Updated daily at www.ResearchResearch.

2 April 2015

Flagship EU projects come
under fire – p2, 4, 5
ERA Science needs diversity – p6
Germany How R&D subsidies
kept the country afloat – p8

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

by Jenny Maukola


eration in Horizon 2020, the Commission should focus
on translating its strategic aims into concrete details
in the 2016-17 work programmes. As it stands, there is
not much information on how its international strategy will be implemented, he says, and the Commission
must guarantee “the right instruments, actions and
research proposals” to help participants.
The Commission has advised the BRIC countries
to set up specific funds to finance their participation. But countries with a change in funding status
are not the only ones struggling to access the programme. Moon Jung Kang, a researcher at the Korea
Institute of Science and Technology in Brussels,
says the Commission should increase its use of soft
approaches, including networking and support services. Between 2008 and 2013, South Korea participated
in four EU capacity-building programmes, but these
were all project-based initiatives. “It’s a pity that all
the joint calls, communication channels and helpdesks have to be stopped after each project,” she says.
Andrée says the Commission is considering setting
up a support facility for non-EU members who want
to take part in the 2016-17 work programmes. And
at a ScienceBusiness event in Brussels on 24 March,
Kostas Glinos, the head of strategy for international
cooperation at DG Research, said the Commission was
seeking additional mechanisms to set up joint projects with China and the United States. However, a
Commission spokeswoman said that no details will be
available until the results of the first annual review of
Horizon 2020, due before June, are confirmed.
The message from advisers is that,
whatever strategy the Commission
Every new opportunity
opts for, it needs to be communicated
for research funding
clearly and with accompanying pracfrom every sponsor in
tical details—or people will perceive
the EU, US & beyond
that the Commission is not fully comIndependent news
mitted to the issue. “There has to be a
clear message from the top that this is
Direct from Brussels
being taken seriously,” says Horvat.
Issue No. 406

2  editorial

Research Europe, 2 April 2015
Edited by Colin Macilwain
Tel: +44 20 7216 6500
Fax: +44 20 7216 6501
Unit 111, 134-146 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3AR

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

“I am sure there will be some people in
Brussels who will breathe a sigh of relief if
I’m not here.”
At a European Council press conference, UK
prime minister David Cameron acknowledges
that there is widespread frustration at his
plan to renegotiate the UK’s membership if
he is re-elected in May. EurActiv, 20/3/15.
“I was a bit puzzled when opinion-makers
started saying that the money had been
lost. That isn’t the case.”
Research commissioner Carlos Moedas reiterates his claim that using Horizon 2020
funds for the European Fund for Strategic
Investments will provide more money for
science overall by stimulating private investment. Nature, 23/3/15.
“We want Greece to be strong economically, we want Greece to grow and above
all we want Greece to overcome its high
German chancellor Angela Merkel promises
that there is still an appetite for cooperation
with Greece, despite disagreement over the
country’s efforts to renegotiate its bailout.
European Voice, 23/3/15.
“Most people think that an illness like TB
only exists in less affluent parts of the
planet, yet it exists on our own doorstep.”
With drug-resistant tuberculosis on the rise
across the EU, the Latvian council presidency’s focus on eliminating the disease
has come at the right time, says Giovanni
Battista Migliori, the secretary-general
of the European Respiratory Society. The
Parliament magazine, 27/3/15.
“It will continue to be a ‘best practice’
model for other humanities projects…not
only in data integration, management and
retrieval, but also as outreach to society.”
Robert-Jan Smits, the director-general of
DG Research, says the EU will continue to
support the European Holocaust Research
Infrastructure through Horizon 2020, to collect information on the Holocaust and second
world war. Horizon 2020 projects, 26/3/15.

“The main question that
industry is asking now is:
What is in it for me?”
Patrick Maio, the coordinator of the
European Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Technology Platform, says there is some
trepidation among industrial partners
about the formation of Joint Technology
Initiatives to be funded through
Framework 7.
Research Europe, 7 April 2005

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

news  3

what’s going on
Madrid biotech chief quits
The director of the National Centre for Biotechnology in Madrid has stepped down, complaining
to her 600 staff about bureaucratic obstacles to funding projects and hiring employees. In an
email seen by Research Europe and sent to the centre’s staff on 25 March, Carmen Castresana
announced her resignation and claimed that the CSIC, the national research centre to which the
biotech centre is affiliated, had blocked the recruitment of three researchers she wanted to hire.
SKA at risk, says Italy’s leading astrophysicist
The Square Kilometre Array telescope project would collapse if any of the remaining national
partners were to back out, according to Giovanni Bignami, the president of Italy’s National
Institute for Astrophysics. Following the announcement that Germany is to pull out of the
collaboration in June, the withdrawal of support by any other country would lead to a “domino
effect” resulting in insufficient funding for the project to remain viable, he says.
Council to oppose data protection amendments
The justice ministers of the EU have agreed a position on the draft Data Protection Directive,
rejecting some amendments passed by the European Parliament to restrict the collection and
sharing of personal data for research purposes. Science lobby groups have opposed many of the
amendments, saying they would restrict scientists’ access and hinder medical research.
Commission seeks Horizon 2020 feedback
The European Commission has asked researchers and industry for their opinions on the
implementation of Horizon 2020. As part of an online survey, the Commission asks for input on
how effective the simplification of Horizon 2020 has been, and for feedback on the progress of
the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme for researcher exchange and the public-private
and public-public partnerships launched under Horizon 2020.
EU programmes’ accounting criticised
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology, and several other major EU programmes
including the fusion reactor Iter and the Innovative Medicines Initiative, need to do more to
account for their costs, MEPs have said. On 23 March, the European Parliament’s budgetary
control committee said that the institutions would need to demonstrate that they spent EU
funds for 2013 properly before the Parliament will approve their accounts.
MEPs chide Council over transparency
Members of the European Parliament have called on the Council of Ministers to stop hampering
efforts to open up EU negotiations to more public scrutiny. In a hearing on 26 March, held
jointly by the committees for budgetary control, legal affairs, civil liberties and justice, MEPs
suggested the possibility of a new code of conduct for the Council.
Universities back San Francisco declaration
The League of European Research Universities has signed the San Francisco Declaration
on Research Assessment, which challenges the use of journal impact factors as the primary
means for evaluating research. In an announcement on 16 March, Leru said it agreed with the
declaration that qualitative assessment measures—such as peer review—were needed alongside
quantitative metrics—such as citation rates—to determine the quality of an article.

