Updated daily at www.ResearchResearch.

8 January 2015

EU-level evidence provision
needs urgent reform – p6-7
Iter Can Bernard Bigot fix it? – p8

Council ERA and Investment Plan
dominate Latvia’s presidency agenda – p5

Next Cern chief ponders
future after LHC
China considers hosting next-generation accelerator
2015 will see Cern, the European particle physics
laboratory near Geneva, resume operation of its Large
Hadron Collider at an enhanced energy level that it
hopes will yield novel insights into both the Higgs
Boson and supersymmetry.
But for 54-year-old Italian physicist Fabiola
Gianotti, who was appointed as Cern’s first-ever female
director in November, 2015 will be a year to learn on
the job from the incumbent Rolf-Dieter Heuer, before
assuming control of the facility in January 2016.
Then Gianotti will face one of the biggest questions
in European research: after the LHC upgrade, what
should Cern do next?
For half a century, physicists have pursued the
nature of matter by building ever-larger particle colliders, including circular ones, such as the LHC,
and linear ones, such as that at the Stanford Linear
Accelerator Centre in California. Any future machine
would require additional money from Cern’s 21 members, on top of its annual budget of €920 million in
2014. In an interview with Research Europe, Gianotti
acknowledges that Cern would have to develop “a very
convincing case” to raise funds for another machine.
“We will have to motivate the construction of future
high-energy accelerators with very compelling physics arguments and the impact that such a project can
have on other disciplines—and on day-to-day life,”
she says.
During Gianotti’s initial, 5-year term, she’ll have to
address what future accelerator options Cern should
explore—and whether it should seek to host one of
these options itself, or cede the opportunity to a global partner, most probably in Asia.
She’ll also help appoint the next director for
research at Cern, to succeed Sergio Bertolucci, oversee
the resumption of experiments at the LHC, and continue the evolution of the European particle-physics lab
into a genuinely global facility, whose associate members already include Pakistan and could soon include
India and Russia as well.
Soon after the detection of the Higgs boson in 2012,
Cern began a Future Circular Collider study, a design

by Cristina Gallardo


review for post-LHC particle accelerator options due
to be completed by 2018. Its physicists have also been
developing a Compact Linear Collider project, which
would fire electrons and positrons in a linear tunnel.
Although it is still unclear which type of machine
will be chosen and where it might be built, geological studies already carried out by Cern show that it
could host a larger circular collider, or a linear one,
under the mountains of Geneva. But even European
particle physicists concede that Cern’s Clic project is
at a less advanced stage than Japan’s long-standing
International Linear Collider project. It is unclear,
however, if Japan will ever build the ILC.
Following its abandonment of the Superconducting
Supercollider 20 years ago, there is little prospect of
the United States hosting a major particle physics project. China, however, is said to be considering a very
large circular collider to succeed the LHC. According
to Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate at the University
of Texas, China now has the talent and the money for
such a project. “The question that remains is whether
the Chinese government has a real intention of spending that money,” he says.
Asked about the Chinese project, Gianotti says that
Cern has unique expertise in developing and operating advanced accelerators. “I see the scientific future
of Cern continuing in the direction of high-energy
accelerators,” she says. “We have the infrastructure
and the outstanding competence of the personnel
built over decades to pursue that.”
And until a decision on a future accelerator is
taken, Gianotti says that Cern will
focus on increasing its cooperation
Every new opportunity
with others, such as Fermilab in
for research funding
the US. “We have to collaborate in
from every sponsor in
a worldwide manner to optimise the
the EU, US & beyond
use of the available resources and
Independent news
maximise scientific outputs,” she
says. “I expect stronger cooperation
Direct from Brussels
worldwide at Cern.”
Issue No. 400

2  editorial

Research Europe, 8 January 2015
Edited by Colin Macilwain
Tel: +44 20 7216 6500
Fax: +44 20 7216 6501
Unit 111, 134-146 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3AR

In collision
Will we ever see the likes of the LHC again?
Cern, Europe’s particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, can look forward to a lively 2015. Its main facility, the Large Hadron Collider, will
be back on-line in May, with its energy level boosted by 50 per cent.
Its incoming director Fabiola Gianotti will be learning the ropes before
assuming full control in January 2016. But what will happen after that?
Particle accelerators cost billions of euros to build and their gestation
time is often measured in decades. Seen in that light, physicists around
the world are already planning and lobbying for the LHC’s successor.
Cern itself has commissioned a feasibility study for a future circular
collider, to be completed in 2018. It is likely that such a collider, like the
LHC, would be constructed in two main stages. First, a 100-km circumference tunnel (three times the size of the LHC’s) would be built to house an
electron-positron collider. Later, this would be stripped out and a massive
hadron collider installed in the same space.
The effect of this approach is to spread the overall cost of the project
over many decades, the better to exploit the international treaty that
underpins Cern and assures its regular income over time.
The United States and Japan have long ceded the field to Europe. The
US-planned Superconducting Super Collider, a hadron collider considerably larger than the LHC, was abandoned in 1993. Japan’s proposal for
an International Linear Collider has been stuck ever since the Japanese
economy sank into stagnation 25 years ago.
That leaves China as Europe’s only potential rival to host any future
atom-smasher. As we report in our cover story, it has the money and
ambition. The difficulty is for China’s particle physicists to persuade their
political masters that a particle collider is the most fruitful, or even the
most prestigious, way of spending the large sum that it would cost to build.
One thing that neither Europe, nor China can recreate is the glamour
that was once attached to particle physics. When Cern was established
as a ground-breaking Pan-European collaboration in the 1950s, particle
physics was arguably the most exciting, and most prestigious, of all scientific disciplines. Few outside the discipline would say that of it today.
China may well prefer to find scientific acumen and kudos through infrastructure for biology, materials science, the Earth sciences, or even space.
That would leave Cern and its members pretty well holding the future of
particle physics in their hands. Their greatest strength is the treaty which,
thus far, no member has shown any intention of withdrawing from.
The public objective of the LHC (and the SSC) was quite explicit and
clear at the time: to find the Higgs boson. The next set of questions is
more abstract. With money so scarce, a simple and clear message is needed. Physicists have yet to formulate it. Indeed, there is much debate now
between experimentalists and theorists to justify further expense.
This leaves Cern at a fork in its long and illustrious road. It can put
its eggs in one basket—the next collider. Or it can look towards a more
diffuse range of experiments, investigating neutrinos, for example, and
persuade its members that these provide the best value for money. In the
end, that will be a decision that politicians, not physicists, will make.

“There has been a severe disconnect
between the available investment and
credible projects on the ground.”
Jyrki Katainen, a European Commission
vice-president, says a shortage of national
and EU funding for start-ups is harming
European competitiveness. Pan-European
Networks, 9/12/14.
“The result will be success.”
Poland’s science minister Jacek Gulinski has
a clear idea of why he wants the country to
win about €1.5 billion from Horizon 2020.
Horizon 2020 projects, 9/12/14.
“The monitoring and implementation do
not focus on the most important issues.”
Miguel Seabra, president of the FCT,
Portugal’s foundation for science and technology, points out what’s wrong with the
European Research Area. EurActiv, 8/12/14.
“Scientists don’t want to be biased. They
often simply aren’t aware of their unconscious biases.”
Londa Schiebinger, a historian of science at
Stanford University, California, says more
must be done to address gender bias in proposal evaluation. Euroscientist, 10/12/14.
“This is the future of science: a global data
commons, a virtual science library spanning the globe.”
The Research Data Alliance’s council cochairman John Wood warns the EU not to
abandon or reduce spending on data sharing. Science Business, 9/12/14.
“The prospects are indeed very bright.”
John Gyapong, a board member of the
European and Developing Countries Clinical
Trials Partnership, says extra EU funding to
tackle Ebola is likely to result in some form of
treatment. Star Africa, 2/12/14.
“The idea that we’d ‘been there and done
that’ did last for a long time, but that’s
gone away now.”
Lunar scientist Ian Crawford, a professor at
Birkbeck, University of London, welcomes
the idea of a European-Russian moon mission. Nature, 9/12/14.

“If there is going to be a
switch to full costs we are
very, very worried.”
Britt-Marie Tygard, deputy director of
research policy at the Swedish research
ministry, fears that full costing in
Framework 7 will hit university budgets.
Research Europe, 16 December 2004

Research Europe, 8 January 2015

news  3

what’s going on
Horizon 2020 budget figures revealed
The Horizon 2020 budget for 2015 has been pegged at €9.6 billion in an agreement reached on
8 December. The latest budget figures obtained by Research Europe show funding commitments
in the second year of the programme are likely to increase by €587 million compared with
2014. This is a positive development, after the programme faced potential cuts of more than
€1bn in 2015 under a proposal from member states. In the final deal, Horizon 2020 receives an
additional €45m for commitments on top of the Commission’s November proposal.
Member states endorse Juncker plan
The European Council has given a green light to the investment package proposed by the
president of the European Commission. In a meeting held on 18 December in Brussels, the EU
heads of states asked the Commission to put forward a draft regulation in order to strike a deal
with the other EU law-making institutions by June 2015. The fund is meant to boost economic
growth, but its enactment could divert €2.7 billion from Horizon 2020, over 3 years.
Court moves on stem cell patenting
The European Court of Justice has opened the door to the patenting of embryonic stem cells
that are not capable of developing into human beings. The court’s ruling on 18 December lifts
a 2011 ban that prevented companies from filing a patent for research in which embryonic cells
had been used. The ruling marks the end of a patent law case involving the US biotechnology
company International Stem Cells Corporation and the UK.
Faroes join Horizon 2020
The Faroe Islands has signed an association agreement to participate in the Horizon 2020
Framework programme. In a statement released on 17 December, prime minister Kaj Leo Holm
Johannesen said that the agreement would spur the country’s research and marine-based
economy. The Faroes became an associate member of Framework 7 in 2010.
Multilateral funding schemes proposed
Europe needs more multilateral funding arrangements to support international collaboration
between researchers, according to a report released by the association of research funders and
organisations Science Europe. The report, published on 15 December, recommends the creation
of international funding deals between national funders, which it says are needed because of
the increasingly global nature of research questions.
Data alliance calls for Europe to lead on Science 2.0
The EU should require all member states to publish a plan on data sharing to put Europe at the
forefront of the Science 2.0 movement, according to a report by the European branch of the
Research Data Alliance. This would help the EU to develop a coherent approach to data sharing
and take the lead in capitalising on its benefits, says RDA-Europe.
Countries want TTIP deal in 2015
After a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 18 December, the heads of the EU’s 28
member states have told negotiators to speed up talks on the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership and reach agreement by the end of the year. EU and US trade officials
are due to meet in Washington in February for the eighth round of negotiations.

