in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, is the only country in the Middle East to have an extensive branch campus programme.

Supercomputing network planned

India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given the green light to a National Supercomputing Mission, which is expected to cost 450 billion rupees (€6.6bn) over seven years. The resource will be set up and steered by government departments in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. A super- computing grid will be set up, comprising more than 70 high-performance computing facilities, and a high- speed National Knowledge Network will connect these to academic institutions and R&D labs.

Australia creates advanced health research centres

The government of Australia has announced the first four medical research centres to be set up under a strate-

gy developed in 2014 by the National Health and Medical Research Council. They are the Alfred Hospital and

Monash University medical research and health precinct

in Melbourne; Melbourne Health Partners; the South Australian Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre; and Sydney Health Partners.

More science promotion jobs in Canada

Canada is to increase its spending on science promo -

tion activities to 10.9 million Canadian dollars (€7.9m) a year to help encourage more young Canadians to study science subjects. The funding will include $3.6m to support 66 projects under PromoScience, which sup- ports community-based science camps and outreach activities. Funded projects include Let’s Talk Science, which will receive $102,000 over three years for pro - jects related to space exploration; and Actua, which will receive $510,000 over three years to develop science programmes that target at-risk youths.

Health funder reports NZ$85m revenue

New Zealand’s Health Research Council, which is under review by the government, has presented its 2014 annual report to parliament. The HRC, which supported 773 full- time-equivalent staff last year, says its revenue was 85 million New Zealand dollars (€59m) in 2013-14, and that it invested NZ$80m in health research. The council managed 433 individual contracts for health research or health research workforce development in 2014, and has committed to spending NZ$209m over the next five years.


inside out

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

W inning formula Since its inception, the Mars One project to send humans to colonise Mars has been the subject of scepticism over its funding model. But the latest revelations from Joseph Roche, an astrophysicist at Trinity College Dublin’s school of education who was shortlisted as an applicant, reveal that potential astro- nauts are ranked by a system of points that can mainly be gained by buying merchandise from Mars One. Applicants are also encouraged to accept payments for media inter- views, and donate 75 per cent of profits to the initiative. Sounds like a sound self-financing plan after all.

p rivy resear C h Following on from the Open Science movement, the latest trend in research appears to be Open Humans: an online portal that encourages par - ticipants to take part in research by “open sourcing themselves”. Suggested activities include uploading a medical history and donating blood samples. But those who are really dedicated can even participate in a study on the human digestive tract, by sending in pieces of used loo roll. It’s true that sharing is caring, but this might be a step too far.

Behind The Times At a Science 2.0 conference in Hamburg, Geoffrey Rockwell, a professor of philosophy from the University of Alberta, Canada, gave an amusing talk on humanities and open science. Referring to his subject as

a “useless” and often “solitary” pursuit, Rockwell said the humanities did have one claim to fame: it founded the original citizen science project, the Oxford English Dictionary, in 1879. He then proceeded to state with no hint of irony that crowdsourcing could be used to revo- lutionise the next generation of humanities research. It seems that the best ideas take the longest.

g uil T - free hangover Those with a penchant for ale will be pleased to hear that engineers at the Technical University of Denmark have teamed up with Danish brewery Carlsberg and the packaging company ecoX - pac to create a biodegradable bottle for beer. It’s no easy task, as the paper must be able to withstand bot- tling pressure and transport damage, as well as having a six-second production time. But luckily the researchers have a three-year grant to tackle the challenge. Roll on sustainable drinking.

T he genera T ion game The decision of the former Portuguese MEP Maria Da Graça Carvalho to take up a post in the cabinet of Carlos Moedas, rather than remain in Parliament as a lead negotiator on Horizon 2020 issues, has remained somewhat of a mystery—until now. A little bird told us that Carvalho’s mother was in fact Moedas’s high-school teacher, so it seems that advising the commissioner runs in the family.

20 inside out Research Europe, 2 April 2015 W inning formula Since its inception, the Mars

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