4  news

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


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

by Cristina Gallardo


at the University of Geneva and one of the early critics
of the project. “National funders want to see if this programme is going somewhere,” he says.
The report calls for swift action to rebuild trust and
ensure funding for the partnering projects before
September 2016. It also recommends a contingency plan
to achieve the HBP’s goals with “substantially reduced
funding”, in case the budget for the partnering projects
is not secured before that deadline.
Several HBP directors have admitted that the funding
constraints will force them to revise the project’s plan
and formulate shorter-term scientific goals. The HBP,
they say, could learn from the scientific programmes of
two large brain projects in the United States: MindScope,
run by the Seattle-based Allen Institute, and the federal government’s Brain Research Through Advancing
Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative.
Other researchers involved in the project are reluctant
to narrow its scientific goals. Steve Furber, a computer
scientist at the University of Manchester and co-director
of one of the HBP subprojects, is one of the two members
of the mediation committee who did not endorse the
report, which he says is overly critical.
“Large projects should be driven by a grand vision—
not completely unachievable but very challenging,” he
says. “You need to be able to see the peak of the mountain that you are trying to climb, even if in the time
available it is unlikely you will get there.”
However, John Womersley, a physicist at the Uni­
versity of Oxford, chairman of the European Strategy
Forum on Research Infrastructures and another member
of the mediation committee, says the Commission needs
to learn from the mistakes of the HBP when planning
future projects. “If the Commission believes that half
of the funding will have to come from national sources,
then those national decision-makers need to be brought
on board much earlier,” he says.
Following the publication of the mediation report, the
HBP board immediately agreed to implement the recommendations. These include the integration of cognitive
neurosciences and changes in the project’s governance.
It will take on a separate legal status, and an independent board of directors will be set up.
A group of prominent external scientists will be
asked by the HBP board to produce a detailed plan for
implementing the mediators’ recommendations. This
approach has been welcomed by some of the project’s
critics, who nonetheless warn that the controversy will
only die down if the recommendations are fully adopted.

  news  5

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

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

in brief

ERC applications down in 2014
The European Research Council
received a significantly lower
number of proposals in 2014 than
in the previous year, the council’s annual report has
said. Its 2014 calls received 8,084 proposals—a 14 per
cent decrease from 2013. Proposals for Consolidator
Grants—aimed at researchers who have more than seven
years of experience since completing their PhD—fell
by a hefty 31 per cent, whereas for Starting Grants and
Advanced Grants the decreases were 2 per cent and 5 per
cent respectively.
Springer releases tool to find fakes
The publishing company Springer has developed opensource software to discover text that has been generated
by a computer. Springer collaborated with a computer
science research team at the Joseph Fourier University
in France to develop the software, called SciDetect,
which scans XML and PDF files submitted for review
against a fake-paper database to identify whether text is
genuine. According to the software’s authors, fake academic papers created by text-generating software such
as SCIgen, Mathgen and Physgen have caused embar-

by Lindsay McKenzie


partners. But the European Commission has failed to
act, critics say.
“The investigation included some criticisms of the IMI
that the Commission and Efpia say have been corrected,”
says Helle Aagaard, the EU policy adviser for Médecins
Sans Frontières. “However, we still have strong concerns
that the research agenda continues to be where industry
has an interest in investing its in-kind contributions.”
Spiegel Online lists seven criticisms, one of which is
that EU institutions have been denied access to financial
details of industry contributions to the IMI. One national representative from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint
Technology Initiative says this is a problem across all
such Horizon 2020 initiatives. “I accept that if you want
industry involved, you have to give power to industry,
but more transparency would avoid the impression of
a ‘closed-club’ environment,” says the representative.
Ingeborg Gräßle, a German MEP who heads the
Committee on Budgetary Control, says there is a “systematic conflict of interest” in JTIs, meaning it is not
clear “whether the taxpayer is getting value for money”.
However, she acknowledges that the JTI model is
strongly supported by the Commission, which could
explain why concerns have not been addressed sufficiently. “The Parliament will have to take a very close
look at public-private partnerships,” says Gräßle.
rassment to the publishing industry and damaged the
peer-review process.
Universities call for legal action on Juncker fund
Legal action against the European Fund for Strategic
Investments should be considered if the European
Commission cuts Horizon 2020 funding to support
the EU investment fund, the secretary-general of the
League of European Research Universities has said. Kurt
Deketelaere said that an assessment by the European
Court of Auditors, outlining the potential risks of the
investment fund, offered researchers a legal opportunity to prevent €2.7 billion in Horizon 2020 money being
diverted to the fund.
EU-US deal ‘will not lead to privatised education’
The EU and the United States have issued a joint statement insisting that a proposed Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership will not require governments
to privatise public services such as education, health
and social services. The statement follows concern from
European universities that any deal could undermine the
ability of national and regional governments to retain
control over higher education.

6  news

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

i n t e r v i e w    p ä r o m l i n g

Embracing variety
Pär Omling, the head of the European Science Foundation and a former vicepresident of Science Europe, tells Jenny Maukola why the ERA needs diversity.
Since the European Commission presented its concept
of a European Research Area—a common market for scientific knowledge—in 2000, there have been repeated
claims that national governments and funding agencies
should be doing far more to make it happen.
But according to Pär Omling, a Swedish physicist and
member of the board at Science Europe, an association
of research organisations and national funding agencies,
these claims are sometimes overdone. It’s important,
says Omling, to step back a few years and acknowledge
that Europe has already made great strides in defining
and working towards common goals.
“If you look at what was happening a year ago and
compare that with today, you might not see great
advances. But if you go back 10 or 20 years, a lot has
actually happened,” he says. “It’s almost impossible to
change Europe overnight; you have to be strategic in setting up common goals and spending time on them to get
people on board. When you have done that, then things
start to happen.”
Science Europe was established in 2011 with the
main aim of giving national research funders and
research-performing organisations more influence over
EU research policy. It replaced Eurohorcs—an informal
organisation comprising the heads of research funding organisations—and took over the policy aspects of
the European Science Foundation, a Strasbourg-based
organisation that was created in 1974 to promote
co­ordination in European science.
The architects of Science Europe originally envisaged that its creation would lead to both Eurohorcs and
the ESF closing down. But ESF members voted to keep
their organisation going, and its focus switched to nonpolicy-related activities such as
Pär Omling
research programmes and arranging peer review.
2014-present Board member, Science Europe
Omling, who is the president of
2012-present President,
the ESF, says the foundation will
European Science Foundation
revisit the question of shutting
2012-2014 Vice-president,
down entirely when its members
Science Europe
meet in June. In this case, it must
2007-2008 President,
decide whether a “follow-up” organEurohorcs
isation will be established to carry
2001-2010 Director-general,
out similar tasks to the ESF. “It
Swedish research council
won’t have the same name, but its
role may be to do evaluations and
1983 Phd in physics, Lund
peer review on a European level,


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

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

  comment  7

g e r o f e d e r k e i l    v i e w f r o m t h e t o p

U-Multirank indicators reveal
true diversity of universities
On 30 March, the second annual edition of U-Multirank,
the multidimensional, not-for-profit tool for assessing
universities, was published. The number of institutions
included has risen from 860 in 2014 to 1,210 in 2015,
from more than 80 countries.
U-Multirank provides 31 indicators in five areas:
teaching and learning; research; knowledge transfer;
international orientation; and regional engagement. For
each indicator, institutions are given a score ranging
from A for very good to E for weak.
Data come from the universities themselves, from
bibliometric and patent databases such as Thomson
Reuters and Patstat, and from surveys of more than
85,000 students at participating universities—one of the
largest such samples in the world. There are bibliometric and patent data for every institution, and more than
680 institutions provided data across all five areas
The results reinforce the merits of a multidimensional
approach to university ranking, emphasising that there
is no ‘number one’ university in the world. Some 99 per
cent of universities scored A on at least one indicator, and 42.2 per cent achieved five or more A scores.
However, only 8.2 per cent got 10 or more A scores, and
none got the top mark for all indicators.
The universities that achieved 10 or more A scores had
very different profiles. Some excelled mainly in research,
some in knowledge transfer and some in teaching and
learning. U-Multirank allows institutions to show their
specific strengths, and avoids one-dimensional leaguetable comparisons.
Coverage is most comprehensive—although not yet
complete—in Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, the Czech
Republic, Finland, Portugal and Romania. Here, the
results are helping policymakers to understand their
higher education systems.
U-Multirank also gives an international perspective
on the strengths and weaknesses of national institutions, thus helping governments to avoid misguided
investments in pursuit of ‘world-class’ research universities. Institutions already using U-Multirank data for
benchmarking include members of the Conference of
European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education
and Research, a network of technical universities.
For the 2015 edition, the U-Multirank consortium
introduced a number of features to enhance the quality
Gero Federkeil is the coordinator for U-Multirank (www.
umultirank.org). He works at the Centre for Higher
Education in Gütersloh, Germany.