4  news

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


New year, new start
Laura Greenhalgh takes a look at the early progress of Horizon 2020 and
what to expect from the year ahead.
Last month marked the end of a rollercoaster first year
for Horizon 2020. On 8 December, the EU institutions
announced they had agreed a 2015 budget that avoided
the threat of €1.1 billion cuts. Horizon 2020 will receive
more than €9bn in the coming year: it would have been
much lower if finance ministers had got their way. As
German MEP Christian Ehler said, it was somewhat of a
Christmas miracle, after a difficult year.
This is not to say that 2014 didn’t begin with real
optimism. After long negotiations on the Horizon 2020
legislation, disputes over the work programmes and longdrawn-out fears that the EU’s budget would be delayed, the
programme finally launched with €15bn-worth of calls on
11 December 2013. A week later, the European Commission
released its nine flagship industry partnerships with relish.
As research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said, it
was time to get down to business.
But it wasn’t long before cracks began to appear. In
her opening call to arms, Geoghegan-Quinn excitedly
proclaimed: “I am calling on researchers, universities,
businesses and others to sign up!” These are words she
may have come to regret. As early as January, the research
director-general Robert Jan-Smits voiced fears of a “tsunami of proposals”. And his predictions came true, with
more than 35,000 applications by the end of the year, and
success rates as low as 3 per cent for some calls.
In February, Horizon 2020 was hit by another blow: the
announcement that Switzerland would not participate as
a full member. An unintended fall-out from a popular vote
against mass immigration, it wasn’t until several months
later that the two sides reached a temporary compromise
for Switzerland to be involved. The event set the tone
for a significant dip in international participation during Horizon 2020’s first year, with Brazil, Russia, India
and China struggling to get involved. “It is taking some
time for these countries to adapt,” said deputy directorgeneral of research Rudolf Strohmeier, referring to the
Commission’s own decision not to fund BRIC countries’
participation automatically.
Last summer, participants aired their personal
Horizon 2020 gripes at the EuroScience Open Forum
and the European Association of Research Managers and
Administrators conference. One of the biggest issues
was stonewalling by the Commission—participants complained of missing feedback on failed proposals, and a
lack of dedicated people to contact.
Of course, the first year hasn’t been all bad news. In

July, the Commission launched its forward-thinking
consultation on Science 2.0, prompting widespread discussion on how the digitalisation and globalisation of
science could affect Horizon 2020, and its successor.
This coincided with the introduction of the first innovation prizes—€6 million of Horizon 2020 funds for
challenges in antibiotics, e-health, air pollution, spectrum sharing and optical transmission—and the official
kick-off of the joint technology initiatives on 9 July.
The Commission’s initial budget proposal for 2015,
€1bn more than for 2014, looked positive for research,
education and competitiveness. But optimism quickly
gave way to a battle between the European Parliament
and the Council, which lasted until the final fortnight of
the year.
Meanwhile the full extent of the EU’s cash flow problems emerged. The EU had entered 2014 with a €23bn
shortfall that it had committed to various recipients. The
message finally hit home in September when GeogheganQuinn set out the facts in black and white. “If current
trends continue, accumulated unmet payments would
result in over 40 per cent of Horizon 2020 commitments
remaining outstanding in 2020.”
So the tone was set for the final months of the programme’s first year, during which a new Commission
entered office in Brussels. Commission president JeanClaude Juncker then announced his intentions to take a
further €2.7bn from research to feed his European Fund for
Strategic Investment—hitting a live wire.
Now, as the programme enters its second year, the
question is whether Horizon 2020 is destined to be an
underfunded and oversubscribed programme. A lot will
depend on the first few months of 2015, and how well
the newly appointed Portuguese research commissioner
Carlos Moedas can fight. Despite the last-minute deal on
2015 spending, Moedas still has to prevent the €2.7bn
diversion by Juncker and solve the payment problems.
And as euros become sparser, the spotlight may also
fall on the European Research Council. The ERC has
fared well in the budget process, but critics say it awards
too much to too few. 2015 will see the development of
the next 2-year work programmes, drafts of which are
already circulating, and the launch of the Parliament’s
flagship initiative Fast-Track to Innovation. The EU will
need to show strong leadership and commitment to the
programme, if Horizon 2020 is to be a sure success.

  news  5

Research Europe, 8 January 2015

Latvian presidency to focus on
ERA governance
Latvia says it wants to reform the European Research Area
in its 6-month EU presidency, which started on 1 January.
The country aims to improve the management of the
ERA, a political concept under which researchers and
knowledge can move freely around Europe. Latvia also
wants to be involved in the development of a planned
ERA roadmap, which is expected to be adopted later in
2015, according to those managing the presidency.
Lauma Sika, a Latvian counsellor and government
attaché for research and space, says it is “more and
more clear the ERA is not just about free movement of
researchers, but about maximising the outcomes of
research production and making it more effective, so
that European firms can benefit from it”.
To set themselves apart from other attempts to reform
the ERA, Latvian government officials will hold debates
with national research ministers to define the similarities
between the ERA and the Innovation Union, an EU initiative to create sustainable growth. The presidency wants
to improve both by creating joint links, and EU countries
indicated their support for greater involvement of their
research ministers during the Competitiveness Council
meeting in December.

by Safya Khan-Ruf


Latvia’s presidency follows Italy and will give way to
Luxembourg under the EU’s system of 6-month rotating presidencies of the Council of Ministers. The three
countries have formed a troika to set a common agenda.
Latvia’s focus on the ERA is in addition to the troika’s
overall goals of increasing competitiveness through R&D
and promoting digital growth.
The country’s other big task will be to oversee the
rollout of the European Investment Plan, a large-scale
spending plan backed by European Commission president
Jean-Claude Juncker. The plan is designed to boost the EU
economy, and €2.7 billion of its costs are expected to come
from Horizon 2020. This has been met with plenty of criticism, and Latvia’s task of building agreement within the
Council and with the European Parliament is formidable.
The investment plan should be ready by mid-2015
and all the relevant legislation will need to be adopted
by then. Marika Armanovica, a spokeswoman for Latvia’s
permanent representation, says the details will be discussed in March. “This could also include emerging novel
approaches for increasing private investment,” she says.

Greek institutions cautious about reforms
Greek universities and research centres are hoping to
gain more control of their affairs and more power to
make decisions, after a research bill was approved by the
country’s parliament in December.
The Law for Research, Technological Development
and Innovation devolves to universities certain research
decisions on resources, funding and partnerships previously taken by the government. The aim is to increase
the flexibility of researchers, so universities can collaborate more easily with industry. The law also protects
researchers rights, such as pensions and their academic
jobs, if they work on an industry-funded project.
Alexandros Papalexandris from the Department of
Business Administration at the Athens University of
Economics and Business says that until now research centres and universities have been very dependent on the
government. “They had to do what the government told
them to, and now they are going to have more freedom to
take decisions and do the things they want to do,” he says.
The law is part of reforms that were introduced after
Greece cut its higher education budget by more than
50 per cent following the financial crisis of 2008. The
reforms are meant to help local universities spend their

by Safya Khan-Ruf


limited budgets more wisely, and be more flexible in
launching industry collaborations.
Christos Vasilakos, the general secretary for research
and technology in Greece said that with the law in place,
a researcher could for example “bypass the national
rules for procurement which are very strict” in order to
buy a scientific instrument needed for their research.
However, Papalexandris says some academics worry
that the law’s focus on university independence signals
even less funding for research from the government. This
could create issues for research areas in which it is difficult to exploit projects commercially and cooperate with
industry, such as the social sciences or mathematics.
The Greek government has not yet published details
on the legal structures it aims to use to provide the flexibilities and freedoms the law reform promises. If coupled
with poorly implemented reforms enacted in the past the
law may not be very efficient, says Alexander Kritikos,
research director at the German Institute for Economic
Research. “We really need to see how it is enforced and
implemented first,” he says.

6  comment

Research Europe, 8 January 2015

e v i d e n c e i n E U p o l i c y  

Set evidence free
The Commission needs a research service that works independently of any
directorate-general, argues Sofie Vanthournout.
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s possible,
although still not certain, abolition of the post of chief
scientific adviser has sparked a debate on the use of scientific evidence by the European Commission. But it is
unfortunate that the discussion has been limited mostly
to the usefulness of a CSA, or even just Anne Glover’s
performance in this role.
Gathering evidence is not as simple as asking the right
person. Research is often not designed to inform policy, and many questions are too complex for evidence,
however rigorous, to provide an easy answer. In this
environment, a CSA, and any other structure designed
for evidence gathering, must be a channel for expertise,
rather than a source.
The risk is that Juncker will conclude that the
Commission already has everything it needs for evidence-based policy. It has a directorate-general and a
commissioner for research, the Joint Research Centre, and
an elaborate procedure for assessing the impact of policies.
And yet, every Commission impact assessment on a
contentious issue is inevitably criticised and reanalysed.
In response to the impact assessment for the 2005 REACH
legislation on chemical policy, for example, two industry
studies triggered more than 30 assessments from across
the political and societal spectrum.
So what is going wrong? Glover asked me to look into
this question while on secondment to her team last
year. Digging through the Commission’s procedures and
structures proved as taxing as you’d expect, yet some
problems kept emerging: independence and transparency, or the lack of them, and access to evidence.
Ensuring the independence of research is always a
challenge. Evidence gathered in a political context, with
a commissioner steering the agenda, is especially sensitive to ideology, vested interests and lobbying. Scientists
aim to neutralise any bias with tools such as blind studies and peer review. The Commission
needs similar safeguards.
How and where evidence is gathered
is still obscure. Impact assessments do
not always reveal sources and contractors used; and if they do, they do not
justify the choices. Each DG has its
own way of doing things, making scrutiny more difficult. More transparency
would make legislation more robust
and credible.
As for access to evidence, the
Commission has four main sources of

‘The JRC’s move
to DG Education
and Culture
raised eyebrows,
but it shows the
potential for

scientific input: ad-hoc expert groups, standing committees, the JRC and the EU agencies. There is, however,
little guidance on which source to use when, so DGs tend
to use those they are familiar with. The Commission’s
procurement rules provide only a limited list of contractors, often resulting in low quality but expensive studies.
It’s not all bad news. Sometimes, such as in the thematic strategy on clean air, impact assessments have
been of high quality and popular. But poor communication between DGs prevents good practice from spreading.
Meanwhile, every policy officer is expected to manage
and evaluate studies ranging from cost-benefit analyses
and environmental impacts to wider consultations.
The Commission is still more focused on compliance
and proportionality than evidence gathering. As long as
there is nobody whose only job is gathering good evidence
and seeing that it is used, this is unlikely to change.
One solution would be to create an evidence portal—a
dedicated service for the whole Commission, independent of any one DG—to connect evidence providers and
policymakers. The lead service of any impact assessment would still be responsible for its conclusions, but
the evidence used in the assessment would be provided
through the evidence portal.
Centralising evidence gathering would help to share
expertise across pieces of legislation. Publishing all procedures and conclusions in one place would aid transparency
and communication. The JRC is the natural candidate for
such a role: it was intended to be the in-house provider
of evidence-based advice for the Commission, serving
the policy DGs. However, it has never sat comfortably
within the DG structure, and in the Directorate-General
for Research and Innovation it became ghettoised as a
research and innovation policy unit.
The JRC’s recent move to the Directorate-General for
Education and Culture raised eyebrows, but it shows the
potential for flexibility. The best move would be to free it
from the control of any one commissioner, give it the best
staff from individual DGs, and offer it as a service across
the commission, reporting to the first vice-president.
Juncker’s restructuring of the Commission provides an
opportunity to make these reforms. One can only hope
that his silence means that he acknowledges the challenge of independent scientific advice, and that he is
giving this issue the thought it deserves.
Sofie Vanthournout is based at the Belgian Academies for
Sciences and Arts and worked in CSA Anne Glover’s team
from March to July 2014. She writes in a personal capacity.