of the data and data verification. For example, more than
30 automatic plausibility checks were built into online
questionnaires, so that institutions got immediate feedback if they entered implausible or inconsistent data.
Some useful and relevant indicators, however,
remain difficult to obtain or to compare across borders,
highlighting the lack of comprehensive and verified
international data sets on higher education. In particular, data on graduate employment rates and on
universities’ contribution to their regions are either
lacking or not fully comparable across countries.
Two reports by the European University Association
provide evidence of this issue. On the one hand, a
rankings review published in 2013 said that the indicators covered by U-Multirank were the most relevant
for strategic management. But on the other hand, a
report published earlier this year, based on a survey of
U-Multirank participants, revealed that many institutions lacked readily available data on these particular
indicators. The U-Multirank consortium will continue to
explore ways to make it easier for institutions to provide
the relevant data.
For the 2016 edition of U-Multirank, which will be
published next March, we aim to include 200 additional
institutions with full data sets. Six fields will also be
added: mathematics, chemistry and biology will extend
the coverage of science, while the addition of sociology,
history and social work will mean that the social sciences and humanities are included for the first time.
There will also be a special focus on recruiting more
institutions from outside Europe. In the 2015 edition,
57 per cent of the participating universities were from
Europe, with 18 per cent from Asia, 16 per cent from
North America and the remaining 9 per cent from Africa,
Latin America and Oceania.
The U-Multirank consortium is led by the Centre for
Higher Education in Germany and two Dutch institutions: the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at
the University of Twente and the Centre
for Science and Technology Studies at
Leiden University. The project is supported by the European Commission and has
€4 million from the Erasmus+ programme
for 2013-17. The ultimate goal is for an
independent, not-for-profit organisation
to manage the ranking as an open source
for international comparisons.
Something to add? Email comment@

‘The ranking
shows specific
avoiding onedimensional

8  comment

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

v i e w f r o m t h e t o p    g ü n t h e r & l u d w i g

How R&D subsidies helped
Germany to weather the crisis
Government subsidies for R&D are usually justified on
the grounds of their long-term economic effects, via the
innovations that they help to bring to market. But all
government spending has further consequences: simply by adding money to the economy, it can stimulate
demand and help to create or secure jobs.
Little is known about these short-term effects of R&D
subsidies, mainly because governments have long shied
away from deficit spending. But during the economic
crisis of 2008 and subsequent recession, many nations
sought to stabilise their economies through initiatives
to boost demand, consumption and lending.
In Germany, one such scheme involved the rapid
expansion of an R&D subsidy available to small and
medium-sized enterprises: the Central Innovation
Programme for SMEs, or ZIM. The aim was to encourage
companies to keep up their innovative activities, remain
active and retain staff.
The ZIM scheme provides grants of up to €350,000 for
individual companies with fewer than 250 employees,
or a maximum of €2m for collaborative projects, and
requires a proportion of co-funding that varies depending on the size of the company or companies involved.
In 2009, at the height of the crisis, the federal government added €900 million to the scheme’s €626m
budget. It also changed the criteria so that firms with up
to 1,000 employees were eligible. In 2011, the scheme
returned to its pre-crisis size and scope.
We have analysed the short-term effects of this expansion, and found it to have been a strikingly effective form
of deficit spending. By our calculations, the spending
triggered by the €900m increase in the programme’s
budget in 2009-10 added €3.9 billion to the national
economy and secured or created nearly 70,000 jobs.
Without the subsidy, Germany’s GDP in 2009 would have
shrunk by 0.5 per cent more than it did.
The extra money funded 4,237 additional grants in
2009-10, on top of the 924 made through the basic
budget. Government figures show that
their recipients contributed an additional
€2.4bn—2.8 times what they received.
Firms spent this money on salaries,
equipment, consumables and services. The
vendors and employees spent this money
in turn, and so on, so that the public funds
for R&D triggered a chain reaction that
touched all areas of the economy.
This effect is known as a multiplier. It
reflects the total economic activity result-

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

ing from a unit of spending or, in other words, the
number of times each euro is spent instead of being put
into savings or used to pay off a debt.
Using a model of the functional relationship between
different areas of an economy, called an input-output
model, we calculated that the multiplier for the ZIM subsidy in 2009-11 was just over two. This is significantly
more than other forms of economic stimulus, such as
vouchers for private consumption, which have multipliers of less than two.
Our analysis treated R&D spending as an investment.
In contrast, national accounting has historically treated
it as expenditure—something that disappears in the
production process, like fuel. It is recognised that this
does not capture the long-term benefits of R&D, and in
2009 the UN recommended treating such spending as
part of a nation’s capital. In 2014, the European System
of National and Regional Accounts followed suit, making
this classification mandatory for EU members.
Even though the boost to the ZIM scheme represented
less than 1 per cent of Germany’s €100bn stimulus package, it helped to make the country’s recession shorter
and shallower. Added to this, we can expect to see the
traditional fruits of R&D spending appearing in the next
five to ten years.
Speed is crucial in stimulus spending. Another advantage of R&D subsidies is that they can be allocated and
spent in a matter of months, and then stopped just as
quickly. Construction and infrastructure projects, in
contrast, can take longer to plan and implement than
the recession they are meant to address.
In this light, Horizon 2020’s emphasis on funding
small businesses is positive. But R&D spending is not an
economic cure-all. The ZIM scheme played to Germany’s
strengths, including a strong base of SMEs active in R&D.
Not all parts of Europe are equipped to make best use
of such subsidies. Grant funding for R&D will only be well
spent if it is part of a holistic approach that also takes
account of physical infrastructure and human capital.
This will require greater coordination, at both national
and European levels, between education, research and
economic ministries.
More to say? Email comment@ResearchResearch.com
Jutta Günther and Udo Ludwig are economists at the
University of Bremen and the Halle Institute for Economic
Research, respectively. Their paper with colleagues on
the macroeconomic effects of German R&D subsidies is
published in Research Policy vol 44, p623-633 (2015).

funding opportunities

Research Europe
2 April 2015

every new opportunity  every discipline

EU social innovation prize
The Directorate-General
for Internal Market,
Industry, Entrepreneurship
and SMEs invites entries
for the European social
innovation competition.
The first prize is worth
€100,000 [7].
Road information
The Government of the
Netherlands, together
with the Swedish Transport
Administration, invites
tenders for its V-Con precommercial procurement
2015 competition. The
budget is approximately
€1.22 million [25].
EU intestinal microbiomics
The JPI a Healthy Diet
for a Healthy Life invites
proposals for its joint
action – intestinal
microbiomics call.
This aims to support
dietary interventions or
guidance for modulation
of intestinal microbiome
to promote health and to
prevent the development
of non-communicable
chronic diseases [26].
Anti-corruption research
The British Academy
and the Department for
International Development
invite expressions of
interest for their anticorruption evidence
partnership. Grants are
worth up to £400,000
(€543,600) each [51].
not to 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