  comment  7

Research Europe, 8 January 2015

Learn from the lobbyists
Researchers and learned societies must work together to help MEPs make evidencebased policy and legislation, say Janet Thornton and Mary Todd Bergman.
With the top levels of the EU setting aside their formal
scientific advisory structure, there is concern in the scientific community that advances in research will at best
fail to yield maximum benefit to Europe’s citizens and
at worst be impeded. Europe’s learned societies need to
adopt a more proactive and cohesive approach to ensuring that legislation is based on evidence and does not
impede scientific progress.
At a recent event at the Royal Society in London, two
MEPs, along with representatives from Cancer Research
UK and the grassroots organisation EuroScience,
expressed concerns about scientists’ ability to influence policy and legislation in Brussels and gave advice
on engaging with MEPs and their staff.
One message was that academics are not well organised for such politicking. MEPs are constantly lobbied
by non-governmental organisations and business—they
receive two emails a second—but not from scientists.
The loudest voice tends to get its way, sometimes
to the detriment of science. Pressure from the music
industry, for example, has resulted in a Parliamentary
amendment to data-protection legislation, which, if
passed, would have serious (unintended) implications
for health research. Many emails from individuals—preferably with alarming subject headings—are more likely to
be noticed than one email signed by many top scientists.
The complexity and rapid turnover of Europe’s political landscape mean that scientific organisations must
engage with MEPs locally. Catherine Bearder, Liberal
Democrat MEP for South East England, and Vicky Ford,
Conservative MEP for the East of England, both stressed
the importance of getting MEPs to visit institutes in their
constituencies, to see science in action and hear about
issues in context. This helps MEPs think about whom in
other countries might help build an influential network.
A presence in Brussels is also crucial. “Make sure
you’re talking to the right people at the right time,”
says Ford. The ‘right’ people might be those working at
the early stages of policy development in the European
Commission, or parliamentary staffers who could put
your folder at the top of an MEP’s pile. They might be
the rapporteur who leads a committee and has the most
influence over a final draft, or the shadow rapporteurs
who might be sympathetic to a cause.
Janet Thornton is director of the European Bioinformatics
Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Cambridge, and chaired the Royal
Society event on working with MEPs. Mary Todd Bergman
is the institute’s senior communications officer.

Layla Theiner of CRUK put some of her institute’s lobbying successes down to connecting with the right people,
including the UK’s permanent representation to the EU,
and getting in at the earliest possible stage. She also
warned against raising issues specific to a single country, and underscored the importance of building alliances
with scientific bodies in other member states.
The European Parliament is less party-driven than
national legislatures, and MEPs have more chance to
influence legislation. To ensure this process is informed
by the evidence, scientific organisations should reach
out to MEPs, to find those most interested in science and
urge them to get on the relevant committees.
The Parliament’s lack of a formal scientific advisory
structure is both a problem and an opportunity. “The
Commission brings groups of experts together, so it
has recourse to its evidence base. Parliament does not
have the same thing,” noted Tony Mayer of Euroscience.
The Parliament’s Science and Technology Options
Assessment facility presents research reports to
European Parliament, though its structure is an issue.
“This is a gap we need to help fill,” said Mayer. “We have
to be aware of legislation and how it’s going to impact
Europe, and people in the Parliament are going to be
receptive to advice, so we have to organise at this level.
I hope EuroScience can do this.”
Institutes and universities that build a relationship
with their local MEP will do much to raise their own profile and that of the scientific issues that concern them.
These links are and will remain an important part of
engaging in the legislative process.
But there is more work to be done in Brussels, and
scientists need to do more to be heard. Joining forces
with high-profile bodies such as the Royal Society or the
Academie Francaise is vital for presenting an effective
evidence base, particularly when facing a powerful lobby
with opposing views.
We need people in European institutions to advise appropriately at
each stage of the legislative process.
This could be done better with coordination between learned societies. We
have a responsibility to ensure that
our laws are based on sound scientific
evidence. If there was ever a time to
organise and make this happen, that
time is now.
More to say? Email comment@

‘It’s important to
get MEPs to visit
institutes in their
to see science in
action and hear
about the issues.’

8  news

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


The Iter-national
Bernard Bigot, who took over as head of Iter this month, tells Safya Khan-Ruf he
has his work cut out dealing with spiralling costs and unclear project deadlines.
Managing Iter, the international thermonuclear reactor under construction in France, must feel like herding
cats. Bernard Bigot, the organisation’s latest director,
will have to deal with seven domestic agencies, around
5,000 staff from all over the world and funders who are,
at best, suspicious, following previous cost overruns.
It is the cost that he is most worried about, as endless talks on future budgets are eroding the reactor’s
financial cushion. “All this time is spent discussing and
arguing about costs, and right now, the cost of Iter is in
the order of €25 million per month,” says Bigot.
Iter was conceived in 1984 as an international collaboration to build an experimental nuclear fusion
reactor. The project’s construction in France is funded
by seven entities: the United States, India, Japan, China,
Russia, South Korea and the EU. When a joint agreement
was signed in 2006, Iter’s construction was meant to be
completed on a €5 billion budget by 2016 but this has
escalated to €13bn by 2020.
According to a report from the European Court of
Auditors in 2013, the cost escalations are partly due to
the inefficient management system. For Bigot, this is the
first point to bring the project back on track. He wants to
improve shared planning between the agencies to create
more awareness and responsibility about cost overruns.
Bigot has worked with the different agencies involved
in Iter since 2002 as a board member of Fusion for
Energy, the agency that manages the EU’s contribution
to the project. He describes the trust he built up with
the different agencies as his main
Bernard Bigot
“We are entering into the phase
2015- Director-general, Iter
fabrication and assembly so
2009-2014 Chairman, French
needs to have a more uniAtomic and Alternative
Energies Authority
fied team, which is a challenge,”
he says. Bigot believes that the
Commissioner for Atomic
mistakes made in the past 7 years
have helped the different partici2000-2003 Director, École
pants become aware of the need
normale supérieure, Lyon
for strong, clear management. “We
1998-2002 Research direcnow have to take advantage of this
tor, Centre National de la
Recherche Scientifique
experience in order to adjust the
1996-1997 Director-general
organisation to be more efficient.”
for research and technology,
As former head of France’s comFrench ministry of research
for atomic and alternative
and higher education
Bigot has had plenty of
1981-1993 Head of laboraopportunities
to talk to Iter particitory, Ecole Normale Supérieure
de Lyon
pants about what needs to change.


He is working on an action plan to present to the Iter
council before February. Bigot wants to streamline the
chain of command so the decision-making process is
very clear and “all the others comply with the decision
that has been taken and implement it, not argue over it
year after year, week after week”.
At present, Iter’s headquarters are in Japan and share
no daylight hours with the construction site or most of
the equipment manufacturers in Europe. Bigot was keen
to become head of the entire global project not merely of
the central management team, allowing him to restructure how management is organised. His strategy is to set
Iter up more like a large company with headquarters and
divisions that fit together so as to be “more efficiently
associated with the functioning of the project”.
Bigot hopes that setting up a more interconnected
management system will help to increase collaboration. He wants the different teams to coordinate more
on supplies. The domestic agencies are responsible for
procuring the important components needed for the
reactor, and Bigot wants them to take charge of the integration of the instruments “in such a way that we think
jointly about fabrication and integration”.
Bigot is, however, likely to run up against Iter’s established structure, which, after a decade of operation, will
be hard to change. The responsibility of procurement
was divided equally between the diffident entities when
the Iter agreement was signed in 2006 with little space
for coordination. Bigot says it would be too complicated
to change this “because it needed a lot of work to get
an agreement from the seven parliaments and similar
bodies”. However, he does wish to introduce some flexibility, and allow one willing party to help another facing
difficulty. “Flexibility is the key point in order to succeed
with this project,” he says.
To that end, Bigot says he would like to abandon his
French nationality and become an “Iter-national”, which
he defines as a member of a family devoted to the success
of the project. He will have 5 years to put Iter back on
track and set up the organisation in such a way that the
budget and planning problems can be resolved. Having
just turned 65, Bigot is keen on keeping the Iter idea
alive for the next generation, but he knows the window
for change is closing.
“If we are not able to come up with a realistic, robust
plan by the end of next year I do believe we will run into
real trouble,” he says.
More to say? Email comment@ResearchResearch.com

funding opportunities

Research Europe
8 January 2015

every new opportunity  every discipline

EU sustainable cities
JPI Urban Europe and
the Smart Cities Member
States Initiative invite
proposals for their ERA-NET
Cofund smart cities and
communities joint call,
worth up to €26 million [1].
EU innovative medicines
The Innovative Medicines
Initiative invites expressions of interest for its
fourth and third research
calls [7] and [15].
EU education policy
The Education, Audiovisual
and Culture Executive
Agency invites applications via its Erasmus+
programme for key action
three on support for policy
reform and initiatives
for policy innovation.
Each grant is worth up to
€2.5 million [13].
Biomedical grants
The Novo Nordisk
Foundation invites
applications for laureate
research grants, worth up
to DKK40 million (€5.4m)
each, and young investigator awards, worth up to
DKK20 million each [18].
Alternative fuel
The Israel Ministry of
Science, Technology and
Space invites nominations
for the Eric and Sheila
Samson prime minister's
prize for innovation in
alternative fuels for
transportation. The prize
is worth US$1 million
(€829,600) [53].
n o t t o be
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



UK Cancer Research UK bursaries
for clinicians and professions allied
to medicine 213544
EU ERA-Net SIINN joint transnational call 1166878
EU Directorate-General for Home
Affairs internal security fund police
– fighting cybercrime and child
sexual abuse 1182696
EU Directorate-General for Trade
evaluation services to the European
Commission in the field of trade
EU Directorate-General for Maritime
Affairs and Fisheries fisheries and
aquaculture monitoring and evaluation services 1182738
CA Crohn's and Colitis Foundation
of Canada innovations in inflammatory bowel disease research
EU Directorate-General for Justice
action grants to support transnational projects in the area of EU
drugs policy 1181346
UK Company of Biologists scientific
meeting grants 1173309
EU Directorate-General for Education and Culture study on comparability of language testing in Europe
UK Economic and Social Research
Council/Department for International Development joint fund
for poverty alleviation research –
outline call 2014 1176565
EU Directorate-General for
Enterprise and Industry study for a
fitness check on the construction
sector 1182904
EU Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry study on hazardous detergent mixtures contained
in soluble packaging 1182860
DE Merck Serono multiple sclerosis
innovation grant 1182663
HK Smithsonian Institution J S Lee
memorial fellowships 1182805
FR ERA-Net FLAG-ERA joint transnational call 1182373
CH European Organisation for
Nuclear Research summer student
programme for non-member states