Northern Periphery and Arctic
10 DKProgramme
project grants 1166079






UK Royal Society Winton prize for
science books 1161915
UK Scottish Government chemical
investigations programme 1184095
UK Institute of Historical Research
Pearsall fellowship in naval and
maritime history 211538
UK Institute of Historical Research
Past & Present Society fellowships
CH World Health Organization
quantitation of the variability of
parasite and host response to drugs
AU Australian Society of Plant
Scientists RN Robertson travelling
fellowship 254012
EU European Foundation for Alcohol
research grants 202268
AT Interreg Central Europe call for
proposals 1183817
UK Action on Hearing Loss international project grant 198200
EU European Parliament multiple
framework service contract for the
provision of external expertise to
the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs 1184031
EU Directorate-General for Energy
analysis of energy prices and costs
in the EU, its member states and
major trading partners 1183964
EU Directorate-General for Energy
maximizing the impact of public
sector procurement of renewable
electricity via green public procurement guidelines 1184094
EU Directorate-General for Justice
analysis and comparative review of
equality data collection practices in
the EU 1183709
EU ERA-Net Cooperation in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Seafood
Processing transnational research
call 1177524
SK International Visegrad Fund
strategic grants 1172140
JP Japan Society for the Promotion
of Science international prize for
biology 1172689
NL Netherlands Institute for
Advanced Study in the Humanities




and Social Sciences fellowships for
non-Dutch scholars 205808
NL Netherlands Institute for
Advanced Study in the Humanities
and Social Sciences research theme
groups 1177334
CH Osteosynthesis and Trauma Care
Foundation research grants 197619
EU Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and
Technology rapid deployment and
adaptation of sustainable sociallyaware and intelligent sensing
services for emerging smart cities
UK Wellcome Trust translation fund
EU Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs study on
comprehensive policy review of
anti-trafficking projects funded by
the European Commission 1183893
UK MQ: Transforming Mental Health
fellows programme 1173002
UK Science and Technology Facilities Council beam time access – ISIS
IT European Food Safety Authority assistance to the assessment
methodology unit for statistical
analyses, data management and
ad hoc consultation upon request
UK Wellcome Trust research career
development fellowships in basic
biomedical science 253970
UK Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir
Henry Dale fellowships 1164964
IL Yad Vashem International
Institute for Holocaust Research
two-week research fellowships for
PhD students 1173082
EU Directorate-General for Justice
study on the remuneration provisions applicable to credit institutions and investment firms 1184129
EU FP7 Helmholtz-Zentrum
Dresden-Rossendorf access to freeelectron laser facility 253943
FR Fondation de France publication
prize 1183507
FR Fondation de France research
grant 1183506
SE Nordic Information on Gender
Nordic funding scheme 1175517
TR Scientific and Technological Research Council for Turkey
research fellowship programme for
international researchers 1182561
AT United European Gastroenterology support for educational meetings
AT United European Gastroenterology support of long-term projects

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.

Gastroenterology research
United European Gastroenterology invites
applications for its research prize. This
recognises excellence in basic science
and translational or clinical research.
The award is worth €100,000 and may be
used to purchase equipment, research
consumables and as salary support.
Web id: 251345
Email: m.wiener@medadvice.co.at
Deadline: 18 May 2015 [1]

EU education and youth
The Directorate-General for Education
and Culture invites tenders for studies
supporting European cooperation in education, training and youth. The tenderer
will support the European Commission's
work with reliable knowledge, evidence,
analysis and policy guidance. The contract
is worth an estimated €8 million.
Web id: 1184408
Email: eac-47-2014-call@ec.europa.eu
Deadline: 30 April 2015 [2]

EU environmental legislation
The Directorate-General for the Environment invites tenders for a study to
assess the benefits delivered through
the enforcement of EU environmental
legislation. The tenderer will fill in the
current knowledge gaps regarding the
outcomes of the enforcement action
pursued by the European Commission on
the implementation of EU environment
law. The contract is worth up to €200,000.
Web id: 1184246
Email: env-tenders@ec.europa.eu
Deadline: 30 April 2015 [3]

EU higher education
The Directorate-General for Education and
Culture invites tenders for implementing
and disseminating the European tertiary
education register. The tenderer will prepare, collect, process, validate and publish data for a regularly updated database
on Europe's universities as part of the
European tertiary education register. The
contract is worth an estimated €500,000.
Web id: 1184213
Email: eac-unite-b1@ec.europa.eu
Deadline: 4 May 2015 [4]

EU sustainability assesments
The Directorate-General for Energy invites
tenders for its framework agreement to
assess voluntary schemes and agreements used for sustainability claims. The
tenderer will assist the commission in
further improving the methodology of
assessments, developing new approaches
for sustainability certification and reviewing the operation of the current regime.
The contract is estimated to be worth
Web id: 1184409
Email: ener-c1-tenders@ec.europa.eu
Deadline: 4 May 2015 [5]

EU diversity research

Funding search
Free text: 1234567 x



The Directorate-General for Justice and
Consumers invites tenders for a business
case of diversity for enterprises, cities and
regions with focus on sexual orientation

10  funding opportunities
and gender identity. The tenderer will
produce a publication on the business
case for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex inclusion in companies
and one on the benefits of LGBTI diversity
for cities and regions. Furthermore, the
tenderer will explore the economic case of
LGBTI non-discrimination and inclusion.
Web id: 1184304
Deadline: 5 May 2015 [6]

EU social innovation prize
The Directorate-General for Internal
Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and
SMEs invites entries for the European
social innovation competition. This aims
to raise awareness of social innovation's
potential to provide solutions to societal
challenges and foster sustainable and
inclusive growth in Europe. The first prize
is worth €100,000.
Web id: 1169987
Email: info@socialinnovationprize.eu
Deadline: 8 May 2015 [7]

EU H2020 electronic systems
The European Commission Horizon 2020:
Industrial Leadership and the Electronic
Components and Systems for European
Leadership Joint Undertaking (ECSEL)
invite proposals for the following calls:
•ECSEL-2015-1 research and innovation actions call, with a total budget of
€50 million, of which €33m is for expenditure in 2015 and €17m for 2016.
Web id: 1184215
•ECSEL-2015-2 innovation actions
call, with a total budget of €95 million,
of which €62m is for expenditure in 2015
and €33m for 2016. Web id: 1184216
Email: ecsel-office@ecsel.europa.eu
Deadline: 12 May 2015 [9]

EU sustainable development
Interreg North-West Europe and the
Directorate-General for Regional and
Urban Policy invite proposals for transnational project grants. These aim to
produce measurable positive change in
the North-West Europe territory with
a focus on innovation, low carbon and
resource and material efficiency. The total
budget is €370 million. Grants may cover
up to 60 per cent of the total project costs.
Successful projects will be reimbursed
with a lump sum of €30,000 for preparation costs.
Web id: 1159082
Email: josee@nweurope.eu
Deadline: 18 May 2015 [11]

Education quality
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development invites applications
for the Thomas J Alexander fellowship
programme. This seeks to develop and
support improvements in education quality and equity, particularly in emerging economies. Funding is provided for
one year, including a minimum of three
months spent at the OECD headquarters
in Paris, France.
Web id: 1171030
Email: edu.fellowships@oecd.org
Deadline: 24 May 2015 [12]

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

Research Europe, 2 April 2015
Web id: 259563
Email: secec@wanadoo.fr
Deadline: 30 June 2015 [13]

Cardiovascular prize
The European Society of Cardiology's
Acute Cardiovascular Care Association
invites applications for its research prize.
This rewards unpublished clinical or translational research applied to the development of novel therapeutic, diagnostic and
logistical strategies to improve patient
care and long-term outcomes. The winner
receives €3,000.
Web id: 1184286
Deadline: 30 June 2015 [14]

University teaching
The German Research Foundation (DFG)
invites applications for the Emmy Noether
programme. This provides early-career
researchers with the opportunity to rapidly qualify for a university teaching
career. Funding will initially be awarded
for a three-year period, with a possible
two-year extension.
Web id: 208226
Email: verfahren-nachwuchs@dfg.de
No deadline [15]

Group visits to Germany
The German Academic Exchange Service
(DAAD) invites applications for its group
study visits to Germany. Awards provide
students with subject-related knowledge,
facilitate meetings with German students,
academics and researchers, and give
the students a greater understanding of
and insight into economic, political and
cultural life in Germany. Visits may last
between seven and 12 days.
Web id: 1180184
Email: loellgen@daad.de
Deadline: 1 May 2015 [16]

Historical humanities awards
The Gerda Henkel Foundation invites
proposals for the following grants:
•research project grants.
Web id: 1166541
•research scholarships.
Web id: 1166545
Deadline: 12 June 2015 [18]

Type 2 diabetes
The European Foundation for the Study of
Diabetes and Merck, Sharpe & Dome invite
proposals for their European research
programme on new targets for type 2
diabetes. This aims to stimulate and
accelerate European research on the
identification and molecular understanding of new targets for the treatment of
type 2 diabetes. Grants are worth up to
€100,000 for at least one year.
Web id: 1172208
Email: foundation@easd.org
Deadline: 15 June 2015 [19]

Science and journalism
The VolkswagenStiftung invites applications for its science and data-driven
journalism grants. These aim to initiate
joint research and reporting projects
which enable researchers and journalists
to learn from each other and to generate
new impulses for their respective activities. Grants are worth up to €100,000.
Web id: 1184360
Email: brunotte@volkswagenstiftung.de
Deadline: 15 June 2015 [20]

Type 1 diabetes

Haematology collaboration

The European Foundation for the Study of
Diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation and Lilly invite applications
for research grants under their European
programme in type 1 diabetes research.
These promote basic and clinical biomedical research, expedite the practical application of scientific advances,
encourage clinical translational research
and increase awareness of type 1 diabetes. Grants are normally worth up to
€100,000 for one year or longer, but
grants of up to €400,000 are considered
for clinical projects.
Web id: 201616
Email: foundation@easd.org
Deadline: 1 July 2015 [21]

The European Hematology Association
invites applications for the following
•advanced short term collaboration
award, worth up to €20,000.
Web id: 1184342
•clinical research fellowships, worth
up to €240,000 each. Web id: 1179803
•joint fellowship programme, in collaboration with the International Society
of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. Fellowships are worth up to €100,000 each.
Web id: 1161545
•junior short term collaboration
awards, worth up to €10,000 per visit.
Web id: 1184341
•non-clinical advanced research fellowships, worth €240,000 each.
Web id: 1179809
•non-clinical junior research fellowships, worth €150,000 each.
Web id: 1179805
Email: fellowships.grants@ehaweb.org
Deadline: 3 August 2015 [33]

Security and rule of law
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research's Division of Science
for Global Development (NWO WOTRO)
invites proposals for the following calls:
•security and rule of law applied
research fund: call for evidence-informed
ideas. Grants are worth up to €25,000
each for up to three months.
Web id: 1184184
•security and rule of law applied
research fund: open call for evidencebased policy advice and tools. Grants are
worth up to €100,000 each for up to six
months. Web id: 1184186
Email: r.zuidema@nwo.nl
Deadline: 17 April 2015 [24]

Exchanging road information
The Government of the Netherlands,
together with the Swedish Transport
Administration, invites tenders for its
V-Con pre-commercial procurement 2015
competition. This aims to improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of the national road authorities by improving open
data exchange in the civil infrastructure
sector, with a focus on road construction
and road asset management. The budget
is approximately €1.22 million.
Web id: 1184214
Email: v-con@rws.nl
Deadline: 23 April 2015 [25]

EU intestinal microbiomics
The JPI a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life
invites proposals for its joint action –
intestinal microbiomics call. This aims to
support dietary interventions or guidance
for modulation of intestinal microbiome to promote health and to prevent
the development of non-communicable
chronic diseases.
Web id: 1183944
Email: jpihdhl@zonmw.nl
Deadline: 28 April 2015 [26]

Inflammatory bowel disease 1
The International Organisation for the
Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
invites applications for its operating
grants. These support research relevant
to inflammatory bowel disease. Grants
are worth up to US$150,000 (€137,300)
for up to one year, although preference
will be given to grants worth no more
than US$50,000. Grants may fund salaries for research assistants, technicians
or trainees.
Web id: 1171126
Email: ioibd@mkproducties.nl
Deadline: 30 June 2015 [27]

Inflammatory bowel disease 2
The International Organisation for the
Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
invites applications for its travel grants.
These enable physicians or researchers
to visit foreign IBD centres for research,
projects or clinical experience. Each grant
is worth up to €20,000.
Web id: 1171127
Email: ioibd@mkproducties.nl
Deadline: 1 September 2015 [34]

Mathematics prize
The Norwegian Academy of Science and
Letters invites nominations for the Abel
prize. This recognises outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, including mathematical aspects of
computer science, mathematical physics,
probability, numerical analysis and scientific computing, statistics and applications of mathematics in the sciences. The
prize is worth NOK6 million (€698,000).
Web id: 189271
Email: abelprisen@dnva.no
Deadline: 15 September 2015 [35]

Joint Nordic workshops
The Joint Committee for Nordic Research
Councils for the Humanities and the
Social Sciences (NOS-HS) and the Swedish Research Council invite proposals
for their Nordic workshop series. These
aim to promote the development of new
research areas and programmes within
the humanities and social sciences in
the Nordic countries. Each series of workshops may receive up to €50,000.
Web id: 211729
Email: anni.jarvelin@vr.se
Deadline: 21 April 2015 [36]

Nordic prize
The Eric K Fernström's Foundation invites
nominations for its annual Nordic prize.
This recognises outstanding scientific
work in the field of medicine. The award
is worth SEK1 million (€107,100).
Web id: 213642
Email: christina.parknas@med.lu.se
Deadline: 24 April 2015 [37]

Mediterranean research
The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul invites applications for its large
research grant. This supports research

funding opportunities  11

Research Europe, 2 April 2015
projects within humanities and social
sciences that are related to Turkey, other
parts of the Eastern Mediterranean or any
other areas that are culturally, historically
or linguistically linked to the region. The
grant is worth up to SEK45,000 (€4,800)
and includes a visit to Istanbul.
Web id: 251182
Email: ingela.nilsson@lingfil.uu.se
Deadline: 27 April 2015 [38]

EU antimicrobial resistance
The Joint Programming Initiative on
Antimicrobal Resistance invites proposals
for transnational research projects. These
aim to sustain defence against antimicrobal resistance by reviving neglected
and disused antibiotics, designing combinations of ND-AB and antibiotics and
of ND-AB and non-antibiotics, in order
to reduce occurrence of resistance or
overcome established resistance. The
total budget is €9.65 million. Funding
is granted for a maximum of three years.
Web id: 1176549
Email: jcsamr@agencerecherche.fr
Deadline: 12 May 2015 [39]