SK Slovak Academy of Sciences
mobility programme 1182965
EU Directorate-General for Home
Affairs preventing radicalisation
to terrorism and violent extremism
EU Directorate-General for Home affairs economic and financial crime,
corruption and environmental crime
EU ERA-Net EuroTransBio transnational call for proposals 1160924
DE Merck Serono oncology innovation grant 1182480
DE Volkswagen Foundation Europe
and global challenges 212711
EU European Chemical Industry
Council aquatic community level assessment of chemical toxicity using
ecological scenarios 1182969
EU European Chemical Industry
Council external validation of tier-1
workers dermal exposure estimates
UK European Society for Paediatric
Endocrinology visiting scholarship
CH European Society for Paediatric
Infectious Diseases fellowship
awards programme 201147
GR European Society of Hypertension Talal Zein Foundation Talal
Zein research grant in hypertension
IT European University Institute
doctoral programme 1170933
UK Forensic Science Society
research scholarship 210581
DE Herzog August Bibliothek postdoctoral fellowships 1161760
CH International Bone Research
Association Robert Schenk research
prizes 199508
DE Klassik Stiftung Weimar postdoctoral awards 1161724
UK London School of Business/
University College London CleanTech challenge 1166240
UK Palestine Exploration Fund
poster grants 1170860
UK Paul Mellon Centre for Studies
in British Art junior fellowships
FR PhosAgro/UNESCO/International Union for Pure and Applied
Chemistry research grants in green
chemistry 1177485
IT Servier research grant in hypertension 192130
DE Society for Histochemistry
Robert Feulgen prize 182606
CH Spine Society of Europe grants




Online Funding Search
For full details of every funding opportunity, visit
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.

Funding search
Free text: 1234567 x


EU sustainable cities
JPI Urban Europe and the Smart Cities
Member States Initiative invite proposals for their ERA-NET Cofund smart cities
and communities joint call. This aims to
address new solutions in the urban field,
and to demonstrate the feasibility of
their implementation. Up to €26 million
is available for up to three years.
Web id: 1182197
Email: johannes.bockstefl@ffg.at
Deadline: 17 March 2015 [1]

United European Gastroenterology invites
grant applications for the following:
•educational meetings and events,
worth up to €25,000. Web id: 1179537
•long-term projects, worth up to
€100,000. Web id: 1179540
Email: office@ueg.eu
Deadline: 20 April 2015 [2]

EU investment policy
The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises invites tenders for
a study on international investments and
competitiveness to help improve the cross
and intraborder supply chains in the EU.
The tenderer will undertake a study entitled Towards a Foreign Direct Investment
Attractiveness Scoreboard. The contract
is worth €150,000.
Web id: 1183255
Email: easme-procurement@ec.europa.
Deadline: 28 January 2015 [4]

EU chemicals legislation
The Directorate-General for Enterprise
and Industry invites tenders for a study.
The tenderer will identify and evaluate
issues arising out of the implementation
of classification, labelling and packaging regulation as well as the interplay
between different pieces of chemical
legislation and provisions relating to
chemicals management in other pieces of
legislation. The contract has an estimated
value of €500,000.
Web id: 1183252
Deadline: 6 February 2015 [5]

EU waterborne transport
The Directorate-General for Mobility and
Transport invites tenders for a study on
TEN-T core network projects. The tenderer
will focus on waterborne and cross-border
projects. The contract has an estimated
value of €500,000.
Web id: 1183191
Email: move-call-2014-751@ec.europa.
Deadline: 11 February 2015 [6]

EU innovative medicines 1
The Innovative Medicines Initiative
invites expressions of interest for its
fourth call. This supports prospective,
pre-competitive pharmaceutical research
and development projects. The budget
is €1.13 million, with matching funding
from European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations companies and associated partners.

10  funding opportunities
Web id: 1183201
Email: infodesk@imi.europa.eu
Deadline: 11 February 2015 [7]

EU textile research
The Directorate-General for Enterprise
and Industry invites tenders for a study
of textile fibres. The tenderer will perform
a technical analysis of polyacrylate fibre.
The contract is worth €300,000.
Web id: 1183073
Deadline: 12 February 2015 [8]

EU education and training
The Education, Audiovisual and Culture
Executive Agency, under its Erasmus
Plus programme, invites applications for
European forward-looking cooperation
projects. Projects should provide in-depth
knowledge on target groups, learning,
teaching, training or youth work situations and effective methodologies and
tools relevant for policy makers at all
levels. The maximum grant per project
is €500,000.
Web id: 1182971
Email: eacea-policy-support@ec.europa.
Deadline: 24 February 2015 [9]

EU energy technology
The Directorate-General for Research and
Innovation invites tenders for supporting the European technology platform
on renewable heating and cooling. The
tenderer will assess and report on the
degree of implementation of five road
maps prepared for the platform; study
and report on specific aspects of the
heating and cooling sector and analyse
the behaviour of customers and the main
business models. The contract has an
estimated value of €750,000.
Web id: 1183253
Deadline: 2 March 2015 [10]

EU measure civil society
The Education, Audiovisual and Culture
Executive Agency invites proposals for
civil society projects under its Europe
for citizens programme. This supports
projects implemented by transnational
partnerships promoting opportunities
for solidarity, societal engagement and
volunteering at union level. Grants are
worth up to €150,000.
Web id: 1183155
Email: eacea-c1-civilsociety@ec.europa.
Deadline: 2 March 2015 [11]

Radiation research
The Multidisciplinary European Low Dose
Initiative invites applications for its
open project for the European radiation
research area. Projects should address
one of the following fields: low-dose risk
research; radioecology; management
of radiological or nuclear emergencies;
dosimetry. The budget is €2.5 million, and
grants are worth up to €800,000.
Web id: 1176991
Email: operra@lallemand-legros.be
Deadline: 12 March 2015 [12]

EU education policy
The Education, Audiovisual and Culture
Executive Agency invites applications via
its Erasmus+ programme for key action
three – support for policy reform and
initiatives for policy innovation. This
encourages proposals on strengthening

Research Europe, 8 January 2015
the recruitment, selection and induction
of the best and most suitable candidates
to the teaching profession through the
development of alternative pathways.
Grants are worth up to €2.5 million.
Web id: 1177959
Email: eacea-policy-networks@ec.
Deadline: 20 March 2015 [13]

EU ESF networking
The European Science Foundation invites
proposals for its European cooperation
in science and technology programme.
This supports networking activities, such
as meetings, short-term scientific missions, training schools and dissemination
activities. Proposals may request approximately €130,000 per year, normally for
four years.
Web id: 200543
Email: opencall@cost.eu
Deadline: 24 March 2015 [14]

EU innovative medicines 2
The Innovative Medicines Initiative
invites expressions of interest for its
third call. This supports prospective, precompetitive pharmaceutical research and
development. The budget is €56.43 million from the IMI2 JU, and a similar
amount is matched by European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and
Associations companies and associated
Web id: 1183200
Email: infodesk@imi.europa.eu
Deadline: 24 March 2015 [15]

EU gender equality
The Directorate-General for Justice
invites proposals for its action grants
to support projects on equal economic
independence for women and men. These
support national actors in promoting
equality between women and men, in
order to improve gender mainstreaming
in the policies and programmes of the
participating countries and to achieve
the objectives defined in the European
Strategy for equality between women and
men and the European pact for gender
equality. The budget is €3.35 million.
Individual grants cannot be lower than
Web id: 1183265
Email: ec-rec-calls@ec.europa.eu
Deadline: 31 March 2015 [16]

Intensive care medicine
The European Society of Intensive Care
Medicine invites applications for its NEXT
start-up grant. This enables newly-boardcertified intensive care physicians to
develop their independent research programmes. The grant is worth €25,000 per
year for up to two years.
Web id: 1179163
Email: research@esicm.org
Deadline: 3 May 2015 [17]

Ship-based training course
The European Science Foundation, under
its Eurofleets 2 programme, invites applications for its oceanographic ship-based
training course for postgraduate and
graduate students of marine sciences. The
course offers an introduction to practical
aspects of multidisciplinary oceanographic research at sea, education of students
in oceanographic sampling and data
analysis related to marine physics, chemistry, biology and fisheries. All travel and

accommodation expenses will be funded.
Web id: 1183280
Deadline: 8 February 2015 [17.1]

Biomedical grants
The Novo Nordisk Foundation invites
applications for the following grants:
•laureate research grants, worth up to
DKK40 million (€5.4m) each.
Web id: 1167133
•young investigator awards, worth up
to DKK20 million each. Web id: 1183066
Email: jpwi@novo.dk
Deadline: 10 February 2015 [18]

EU ESF astronomy grants
The European Science Foundation invites
proposals, under its Gaia research for
European training in astronomy programme, for exchange visits. These enable researchers to pursue collaborative
work on astronomy, astrometry, galaxy,
stellar evolution and solar system physics.
Grants provide an allowance of €1,600
per month, €400 per week or €57 per
day, plus travel costs worth up to €500,
over a period of 15 days to four months.
Web id: 1158727
No deadline [19.1]

Social science prize
UNESCO invites nominations for the Juan
Bosch prize for the promotion of social
science research on Latin America and the
Caribbean. The prize is worth US$10,000
Web id: 1166006
Email: g.solinis@unesco.org
Deadline: 2 February 2015 [20]

EU ESF volcano eruption
The European Science Foundation, under
its programme on the measuring and
modelling of volcano eruption dynamics, invites applications for the following
•science meeting grants.
Web id: 1168207
•short visits and exchange grants.
Web id: 1168200
Email: t.druitt@opgc.univ-bpclermont.fr
Deadline: 6 February 2015 [21]

EU Baltic sea cooperation
The Interreg Baltic Sea Region invites
applications for its joint call. This promotes transnational cooperation and
integration through projects addressing common key challenges and opportunities of the region. The budget is
€240.3 million.
Web id: 1183080
Email: info@interreg-baltic.eu
Deadline: 2 February 2015 [23]

to unify researchers and academics who
specialise in industrial biotechnology.
The budget is €20 million.
Web id: 1158107
Email: ptj-eraibcalloffice@fz-juelich.de
Deadline: 23 February 2015 [25]