Forestry networking
Nordic Forest Research, in collaboration with the North European Regional
Office of European Forest Institute, invites
applications for grants to support networking activities. These aim to increase
collaboration among the forest research
communities in the Nordic, Baltic Sea
and the North Atlantic regions. The total
budget is SEK1.15 million and grants are
worth up to SEK250,000 (€26,800).
Web id: 186044
Email: bodeker.sns@slu.se
Deadline: 1 June 2015 [40]

Life sciences prize
The Science for Life Laboratory, the Science magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science
invite entries for their prize for young
scientists. This recognises the best doctoral research thesis related to the life
sciences. Category prizes are worth up to
US$10,000 (€9,100) each and the grand
prize is worth US$30,000.
Web id: 1179711
Email: scilifelabprize@aaas.org
Deadline: 1 August 2015 [41]

Mobility grants
The Swedish Governmental Agency for
Innovation Systems (Vinnova) and Marie
Curie Action invite applications for the
VINNMER Marie Curie incoming call, under
the Mobility for Growth programme. This
aims to strengthen qualification opportunities for international researchers
through increased mobility opportunities,
by visiting and working in Swedish host
organisations. The budget is worth up to
SEK130 million (€13.9m).
Web id: 1171201
Email: erik.litborn@vinnova.se
Deadline: 16 September 2015 [42]

Oncology research fellowship
The European Society for Medical Oncology invites applications for the Georges
Mathé translational research fellowship.
This enables investigators to receive
research training on oncology and cancer
immunology. The award is worth €35,000.
Web id: 1177552
Email: esmo@esmo.org
Deadline: 1 May 2015 [43]

Hepatology fellowships
The European Association for the Study of
the Liver invites applications for the Dame
Sheila Sherlock EASL entry-level research
fellowships. These aim to enhance the
mobility of investigators within different
European institutions and to actively
promote scientific exchange among
research units in hepatology. Fellowships are worth €30,000 each.
Web id: 196096
Email: easloffice@easloffice.eu
Deadline: 30 November 2015 [44]

Remote gambling research
The Responsible Gambling Trust invites
tenders for its remote gambling research
programme. The tenderer will explore
the potential usefulness of behavioural
analytics and industry-held data in the
remote gambling sector to indicate markers or patterns of behaviour that may be
indicative that customers are experiencing gambling-related harm, and mitigate
such risks or harms. The total budget is
worth £500,000 (€679,200).
Web id: 1184165
Email: remoteitt@responsiblegamblingtrust.org.uk
Deadline: 24 April 2015 [47]

Cancer research travel
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow invites applications
for the Davies Foundation travelling fellowship. This enables consultants to
take a sabbatical in order to undertake
further study or research in cancer and
related fields. Awards are worth £10,000
(€13,600) each.
Web id: 257527
Email: scholarship@rcpsg.ac.uk
Deadline: 24 April 2015 [48]

Wave energy systems
The Scottish Government's Highlands and
Islands Enterprise invites registrations for
its research and development services call
on power take-off systems for wave energy. This supports wave energy technology
development projects in areas that have
been prioritised as requiring the most
development or having the most impact
on the future cost of energy. The total
budget is worth up to £7 million (€9.5m).
Web id: 1184305
Email: hieprocurement@hient.co.uk
Deadline: 15 May 2015 [49]

Fuel poverty research
Eaga Charitable Trust invites proposals
for its fuel poverty grants. These support
work that contributes to understanding
and addressing the causes and effects of
fuel poverty, and understanding the links
between fuel poverty and health, and
financial and social impacts at the national, devolved and local levels. Grants are
worth up to £25,000 (€34,100).
Web id: 1166479
Email: eagact@aol.com
Deadline: 1 June 2015 [50]

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

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

Cancer research equipment
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow invites applications
for the Aileen Lynn bequest fund. This
supports the purchase of small equipment
for cancer research. Grants are worth up
to £5,000 (€6,800) each.
Web id: 257522
Email: scholarships@rcpsg.ac.uk
Deadline: 28 August 2015 [52]

rest of world
Mineral deposit exploitation
The Australian Academy of Science invites
applications for the Haddon Forrester
King medal. This recognises contributions
to Earth sciences of particular relevance
to the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of mineral deposits. The award is
worth up to AU$10,000 (€7,100).
Web id: 1171916
Email: awards@science.org.au
Deadline: 30 April 2015 [56]

Travel to Australia
The Australian Academy of Science invites
nominations for the Selby fellowship.
This enables scientists to visit Australia
for public lecture or seminar tours. The
fellowship is worth up to AU$13,000
(€9,300) for up to three months.
Web id: 203772
Email: awards@science.org.au
Deadline: 15 June 2015 [57]

Water prize
The Singapore International Water Week
invites nominations for the Lee Kuan
Yew water prize. This recognises contributions towards solving the world's
water problems by applying novel technologies or implementing innovative
policies and programmes. The prize is
worth SG$300,000 (€200,500).
Web id: 1172730
Email: leekuanyewwaterprize@siww.
Deadline: 15 May 2015 [58]

Democracy grants
The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
invites applications for its international
grants. These enable organisations based
outside of Taiwan to carry out projects to
promote democracy and human rights,
such as advocacy projects, research,
conferences, publications and educational programmes. Grants usually
range between US$3,000 (€2,700) and
Web id: 1182114
Email: grants@tfd.org.tw
No deadline [59]

Energy prizes
The Mubadala Development Company
invites applications for the Zayed future
energy prizes. These recognise significant
contributions to advance the fields of
renewable energy and sustainability.
The prize fund is US$4 million (€3.7m).
Web id: 1160614
Email: info@zayedfutureenergyprize.
Deadline: 22 June 2015 [60]

12  funding opportunities

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

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

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

Metrology engineering *ESA
The European Space Agency invites tenders
for the development of an operational
assimilation of space radar and lidar cloud
profile observations for numerical weather
prediction. The tenderer will develop an
operational data assimilation system for
space-borne lidar and radar observations
for cloud profiles and precipitation. The
contract is worth up to €500,000. Ref:
14.197.29. Deadline: 29 April 2015

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

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

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

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


policy diary

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

22 10th International Scientific Conference for Economic
Integrations, Competition and
Cooperation, Opatija, Croatia.
To 24. http://rsrch.co/1uZAOFK
28 Earto and Eirma Annual Conference 2015, Luxembourg. To 29.

US Department of Defense breast cancer research programme: breakthrough
awards levels 3 and 4
Web id: 1178953
Deadline: 24 April 2015 [68]
US Department of Defense breast cancer
research programme: innovator award
Web id: 1178927
Deadline: 24 April 2015 [69]
Marfan Foundation faculty grant programme
Web id: 1178751
Deadline: 27 April 2015 [70]
Environmental Research and Education
Foundation scholarships
Web id: 208009
Deadline: 1 May 2015 [72]
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research post-PhD research
Web id: 256013
Deadline: 1 May 2015 [73]
US Department of Defense ovarian cancer research programme – pilot award
Web id: 1157972
Deadline: 6 May 2015 [74]
US Department of Defense ovarian cancer research programme: clinical translational award
Web id: 1173634
Deadline: 6 May 2015 [75]
US Department of Defense amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis research programme –
therapeutic development award
Web id: 1159063
Deadline: 11 May 2015 [76]
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation new
ways to reduce childhood pneumonia
deaths through the delivery of timely
effective treatment
Web id: 1184013
Deadline: 13 May 2015 [78]
US Department of Defense ovarian cancer research programme: investigatorinitiated research award
Web id: 1179177
Deadline: 13 May 2015 [79]
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
research grants
Web id: 207387
Deadline: 15 May 2015 [81]
Lupus Research Institute distinguished
innovator awards
Web id: 1166134
Deadline: 25 June 2015 [82]
Consortium of Humanities Centers and
Institutes/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly
Exchange summer institutes
Web id: 1184242
Deadline: 1 July 2015 [83]
Spencer Foundation Lyle
research awards
Web id: 1184173
Deadline: 9 July 2015 [84]


Library of Congress Kluge fellowships
Web id: 213734
Deadline: 15 July 2015 [85]
International Society for Heart and Lung
Transplantation international travelling
Web id: 210534
Deadline: 1 August 2015 [86]

  5 Innoveit 2015 – EIT Innovation
Forum, Budapest, Hungary.
  6 Key Enabling Technologies for
Regional Growth: Synergies Between Horizon 2020 and ESIF,
Brussels, Belgium.
14 EHEA Ministerial Conference
2015: The Bologna Process,
Yerevan, Armenia. To 15.
20 ICT for Ageing well, Lisbon,
Portugal. To 22.
28 Data Infrastructures for Sustainable Growth, Lisbon, Portugal. http://rsrch.co/1L2FusB
  8 Open Innovation 2.0 Conference, Espoo, Finland. To 9.
10 EuroNanoForum: Advancing
Technologies within the new
Approach for H2020.
Riga, Latvia. To 12.
15 Access to Finance for Research,
Innovation and SMEs 2015,
Riga, Latvia. To 17.
18 The Future of Doctoral Education – Where do we go from
here? To 19. Munich, Germany.
22 A new Start for Europe: Opening
up to an ERA of Innovation.
To 23. Brussels, Belgium.
24 Association of European
Research Libraries Annual
Conference, London, UK. To 26.
28 EARMA: Enabling Cultures and
Diversity in Research Management. To 1 July.
  7 Academia Europaea 27th Annual Conference 2015, Darmstadt,
Germany. To 10.
14 International Conference on
Theory and Practice of Digital
Libraries. Poznan, Poland. To
18. http://rsrch.co/1AUR9UC
24 Re-work Future Health Summit,
London, UK. To 25.

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analysis 13

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


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

Carlo Rizzuto, the president of the Elettra synchrotron
in Trieste, Italy, and a former chairman of Esfri, says this
needs to change. He argues that future Framework programmes should allocate as much as 20 per cent of funds
to research facilities. The money could still be allocated
through Esfri, he says, but should be used for construction and operational costs as well as design.
Giorgio Rossi, a physicist at the University of Milan
and vice-chairman of Esfri, agrees. He also defends the
Commission’s decision to prioritise a smaller number of
projects in the 2016 update. “The Commission has tended
to spread its support relatively thinly across many laboratories,” says Rossi. “It should reduce the number of
facilities and be more substantial.” This, he says, will
guarantee the success of the facilities that are supported.
But many struggling facilities are already looking
elsewhere for support, including to EU structural funds.
The ELI laser facility, which is supported by laboratories
in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, has successfully used the European Regional Development Fund
to finance 85 per cent of its €850m construction costs.
And speaking in London on 23 March, the EU research
commissioner Carlos Moedas suggested that infrastructure projects could apply for funding from the European
Fund for Strategic Investments, a €315bn economic
stimulus package being planned by the Commission.
Private investors could fill the gap in funding, Moedas
said, using money from the EU budget as a guarantee.
“Several member states have already indicated their
willingness to use Efsi for projects including the ESS,
the Elixir life-science project and the BBMRI biobank
infrastructure,” says a Commission spokeswoman. “Efsi
should provide genuine opportunities for the construction and upgrades of infrastructure.” But science groups
remain sceptical, as Efsi will only provide loans, not
grants—making it an unrealistic solution for telescopes
or neutron facilities with timelines of a decade or more.
According to Tindemans, it is up to the Commission
and member states to find a sustainable
funding solution for infrastructure. “None
of the major research facilities in the
United States gets company financing for
construction or operating costs,” he says.
“That should teach European governments
and the Commission a lesson or two.”
Something to add? Email comment@

‘There is no
EU funding for
or operation.’

14  news

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

uk & ireland

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

in brief

Structural biologist named
Royal Society president
The structural biologist and Nobel
prizewinner Venki Ramakrishnan
has been elected to take over from Paul Nurse as president of the Royal Society. Ramakrishnan, who works in
the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University
of Cambridge, will take over the top job at the national
academy in December.
UK fails to live up to graphene hype
A government analysis of worldwide patents in 2015 has
concluded that the UK does not register enough patents on inventions using graphene. The University of
Manchester holds 12 patent families, the most in the UK,
but two top Korean and Chinese technology companies
hold almost 500 patent families each.
Strategy takes Ireland’s researchers by surprise
Many of Ireland’s research organisations have hastily
prepared written responses to help shape a strategy for
science, technology and innovation that the government hopes to have in place by the summer. Researchers
are angry that the consultation was published on the
websites of 10 government departments without any
announcement being made.

by Adam Smith


degrees would be provided in addition to existing funding. It is also planning to review how to strengthen
funding for postgraduates, and examine the balance
between the number and level of research stipends to
ensure that the UK remains internationally competitive.
The chancellor’s overall message was that the UK
is on the road to economic recovery and, although it
must continue to make public spending cuts to ensure
the recovery is sustainable, it can start to raise spending again after 2017-18. “Britain is on the right track,”
Osborne told parliament. “We must not turn back.”
Osborne said the government would need to save
£30 billion by 2017-18, which is half the amount that
the opposition, Labour, said the Conservatives would
need to save to meet their deficit reduction target.
Figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility, published alongside the budget on 18 March, show that the
deficit is now half of what the government inherited in
2010, when it was 10 per cent of national income. The
OBR forecasts that it will be 0.6 per cent by 2017-18.
The chancellor said his planned savings of £30bn
would be achieved by cutting £13bn in public spending and £12bn in welfare, and preventing losses of £5bn
from aggressive tax avoidance or evasion.
No commitment to increased science spending
Prime minister David Cameron has refused to commit to a real-terms increase in the science budget if
the Conservatives are re-elected in the May election.
Responding in parliament to a question from one of his
own MPs on whether he would raise the science budget,
Cameron made no reference to future spending plans.
‘No lobbying, no threatening’, says SKA boss
The director-general of the Square Kilometre Array telescope project has denied that UK delegates behaved
aggressively at a meeting to decide the location of the
telescope’s administrative headquarters. SKA directorgeneral Phil Diamond said that nothing untoward took
place at the meeting on 2 March. “There was no lobbying, no threatening going on,” he said.
Minister urged to address STEM gender imbalance
Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly have called
on Stephen Farry, the minister for employment and
learning, to publish a strategy and action plan to address
gender imbalance in science, technology, engineering
and mathematics careers. Farry said in 2013 that women
were important to STEM subjects in Northern Ireland,
but the government has no strategy to address their
underrepresentation in relevant posts.