Collective research
ERA-Net CORNET invites proposals for its
transnational call. This supports transnational cooperation projects in the field
of collective research and technological
development for the benefit of small and
medium sized enterprises. Each project
may last up to two years.
Web id: 1158495
Email: felix.rotter@aif.de
Deadline: 27 March 2015 [26]

Diabetes research
The European Foundation for the Study of
Diabetes and Boehringer Ingelheim invite
applications for the following awards:
•European diabetes basic research
programme, worth up to €100,000.
Web id: 1172206
•European diabetes clinical research
programme, worth up to €400,000.
Web id: 207310
Email: foundation@easd.org
Deadline: 1 April 2015 [27]

Gastroenterology awards
United European Gastroenterology invites
applications for its top abstract prizes.
These recognise the top five abstracts
submitted to United European Gastroenterology week. Five prizes worth €10,000
each, will be awarded.
Web id: 1171402
Deadline: 30 April 2015 [28.1]

EU ICT security and e-Health
The EU agency for Network and Information Security invites tenders for services
in the field of security and resilience in
e-health infrastructures and services.
The tenderer will identify the security
and privacy challenges in tele-medicine,
e-pharmacy and e-hospital systems and
infrastructure. The contract has an estimated value of €45,000.
Web id: 1183168
Deadline: 26 January 2015 [29]

Cloud computing
Agenzia per l'Italia Digitale invites tenders for the provision of a public-sector
cloud for Europe research and development project. The contract has an estimated value of €4 million.
Web id: 1183215
Email: c4e-tender@agid.gov.it
Deadline: 20 February 2015 [30]

EU rare diseases

EU nanomedicine

The ERA-Net E-Rare invites proposals for
its transnational research project on rare
diseases. This enables scientists in different countries to build effective collaborations on a common interdisciplinary
research project. The budget is €19.81
million for up to three years.
Web id: 1182980
Email: michaela.girgenrath@dlr.de
Deadline: 18 February 2015 [24]

ERA-Net EuroNanoMed II invites proposals for its joint transnational call. This
supports translational research projects
that combine innovative approaches in
the field of nanomedicine and enable
transnational collaboration between
public and private research groups.
Web id: 253323
Email: calloffice@euronanomed.net
Deadline: 3 March 2015 [31]

EU industrial biotechnology

EU social innovation

ERA-Net ERA-IB-2 and ERA-Net EuroTransBio invite proposals for their joint
call. This aims to generate joint European
research and development activities and

The European Investment Bank invites
proposals for its social innovation tournament. This promotes ideas and opportunities that promise substantial societal

funding opportunities  11

Research Europe, 8 January 2015
benefits. Each project will compete for
the general category's first and second
prizes of €25,000 and €10,000. Projects
falling under the special category will also
compete for a prize of €25,000.
Web id: 1172395
Email: eib.institute@eib.org
Deadline: 21 March 2015 [32]

Astronomy research
The Netherlands Institute for Radio
Astronomy (ASTRON) invites applications for its Joint Institute for Very Long
Baseline Interferometry summer student programme. This gives astronomy
students the opportunity to conduct
astronomical research under the supervision of ASTRON and JIVE staff members
at the Dwingeloo Observatory. Grants
will provide accommodation, a monthly
stipend for up to three months and full
travel reimbursement.
Web id: 1166080
Email: summerprogramme@astron.nl
Deadline: 2 February 2015 [33]

Nature protection
The Van Tienhoven Foundation for International Nature Protection invites applications for the Van Tienhoven grant. This
promotes the protection and conservation
of ecosystems and their flora and fauna,
wherever they are threatened outside
the Netherlands. The grant is worth up
to €20,000.
Web id: 1173598
Email: ralph.buij@gmail.com
Deadline: 15 February 2015 [34]

Haematology exchange
The European Hematology Association
and the Japanese Society of Hematology invite applications for their joint
fellowship exchange programme. This
enables European and Japanese research
institutes to exchange scientists and
clinicians to strengthen collaborations
and networking. Each fellowship provides
€10,000 or ¥1 million over a maximum
visit of four months.
Web id: 1167325
Deadline: 6 March 2015 [34.1]

Ageing research awards
The Network for Studies on Pensions,
Aging and Retirement (Netspar) invites
applications for its thesis awards. These
are presented for outstanding theses at
bachelor’s, master’s or research master’s
level, and for a dissertation at PhD level,
on a topic related to Netspar’s research
programme. In each of the four categories
a prize of €3,000 is available.
Web id: 1170559
Deadline: 15 October 2015 [34.2]

doctoral dissertation by a young researcher in mathematical sciences. The prize is
worth €6,000.
Web id: 1183011
Deadline: 31 January 2015 [36]

Fellowships in Sweden
The Swedish Collegium for Advanced
Study invites applications for its fellowship programme. This enables fellows
to concentrate on their own research
interests, free from the teaching and
administrative obligations of ordinary
university life.
Web id: 1166687
No deadline [36.1]

Welfare fellowship
The Swedish Research Council for Health,
Working Life and Welfare, in collaboration with Marie Curie Action, invites
applications for the Marie Curie incoming
international postdoctoral fellowship.
This enables qualified researchers to visit
Sweden to exchange knowledge and competence with the Swedish research society
within the council's research areas. The
fellowship is worth up to SEK1 million
Web id: 1172366
Email: tove.hammarberg@forte.se
Deadline: 3 March 2015 [37]

CERN student programme
The European Organisation for Nuclear
Research invites applications for its
openlab summer student programme.
This allows students wishing to work in
advanced IT projects to visit CERN, attend
lectures, and visit the accelerators and
experimental areas. The programme lasts
for nine weeks and funding includes a
CHF90 (€75) per day allowance, health
insurance and travel allowance.
Web id: 1162212
Deadline: 28 February 2015 [38]

EU solar power
ERA-NET SOLAR-ERA.NET invites proposals for the following calls:
•transnational call on concentrating
solar power. Web id: 1172318
•transnational call on photovoltaics.
Web id: 1172316
Email: info@solar-era.net
Deadline: 27 March 2015 [39]

Polio grants
The World Health Organization invites
proposals through its global polio eradication initiative. The majority of projects
receive up to US$300,000 (€248,800).
Web id: 1158074
Email: polioresearch@who.int
Deadline: 27 March 2015 [41]

Arts and humanities prize

Awards for enterprise

The Ludvig Holberg Memorial invites
nominations for the Holberg prize. This
recognises contributions to research in
the arts and humanities, social science,
law or theology. The prize is worth NOK4.5
million (€497,500).
Web id: 258060
Email: solveig.stornes@holbergprisen.
Deadline: 15 June 2015 [35]

Rolex invites applications for its awards
for enterprise. These recognise innovative
thinking and give individuals the means
to advance projects that benefit their
fields of endeavour, their communities
and the wider world. Two types of awards
are available: laureate awards, worth
CHF100,00 (€83,200) each; young laureate awards, worth CHF50,000 each.
Web id: 1160134
Deadline: 31 May 2015 [41.1]

Mathematics prize
The Polish Mathematical Society invites
applications for International Stefan
Banach prize. This recognises the best

Clinical pathology award
The Association of Clinical Pathologists
invites submissions for its career devel-

opment award. This supports a period of
service training, personal development
or study for management qualifications
beneficial to clinical pathology service
delivery. The total budget is £10,000
(€12,800) for one or more awards.
Web id: 203891
No deadline [41.2]

Mechanical engineering

Heart research awards

Higher education prize

The British Heart Foundation invites
applications for its senior clinical research
fellowships. These provide a career opportunity in an established research institution in the UK for individuals who are
expected to reach readership or chair
level within 10 years. Fellowships include
salaries, consumables and equipment.
Web id: 164988
Email: research@bhf.org.uk
No deadline [42]

Wellcome awards
The Wellcome Trust invites applications
for its principal research fellowships.
These provide long-term support for
researchers of international standing.
The fellowship consists of a salary and
full research funding for an initial period
of seven years.
Web id: 191444
Email: sciencegrants@wellcome.ac.uk
No deadline [43]

Religious studies
The All Saints Educational Trust invites
applications for its scholarships. These
enable teachers and students to pursue
further training or studies in the field of
religious education and home economics.
Web id: 1171894
Email: aset@aset.org.uk
Deadline: 1 February 2015 [44]

Headache prize
The International Headache Society
invites entries for its cephalalgia award
lecture. The recipient receives €10,000
and is asked to present the paper at
the 17th congress of the International
Headache Society.
Web id: 1170491
Email: info@i-h-s.org
Deadline: 28 February 2015 [45]

Japanese studies
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of
Japanese Arts and Cultures invites applications for the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury
fellowships. These provide recipients with
an opportunity to work in a scholarly
environment conducive to the completion
of a publication project. The one-year fellowship is worth £23,500 (€30,100), and
the short-term fellowships are worth up to
£12,000 for three to six months.
Web id: 209367
Deadline: 28 February 2015 [45.1]

Epidermolysis bullosa
The Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
Research Association invites applications
for its grants. These support research on
the biology and genetics of EB, development of therapies, wound healing
and skin cancer in EB, and clinical care
research to improve management of EB
through symptom relief. Grants are worth
up to €80,000 per year for three years.
Web id: 199894
Email: clare.robinson@debra.org.uk
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [46]

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers
invites nominations for the James Clayton
prize. The prize is worth up to £10,000
Web id: 252788
Email: awards@imeche.org
Deadline: 31 March 2015 [47]

The Society for Research into Higher
Education, in collaboration with the Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, invites
applications for its prize for newer
researchers. This provides support for
early stage researchers by enabling them
to undertake a project or develop skills
which will help advance their career. Up
to three prizes, worth £3,000 (€3,800)
each, are available.
Web id: 1161423
Deadline: 31 March 2015 [47.1]

Wellcome fellowships 1
The Wellcome Trust invites applications
for the following fellowships:
•research career development fellowships in basic biomedical science, in
collaboration with Science Foundation
Ireland and the Health Research Board.
Web id: 253970
•the Sir Henry Dale fellowships, in collaboration with the Royal Society, worth
£18,500 (€23,800). Web id: 1164964
Email: sciencegrants@wellcome.ac.uk
Deadline: 17 April 2015 [48]

Wellcome fellowships 2
The Wellcome Trust invites applications
for its postdoctoral training fellowships
for clinicians. Fellowships are tenable for
two to four years, with total funding of up
to £400,000 (€513,600).
Web id: 1173654
Email: sciencegrants@wellcome.ac.uk
Deadline: 18 May 2015 [50]

rest of world
Child development
The Creswick Foundation invites applications for its fellowships in child and
adolescent development. These enable
experts to travel and expand their experience in the field. At least two grants are
available for up to three months.
Web id: 1171922
Email: jkimpton@bigpond.net.au
Deadline: 30 June 2015 [51]

Anti-doping research
The World Anti-Doping Agency invites
applications for its research grants. Priority is given to projects with direct and
imminent applicability.
Web id: 197942
Deadline: 15 February 2015 [52]

Alternative fuel
The Israel Ministry of Science, Technology
and Space invites nominations for the Eric
and Sheila Samson prime minister's prize
for innovation in alternative fuels for
transportation. This is awarded for global
innovation or a scientific or technological
breakthrough in the field. The prize is
worth US$1 million (€829,600).
Web id: 1173524
Email: pazb@most.gov.il
Deadline: 15 February 2015 [53]

12  funding opportunities

Research Europe, 8 January 2015



Interoperable languages *ESA

Dana Foundation clinical neuroscience
research grants
Web id: 207064
No deadline [60]

The European Space Agency invites tenders for an interoperable monitoring and
control languages ecosystem. The tenderer will explore new emerging platforms
and methods that will enable coexistence
of multiple operation languages. The
contract is worth up to €500,000. Ref:
14.112.02. Deadline: 30 January 2015

Data downlinks *ESA
The European Space Agency invites tenders for a test-bed for channel modelling
in Earth observation Ka-band data downlinks systems. The tenderer will perform
an experimental assessment of channel
conditions and operational parameters
for the implementation of high data rate
downlinks for Earth observation missions operating at 26 GHz. The contract
is worth up to €200,000. Ref: 14.1EE.17.
Deadline: 2 February 2015

Extravehicular activity *ESA
The European Space Agency invites
tenders for the concept development
of extravehicular activity operations in
European Astronaut Centre's neutral
buoyancy facility for extraterrestrial
surface explorations. The tenderer will
conduct a feasibility study of EVA simulations in the neutral buoyancy facility for
moon surface and asteroid explorations
and the development of EVA simulation
concepts for typical EVA tasks in such
exploration scenarios. The contract is
worth up to €200,000. Ref: 14.197.21.
Deadline: 6 February 2015

Solar cell research *ESA
The European Space Agency invites tenders for enhanced coating technologies for next generation solar cells.
The tenderer will investigate sputtering
techniques and evaluate their effectiveness compared to state-of-the-art
e-beam evaporation techniques in several areas, such as the application of
the antireflective coating, front and
backside metallisation, and passivation
layers, which become important as the
cell concepts get thinner. The contract
is worth up to €500,000. Ref: 14.1TT.28.
Deadline: 20 February 2015

High power x-band uplink *ESA
The European Space Agency invites tenders for a high power X-band uplink for
deep space missions. The tenderer will
study the increase of uplink power in the
ESA deep space antennas. The activities
to be performed will focus on the following aspects: verify the limitations of the
present antenna design and identify the
critical items that need to be modified in
order to handle 100 kW radio frequency
power; preliminary design of the critical
components identified in the previous
WP1; system analysis, including all RF
active and passive components, with
performance and interface specifications,
as well as critical cooling and alternating current power aspects. This activity
is restricted to non-prime contractors,
including small and medium enterprises.
The contract is worth up to €500,000. Ref:
14.112.11. Deadline: 20 February 2015

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

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
International industry discovery and
development partnerships
Web id: 145706
No deadline [61]
Department of Defense medical research
and development programme team performance training research initiative
Web id: 1183063
Deadline: 22 January 2015 [62]
Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Edmond J Safra fellowship in movement disorders
Web id: 1183143
Deadline: 28 January 2015 [63]
World Bank impact evaluation proposals on early childhood development
– promoting the cognitive and socioemotional development of children aged
three to six
Web id: 1183135
Deadline: 30 January 2015 [64]
World Bank impact evaluation proposals
on non-state actors in basic education
– promoting expansion and quality of
Web id: 1183136
Deadline: 30 January 2015 [65]
National Multiple Sclerosis Society commercial opportunities for neuroprotection and neurogeneration in multiple
Web id: 1183276
Deadline: 13 February 2015 [66]
World Wood Day Foundation research
Web id: 1177022
Deadline: 15 February 2015 [67]
Leukemia Research Foundation Hollis
Brownstein new investigator research
Web id: 260187
Deadline: 17 February 2015 [68]
Sigma Theta Tau International/
Emergency Nurses Association Foundation grant
Web id: 210722
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [69]
Smithsonian Institution Engen conservation fellowship programme
Web id: 1183262
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [70]
Society of Economic Geologists Foundation Hickok-Radford fund
Web id: 194301
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [71]
Society of Economic Geologists Foundation Hugh E McKinstry fund
Web id: 209467
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [72]
Society of Economic Geologists Foundation Hugo T Dummett mineral discovery
Web id: 209463
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [73]
Society of Economic Geologists Foundation Newmont student grant contribution
Web id: 209464
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [74]
Society of Economic Geologists Foundation SEG Canada Foundation fund
Web id: 194344
Deadline: 1 March 2015 [75]

policy diary
  9 Horizon 2020 Infoday: Fast
Track to Innovation Pilot,
Brussels, Belgium.
14 EU-US Innovation Conference,
Brussels, Belgium. To 15.
15 Recode Final Conference: Open
Access to Research Data as a
Driver for Open Science,
Athens, Greece. To 16.
21 Forward Visions on the European Research Area, Brussels,
Belgium. To 22.
26 Seminar on how to Apply for EU
Structural Funds for R&D, Brussels, Belgium. To 27.
27 High-level Conference on European Space Policy, Brussels,
Belgium. To 28.
  2 Horizon 2020 Infoday: Societal
Challenge 4, Transport. Brussels, Belgium.
  3 Academic Cooperation Association: Seminar on Erasmus+,
Brussels, Belgium.
  4 Challenges for the New Cohesion Policy in 2014-20, Riga,
Latvia. To 6.
12 Horizon 2020 Infoday: Smart
Cities and Communities,
Brussels, Belgium.
14 International Conference on
Environmental Science and
Development, Amsterdam, The
Netherlands. To 15.
24 The Reindustrialisation of
Europe, Brussels, Belgium.
25 The Next Horizon of Technology
Assessment Conference, Berlin,
Germany. To 27.
  • JRC Workshop on Technology
Transfer for Advanced Manufacturing, Brussels, Belgium.
26 JRC Workshop on New Narratives for Innovation, Brussels,
Belgium. To 27.
  2 EU Science: Global Challenges,
Global Collaboration, Brussels,
Belgium. To 6.
  5 The European Circular Economy
conference, Brussels, Belgium.

ISSN 1366-9885
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analysis 13

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


Building bridges
The Global Universities Network for Innovation was set up a quarter-century ago to
build stronger links between universities in developed and developing countries.
But as Cristina Gallardo reports, it is still struggling to make an impact.
In Barcelona back in 1999, Unesco and the Tokyo-based
United Nations University set up the Global Universities
Network for Innovation, to help universities help each
other to get more involved in policy formulation at home.
The network has since expanded to involve more than
200 institutions in 70 countries. It meets every 2 years
in Barcelona and has produced five hefty reports on
how universities can best engage in policy, particularly
regarding social responsibility and sustainability. Yet 25
years on, participants still seem a little unsure in what
ways Guni has made a difference.
One of its most obvious characteristics is its heterogeneity. Angels Cortina of the Polytechnic University of
Catalonia in Barcelona (UPC), a Guni coordinator, says that
its members are very different in terms of size, incomes,
structure, or location. “We are not looking for the universities leading the rankings or those with a specific
political alignment,” she says. None of the UK members,
for instance, are based in London or boast large budgets.
The explicit goal of Guni is to help universities influence ministers to develop higher education policies that
will help meet the UN’s Millennium Goals. This set of
eight development objectives agreed in 2000 range from
environmental sustainability and gender equality to poverty eradication and universal primary school education.
Xavier Grau, academic director of Guni and former
rector of the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona,
Catalonia, says that members in developing regions
are usually more heavily involved with Guni because
their home countries are directly engaged in meeting
the Millennium Goals. The universities in rich countries, however, have more experience in policy-making,
creating scope for information exchange through the
network. “If you, as a university, do not participate
in the design of policies, you will always be dragging
behind and facing the consequences,” Grau adds.
Unlike membership organisations such as the European
University Association or the International Association of
Universities, Guni doesn’t have the money to set up shared
resources. Grau says that its objective, instead, is to provide
space for discussion of relevant topics. The conclusions can
be picked up by other organisations later, he says.
Guni has had a rocky ride, organisationally speaking.
Until 2009, Guni was the responsibility of UPC. But the
impact of the economic crisis led the university to ask
for help to keep running the project. The association

of Catalan public universities, ACUP, then decided to
take the reins of Guni, and become part of the managing board together with representatives of Unesco and
the United Nations University. This gave the eight public universities in Catalonia an opportunity to increase
their visibility in education policy debates globally. Guni
is a worldwide association organised into five regional
offices: Europe, Americas, Asia and Pacific, Africa and
the Middle East.
The five main reports on the state of higher education
in the world that Guni has published so far have dealt
with funding, quality of higher education, social and
human development, sustainability, and civil engagement. Grau says that national governments are already
paying attention to these reports, but admits there’s no
real data on their impact. “This type of work never has an
immediate repercussion, its impact is much more latent,
it needs to be available to inform decisions,” he says.
Daniela Tilbury, dean of sustainability at the
University of Gloucestershire in the UK, says Guni has to
compete with several other national and European associations that are also focused on social responsibility,
such as the Copernicus Alliance and the Environmental
Association for Universities and Colleges. But she says
that Guni has three main strengths: its worldwide scope,
its ability to gather universities with common interests, and the high quality of its work. “There are very
few international forums that have social responsibility
as their main priority,” she says. General associations
serve to bring people together, but don’t necessarily
capture their ideas in a way that policymakers can use.
Its modest annual budget, of a few hundred
thousand euros, is another limitation. Guni is
jointly funded by Spain, the regional government of Catalonia, the city of Barcelona, and
Universia, a group of universities supported
by the Santander bank. Membership is free to
the universities. Tilbury argues that a bigger
budget would allow the network to organise
more meetings and invest more in promoting its reports. “Its conferences and reports
are through and rigorous,” she says. “But I am
not sure how many universities in Europe are
aware of them.”
More to say? Email comment@Research

‘This type
of work
never has an
its impact is
much more

14  news

Research Europe, 8 January 2015

uk & ireland

Oxford, Cambridge and elite London
universities pull ahead in research shake-out
The so-called golden triangle of elite universities in
London and southern England are likely to prosper at
the expense of the rest of the UK, following the results
of the UK’s first research evaluation exercise to include
evidence of the impact of research.
The University of Oxford tops the Power Ratings
in a league table compiled by Research Europe’s sister
publication Research Fortnight to indicate the probable financial consequences of the Research Excellence
Framework 2014. The results of the REF will be used to
allocate almost £2 billion annually in research funding.
University College London has knocked the University
of Cambridge out of second place in the RF league table,
largely by increasing the number of staff it submitted to
the exercise.
The University of Edinburgh has climbed from fifth
to fourth, overtaking the University of Manchester.
Imperial College London is at number six. King’s College
London has boosted both the quality and the volume of
its research and marched up four places to seventh spot
above the Universities of Nottingham, Bristol and Leeds.
The full results of the 2014 REF, published on
18 December, revealed that 30 per cent of the research
submitted to the exercise was deemed to be “world leading” or 4* quality and a further 46 per cent was judged to
be “internationally excellent” or 3* quality. The research
of more than 52,000 academics from 154 institutions
was reviewed in 36 different units of assessment.

in brief

Research councils under review
again as structure questioned
The UK government has launched
a review of how the research
councils fund scientific research just 8 months after the
triennial review of the councils found them to be fit for
purpose. In summer 2015, the review, to be chaired by
Royal Society president Paul Nurse, will report on fundamental questions such as whether the councils should
be expected to align more closely to national priorities.
EU cash for UK universities continues to grow
UK institutions received a total of £690 million in EU
research grants in 2012-13, according to a report from
the vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK. The amount
of research funding that UK universities receive from
the EU has grown every year for the past 10 years, from a
starting point of £221m in 2003-4.
Science strategy has no word on grand challenges
The UK’s long-awaited science and innovation strategy
for the period up to 2020-21 reveals that no decisions

by Adam Smith


Three-quarters of UK universities had at least 10 per
cent of their work graded as world leading and the same
proportion had almost half their research deemed to be
internationally excellent.
Universities with medical schools are predicted to fare
well in future funding allocations, as are those with science departments. Even if medicine and science were
treated in the same way as the social sciences and arts
and humanities, they would still take a bigger share of
the funding pot.
According to Research Fortnight’s calculations, almost
30 per cent of research funding would be spent on biomedical sciences and more than 25 per cent would go
on the physical sciences and engineering. Social sciences would take another 25 per cent, leaving the arts
and humanities with less than 20 per cent, based on the
quality and volume of research undertaken.
The overall REF scores were determined by the quality
of research outputs (65 per cent), impact (20 per cent)
and environment (15 per cent). It was the first time that
institutions had been asked to demonstrate the impact of
their research. The results reveal that the 10 institutions
with the highest RF Impact Power Ratings were the same
as the overall top 10. Likewise, those determined to have
the best RF Environment Power Ratings—the best places
in which to do research—were also the same top 10.
have been made on additional projects to be supported
under the government’s £2.9 billion grand challenges
fund. So far only £1.8bn of this cash has been allocated, and no decisions will be made on the rest until after
the 2015 budget. There are five themes to the strategy:
excellence, agility, collaboration, place and openness.
Extra cash relieves immediate crisis at Kew
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has offered an extra
£2.3 million to maintain a level budget for the Royal
Botanic Gardens at Kew for a second year until April 2016.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
had said that its annual grant-in-aid for Kew would be cut
by £1.5m in 2014-15 and cut again in 2015-16.
Charitable status best for NERC centres
The Natural Environment Research Council has
announced that the “best option” for the National
Oceanography Centre and the Centre for Ecology and
Hydrology would be for them to become charitable companies. It says an “in-depth process” will take place to
test whether they are ready for the change.

  news  15

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


Germany agrees higher education pact
The German government has adopted a higher education
funding agreement called the Hochschulpakt, which will
provide €23 billion to universities and research organisations between 2016 and 2020.
The total is divided into higher education spending of
about €19bn and research funding of close to €4bn. The
Hochschulpakt outlines spending by the federal government, as well as research areas of special interest.
Public research organisations such as the Leibniz
Association, the Helmholtz Association and the Max
Planck Society will get a 3 per cent funding increase
every year for the duration of the fund. Money for overheads from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft,
Germany’s largest public funder, will increase from 20
per cent to 22 per cent of project costs, the government
announced. Of this, 20 per cent will be supplied by the
federal government and 2 per cent will come from the
German states.
Outlining its priorities, the government said it would
like to spend more money on raising the international
profile of German universities. It also wants more collaboration with industry, as well as better career and
personnel management at research institutions, accord-

in brief

by Inga Vesper


ing to Johanna Wanka, Germany’s research minister.
“The Hochschulpakt contributes to the creation of
the professionals we will need in the coming decades,”
Wanka said at the deal’s launch on 11 December. “It
also provides sustainable support for research and
innovation, and helps to attract the smartest people to
Voices from academia were less enthusiastic. The HRK,
Germany’s national association of rectors, said the deal
would not be enough to ensure that universities in poorer
federal states could stay competitive. Horst Hippler, the
HRK’s president, said that federal states must be forced to
increase their contribution to universities.
Hippler also took issue with the DFG’s promised
increase for overheads financing, saying that the extra
2 per cent would not have the desired impact. “When
universities start a research project, the costs are usually hovering around 40 to 70 per cent of direct research
costs,” he said at an HRK meeting in Berlin. “If less than
half of this is covered by overheads funding, it gives universities an unsolvable problem.”

Universities wary of budget
France’s national council for
higher education and research
has called for radical changes to
the higher education budget, despite assurances that
last-minute cuts threatened by the National Assembly
will not go through. The CNESER, which represents universities and researchers, published a motion on 15
December saying that reversing €70 million of cuts was
not enough to prevent the budget from weakening universities.

alised medical treatments, including the impact on data
gathering and protection, and on clinical trials.

DFG rewards internationalisation
Germany’s largest public research funder has awarded three universities €75,000 each for their work to
attract international research talent. The Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft says these awards are the first
in a series aimed at encouraging universities to become
more internationally competitive. The winners were the
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Heidelberg University
and the University of Tübingen.

State offers mentoring scheme
North Rhine-Westphalia’s science minister has launched
an initiative to lower university dropout rates. The
Aachener Mentoring Model encourages academic
researchers to mentor students at their institution. Svenja
Schulze, North Rhine-Westphalia’s science minister, said
the initiative was intended to reduce the number of students who abandon their degrees due to stress.

Academies back personalised medicine
More money should be spent on finding the causes of
complex diseases that require personalised medical
treatment, according to Germany’s science academies.
They say that more research is needed to find biomarkers, understand disease and treatment progress, and
create awareness of the ethical consequences of person-

Cohesion money allocated for R&D
Spain’s ministry for economy and competitiveness has
said it will allocate €193 million of EU funds to 65 industrial research and innovation projects. The money, from the
European Regional Development Funds, will be administered by Spain’s Centre for Industrial and Technological
Development. A total of 148 companies are involved, more
than half of which are small businesses.

Francophone countries plan digital expansion
Representatives from 22 French-speaking countries have
agreed a joint strategy for digital learning at a meeting
in Paris. Participants proposed the creation of joint
massive open online courses, and other forms of digital
learning that are adaptable to student needs. The ideas
from the meeting will be developed into a joint strategy,
to be published in June 2015.

16  news

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


Applied science universities struggle to hire
qualified teaching staff
Denmark’s universities of applied sciences are having
difficulty recruiting enough teaching staff with PhDs
after embarking on a strategy to increase research-based
teaching, a report has found.
University Colleges Denmark, an association of universities of applied sciences, presented a “PhD strategy”
in 2012 that included increasing the number of teaching staff with PhDs to 50 per cent of all staff by 2022.
However, Nordic research consultancy Damvad has
found that 1,700 additional lecturers with PhDs need
to be hired to reach that goal. Due to a lack of suitable
candidates there could be a shortfall of between 900 and
1,300 PhD-holders, the consultancy reports.
Efforts to increase the number of staff members
with PhDs are connected to a government initiative to
increase research in applied professions, such as nursing
and engineering. The government began distributing
funds to universities of applied sciences in 2013 to hire
more PhD holders, and passed a law stating that universities of applied sciences must do more research and
transfer it into practice through their programmes.
It will not be possible to recruit all of the missing
teaching staff with PhDs from outside, according to the

by Jenny Maukola


association’s report, published in December, because
universities of applied sciences must maintain a balance
between new and existing staff. As a result, 400 of the
existing teaching staff in universities of applied sciences
must obtain a PhD by 2022.
One of the main problems in achieving this is limited
access to funding for PhDs in applied research, the report
found. The main public funding agencies for applied PhDs
are; the Phd-rådet Uddannelsesforskning (for PhDs in educational research), which has about 12 or 13 scholarships
a year; an industrial PhD programme, which funds up to
10 PhDs a year; and the Danish Council for Independent
Research which funds between seven and nine PhDs a year.
To increase the number of staff members with relevant PhDs, the report recommends getting universities
of applied sciences more involved in applied PhD training, and making more funding available. Also, bachelors
students should be able to apply for grants for PhD programmes before completing a masters degree, the report
suggests. A part-time PhD training programme could
also be established for existing staff, it says.

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Research Europe, 8 January 2015

  analysis  17


Iceland wants to reform and modernise its innovation system against a backdrop of
post-recession austerity. Jenny Maukola examines how the island nation plans to
juggle internationalisation with a renewed focus on local research.
A remote location, disconnected from the rest of Europe
by frosty seas, and the locals’ fierce sense of independence can often keep Iceland off the European radar.
When the country’s banking system collapsed in 2008
and plunged the economy into recession, hesitant
debates flared up about the need for Iceland to join the
EU. But 5 years on, Iceland is once again determined to
remain independent, having suspended, in 2013, the EU
membership application that it started in 2009.
A swift economic recovery followed the crisis.
Iceland’s government enforced fierce spending cuts
after 2008, ranging from 15 to 20 per cent in research
and higher education. It was not easy, although it was
more successful than in many other European countries.
“[The crisis] was a shock to our society and citizens,
we didn’t know what was happening or what would happen,” Hellen Gunnarsdóttir, director of education and
science at Iceland’s ministry of education, told Research
Europe. She says that government cuts went on until
2013, but that spending increased again after that.
The crisis was a wake-up call for Iceland to revamp
its research and education structures. Reports from
the OECD and the EU following the recession found the
Icelandic system was fragmented and underdeveloped.
In 2009, the OECD assessed Iceland’s research and
innovation policy and questioned the need for seven
universities serving a population of just 323,000. Its
report suggested that a move towards a system with two
universities could be more efficient.
But restructuring is easier said than done. Iceland’s
higher education system has seen several mergers, including Reykjavik University merging with the Technical
University of Iceland in 2005. But four of the country’s
seven universities are located in the countryside and have
deep roots in their regions that cannot be ignored. They
have resisted mergers until now, and unless a common
outlook is established, it will be difficult to realise the
two-university system proposed by the OECD.
In September 2014, Erac, the European Research
Area and Innovation Committee, reported that Iceland
should focus on its strengths and prioritise more. Back
in 2007 the government had identified research priorities including natural resources, health, the strengths of
being a small nation, and industrial innovation.
Ásdís Jónsdóttir, an adviser at the ministry of education, explains that the government is looking to address
the questions raised by these reports in a soon-to-be-

published policy for the next 5 years. “Some of the
questions concern the structure of the system and how
to tackle fragmentation,” she says.
First, the ministry wants to create a central system to
gather information. At the moment, universities have
their own performance-based systems. Some researchers’
salaries are tied to their publication output, whereas others depend on the performance of each department. “We
are aiming for a more centralised information system to
be able to better evaluate research,” says Gunnarsdóttir.
Jónsdóttir adds that the focus is on “establishing reliable
information about our universities and research institutions, including publishing and other activities”.
The government is in the process of buying a research
information system, such as the Cristin system used in
Norway, or Pure, from publisher Elsevier. Jónsdóttir says
that the aim is to have a system up and running in 2015,
after which the government can start thinking about
linking research funding to performance.
I celand’ s aims are outlined in its strategy for science and technology published in October 2014. Goals
include increasing research spending to 3 per cent of
GDP by 2016, up from 2.7 per cent in 2014. This means
increasing industry spending by 5 billion Icelandic
krónur (€30m) and public spending by kr2.8bn over the
next 2 years. The government wants to achieve increased
industry spending through tax incentives that will be set
up in 2015.
Another goal is to increase Icelandic participation
in international programmes, such as those run by the
Nordic research funder Nordforsk and the EU’s Horizon
2020. No national system has been established to help scientists prepare Horizon 2020 applications
yet, unlike in other Nordic countries. It is,
however, possible to apply for small grants
from the national research funder Rannís,
to help researchers with applications.
It could take a while to get the government’s science plan off the ground, but
the benefits would include greater economic resilience and competitiveness.
And the plan may result in closer ties with
the EU, which could keep Iceland’s application warm for another day.
Something to Add? Email comment@

the need
for seven
serving a
population of
just 323,000.’

18  news

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


Report finds flaws in US postdoc system
A study by the United States’ National Academies recommends making significant changes to the ways
postdoctoral researchers are trained and paid.
The report from the National Academy of Sciences, the
National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of
Medicine says the postdoctoral system needs to make
training and mentoring its primary focus. The authors
also recommend raising postdocs’ salaries to reflect their
experience and contributions.
The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited is a follow-up
report on earlier studies of postdoctoral researchers, the
most recent of which was released in 2000. The report’s
authors estimate that there are between 60,000 and
100,000 postdoc researchers in the US; more than ever
before. Almost 40 per cent of doctoral degree recipients who said they had made plans were going on to
a postdoc position. The authors say the length of time
postdocs stay in their position appears to be increasing, although they note that the evidence is not entirely
clear on this point.
Gregory Petsko, who chaired the panel that produced
the report and is a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical
College in New York, has suggested funders may have
some power to fix the system. He said one efficient
action funders could take would be stipulating higher

in brief

NIH ends study on children’s
The National Institutes of Health
has said it is cancelling a large
longitudinal study of children in the US after a negative
review. The National Children’s Study was set up to track
100,000 American children from birth until the age of
21. But since it was suggested in 2000, the study has
cost $1.2 billion and still hasn’t fully started, as enrolment and methodology problems were never solved,
according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.
2015 budget details emerge
Full details have been published of the budgets approved
by Congress last week for NASA and the National
Institutes of Health. NASA, whose science directorate
got a 2 per cent budget increase, was directed to spend
money on two missions that the White House had sought
to cancel. Congress increased the NIH’s budget, but
below the rate of inflation at only 0.5 per cent. It did,
however, give special attention to the NIH’s National
Institute on Aging, which received a 2.4 per cent raise.
Goalposts shifted for Google XPRIZE
Competitors have been given another year to try to win
a Google-funded prize for a safe moon landing and short
robot drive. The XPRIZE Foundation said that it was

by Sam Lemonick


minimum postdoc salaries. Not only would that better
compensate postdocs for their work, it would have the
added effect of reducing the number of positions labs or
institutions could offer, pushing candidates onto other
The report also urges the National Science Foundation
to start collecting the types of data the authors looked at
so that better decisions can be made in the future. Past
recommendations to the NSF about data collection have
gone unheeded, the report suggests, so institutions or
professional societies may have to step in to fill this role.
“If these recommendations were to be implemented
now, I imagine it would dramatically affect how graduate students prepare for job opportunities. Postdoc
positions shouldn’t be the de facto next step,” said
Danielle Lee, a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell
Implementing the recommendations would
require cooperation from funders, institutions and
professional societies, the authors say. It would also necessitate every institution having a dedicated office to help
postdocs and to coordinate with funders and other
outside groups.
extending the deadline for landing on the moon until
2016. This is the second time the deadline has been
extended. Originally announced in 2007, the Google
Lunar XPRIZE will award $25 million to the first team to
land a rover on the moon and drive it 500 meters.
Congress approves surgeon general
The Senate has confirmed Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, after the position remained vacant for 17 months
following dissent brought on by remarks the nominee
made on gun-related violence. Murthy arrives in the
position from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
He told the Senate during his confirmation hearing that
he would focus on disease prevention, specifically on
reducing obesity and tobacco use.
Biologists seek clarity on pathogen work
Two groups of biologists have called on the US government to clarify and reconsider its decisions to restrict
research on pathogens. The Federation of American
Societies for Experimental Biology and the National
Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity said they wanted
the White House to clear up confusion and allow valuable research to proceed. Botulinum toxin, avian flu
and anthrax are among the targets of policies that have
paused federal funding until stricter safety standards are

news  19

Research Europe, 8 January 2015


Muslim countries establish science-religion
task force to develop research
An international group has met to discuss how universities in the Islamic world can balance religion and science
and also improve their standing in research.
The 11-strong task force, chaired by Malaysia’s chief
science adviser Zakri Abdul Hamid, gathered for the first
time in Kuala Lumpur on 16 December. It has been set up
to make recommendations on how universities should
foster academic freedom and build a narrative of science
that fits with strong religious beliefs.
“It is vitally important that the Islamic world critically evaluates its own weaknesses and strengths in this
important area,” said Zakri in a statement.
The group is expected to discuss why Islamic countries have experienced a lack of progress in science,
and how universities can help to address this problem.
This will involve examining the relative balance of
basic and applied research programmes, as well as the
relationship with religion and the barriers this places
on science teaching.
“The relative weakness of our institutions in higher
education, particularly in science, cannot always be
attributed to lack of funding or inadequate administrative systems; pedagogy and other factors need to be
investigated,” said Nidhal Guessoum of the American

in brief

China to spend $3bn on projects
in central and eastern Europe
The Chinese government has set
aside $3 billion (€2.46bn) for
infrastructure and energy projects in central and eastern
Europe. The fund is intended to reduce the cost of loans
to help central and eastern European countries access
money for development projects. It was announced by
Chinese premier Li Keqiang alongside other plans for
better cooperation, including reciprocal migration and
digital connections.
EU allocates funds for African grants initiative
The second phase of the African Union research
grants scheme has been awarded €20 million by the
EU. Funding for the initiative, which will be allocated
through the Pan-African Programme, was announced at
the end of 2014. An EU official says two calls for proposals will be issued in 2015 and 2018, each with a total of
€10m to spend on 3-year projects.
Russia-US relations ‘more important than ever’
The United States will continue to foster its scientific
relationship with Russia despite increasing tension
between the countries, a US diplomat is reported to
have said. Speaking at a US-Russia research symposium

by Laura Greenhalgh


University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, who
helped to form the group.
Other members of the task force include Lee Yee
Cheong, the chairman of the Unesco International
Science, Technology and Innovation Centre in Malaysia,
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, the president of the International
Association of Universities, and Moneef Zou’bi, the director-general of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences.
The group, which receives funding from the John
Templeton Foundation in the United States, and is also
supported by the online news site Muslim-science.com
that aims to increase the profile of science in Islamic
countries, is due to publish its findings in a report in
June 2015.
“There has been virtually no conversation around
highly important issues of science and society within the
Islamic world,” said Muslim-science.com founder Athar
Osama, a science policy analyst and also a co-founder
of the task force. “Without addressing these in a critical manner, we will continue to approach science in a
piecemeal fashion without making our mark or benefiting from science development.”
in Moscow, Jeffrey Sexton, the minister-counsellor for
public affairs at the US embassy, described relations
between scientists in the two countries as “more important than ever”, according to a statement from the
Skolkovo innovation park.
Japan pledges to improve research integrity
Scientists and universities in Japan have set out steps
to improve controls on misconduct and fraud, as part
of a joint statement on research integrity. In the statement, four of the country’s associations commit to
“upholding the highest standards” for research, which
will include improving their response to misconduct.
The document, published on 11 December, comes at
a time when reports of misconduct in the country are
said to be increasing.
Geneticist joins NZ funding board
New Zealand’s government has appointed the geneticist Parry Guilford to its science board, which allocates
research funding. Guilford, who leads the cancer genetics laboratory at the University of Otago, received the Sir
Charles Hercus Medal and the Health Research Council
of New Zealand’s Beaven Medal in 2014 in recognition
of his research. He is also chief scientific officer of the
biotechnology company Pacific Edge.

20  inside out

Research Europe, 8 January 2015

In, out, in, out Rumours have surfaced on Twitter this
week that the UK Conservative party may be planning
to run any referendum on British membership of the EU
on the same basis as last September’s Scottish referendum—namely, that UK citizens living in other European
countries would be unable to vote. An obvious corollary
of that would be that EU citizens from other EU nations
living in the UK would be allowed to vote—doubtless
increasing support for EU membership in areas with
diverse populations, such as London. The idea seems
far-fetched at the moment but may provide a flavour
of the procedural battles to come, if May’s UK election
returns a government committed to an EU referendum.
The innovation game The Grenoble École de Management
in France has launched what it describes as the first
serious board-game based around innovation in higher
education. The Dean’s Game—How to design the school
of the future was devised, the institution says, so that
students, lecturers and alumni in various fields can visualise their own ideas for what their universities should
become. Now, if only they’d told us before Christmas.
Jamming Chris Shilling, a pharmaceutical consultant,
has revealed that his long and fruitful collaboration with
Pfizer, a biopharmaceutical company, first got going
when he was persuaded to join a rock band and played

alongside Pfizer’s head of European research. Shillings
offered the example at a Responsible Partnership event
in Brussels last December, to illustrate how fruitful
research collaboration can spring from the unlikeliest
of sources.
Chain of hype The much-maligned media usually gets
the blame for all the hype surrounding science these
days. But a study by researchers at Cardiff University,
published this month in the British Medical Journal,
tells a different story. It finds that the excess promotion
occurs at all levels in the news creation chain, starting
with the scientists themselves and including the institutions aiming to raise their profile. About 40 per cent of
press releases issued by universities in the study contained claims not included in the journal articles they
were based on.
Feliz navi-what? Of the glut of electronic cards received
over the festive period, one that stood out was sent
along by the European Parliament. The online card also
doubles as a game, in which players have to guess the
correct language for the greeting Happy New Year, as
written in all 24 of the EU’s official languages. But the
two-minute time limit offered proved outrageously inadequate. Hopefully next year it will be extended —either
that, or our language skills will have to improve.

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