  news  15

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


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

in brief

France set to name secretary
of state for research
Two prominent academics have
been named as possible successors to Geneviève Fioraso, who resigned as France’s
secretary of state for research earlier this month. They
are Marie-Christine Lemardeley, a literary scholar and
former president of the Sorbonne Nouvelle University
in Paris, and mathematician Bertrand Monthubert, the
president of the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse.
Three socialist MPs have also been suggested: Alain
Claeys, Jean-Yves Le Déaut and Maud Olivier.
Sarkozy calls for headscarf ban at universities
Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, has said
that head-coverings worn by Muslim women should be
prohibited in universities, just as they are in state schools.
Sarkozy, who is positioning himself for a fresh presidential
run in 2017, said he could not “see the logic of banning
the veil in schools but allowing it at universities”. The
remarks have been widely judged as an attempt to coax
right-wing support back from the Front National party.
Deal to improve science careers in Bavaria
Bavaria’s government, universities and industry have
agreed a set of guidelines to improve job security and

by Marta Paterlini


Scientists in Italy and abroad have been infuriated by
the length of time it has taken the Italian government
to take action against Vannoni and his colleagues, as
there was never any evidence to suggest that the therapy might have worked.
In parallel to the judicial proceedings, the Italian
senate has conducted an investigation into the affair,
led by the stem cell biologist Elena Cattaneo, who was
appointed honorary senator in 2013. The team’s report,
presented in February, includes 10 proposals to improve
Italy’s use of science in policy.
One of the recommendations is to introduce the
Daubert standard, a law used in the United States, into
the Italian legal system. This would require courts to
independently assess the validity of scientific advice.
Cattaneo’s team also proposes changes to a 2006
decree under which the compassionate use of therapies
is allowed on an emergency basis even if a therapy has
not yet been approved, as long as there is some evidence
of efficacy. Even though this decree should have been
enough to block Stamina, because it requires treatments to be effective, we still might need to change it,”
Cattaneo wrote in an article in the national newspaper
La Stampa last month.
aid career planning among science graduates. The deal,
signed on 19 March, is based on offering fair contracts
to graduates and doctoral students, taking their individual situations into account. The guidelines include
recommendations for businesses to offer part-time work
to employees who return to university, and for the government to offer greater job security to professors.
More support for Syria fund
Baden-Württemberg has joined a German funding programme set up to support Syrian doctoral students
displaced by the war. The initial intake of students will
be about 50, and the state will spend about €1.65 million
a year to help them with housing and provide doctoral
salaries. The programme is run by the German Academic
Exchange Service, the DAAD.
Leopoldina security committee starts work
Germany’s academy of sciences, the Leopoldina, has set
up a committee to monitor how researchers deal with
work related to national security. The committee aims
to understand how the pressures of working on such
research, for example in weapons development, political
science and some health topics, affect those doing the
work. It will also aim to ensure that the results of securityrelated science do not fall into the wrong hands.

16  news

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


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

by Jenny Maukola


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

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  analysis  17

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

Finland’s election forecast: trouble ahead
There was an air of optimism
among the academics who
gathered at the University
of Helsinki on 19 March for a
pre-election debate between
representatives of the national parties. Many were
hoping to hear promises that universities would be
saved from impending budget cuts, as parties jostled
to secure the country’s science vote.
Instead, their optimism was quelled as they were
reminded that, whatever government takes power
after the elections on 19 April, the country’s bleak
economic situation makes it unlikely that universities
can be spared.
According to a government report published on
the day of the debate, Finland needs to cut public
spending by €6 billion, or 3 per cent of GDP, by 2019
to get its economy back on track. Despite an outward
appearance of prosperity, Finland’s 2014 government debt was €90bn, equal to 46 per cent of GDP.
And figures released by the Unifi university association on 19 March reveal that Finland’s university
index—which determines basic funding according to
measures such as wage and salary earnings—has
dropped three times since it was introduced in 2011.
This has amounted to a €255-million reduction in university income between 2011 and 2015, says Unifi.
But at the debate, only the Green League and the
liberal Swedish People’s Party of Finland said they
wanted to reverse this trend. The Social Democratic
Party of Finland, which forms part of the coalition in
power now, even defended the state of higher education relative to other areas of public spending. “In the
past four years, the position that universities have
been in has been reasonable,” said Pilvi Torsti, the
state secretary for Finland’s minister of education
and science.
And only the leader of the Green League, Ville
Niinistö, acknowledged that the country’s wider politics made it likely that higher education would be first
on the chopping board. Last month, the Finnish par-


in brief

Universities should centralise
subjects, says report
Finland’s universities should combine forces for particular subjects
to improve the quality of research and teaching, a report
has suggested. The number of teaching units across all
universities should be halved from 272 to reduce fragmentation, according to Aalto University rector Tuula
Teeri and Arto Mustajoki, the dean of humanities at the
University of Helsinki.

by Jenny Maukola


liament rejected a plan to cut €191m from school-age
education because of political pressure. Meanwhile,
Finland’s reputation for a high quality of welfare
means that the health and social care budgets are
also unlikely to be touched. “It has been easier for the
government to cut from higher education than from
healthcare,” said Niinistö. “As a result, the government has cut way too much from education, which is
a bad mistake.”
The latest forecasts indicate that Finland will once
again be governed by a large coalition following the
general election. A poll by national news broadcaster
Yle on 20 March found that the agrarian Centre Party
was predicted to secure about 25 per cent of the vote,
followed by the Social Democratic Party and the centreright Kokoomus with 16 per cent each, and the Finns
Party—a populist anti-EU group—with 15 per cent.
Parties may find common ground in a plan to introduce tax exemptions to make it easier for universities
to receive private donations. This policy was supported by all debate panelists except the Left Alliance MP
Anna Kontula, although Niinistö maintained that it
could not be considered a replacement for government funding.
And the three most popular parties also agreed that
universities should charge tuition fees for students
from outside the EU or the European Economic Area
to increase their income. However, this could prove
tricky to enact given that the government failed to
introduce a similar proposal in 2014, following vocal
protests by students and researchers.
After the polls close on 19 April, Finland can expect
a brief hiatus from budget discussions while the parties negotiate to form a coalition government. But
shortly after, political pressure on the government
to reduce public spending and balance the books will
return louder than ever. For universities seeking a
respite from belt-tightening measures, the outlook
doesn’t look good.
Switzerland commits more funds to ESS
The Swiss parliament has signed an agreement to contribute an extra 97.2 million Swiss francs (€93m) to the
construction of the European Spallation Source, which
is being built in Lund, Sweden. This takes the total
Swiss contribution to CHF130m, or 3.5 per cent of the
ESS budget. “The ESS will allow Swiss researchers to conduct experiments that are not possible in Switzerland,”
said Martin Steinacher, the deputy head of international
cooperation in research at the Swiss state secretariat.

18  news

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


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

in brief

Salaries up 2 per cent
An annual survey of academics
has found that tenured and tenure track professors made 2 per
cent more in 2014 than the year before, with those in
engineering and computer science among the best paid.
The College and University Professional Association for
Human Resources surveyed more than 175,000 faculty
members at public and private colleges and universities.
House wants to change EPA boards
The House of Representatives has voted to reform the
Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory boards,
but critics say the idea—which president Barack Obama
has threatened to veto—is an attempt to weaken environmental regulation. The EPA Science Advisory Board
Reform Act would alter who can serve on the panels that
guide science rules and policies at the agency.
NASA challenged on Earth observation
Members of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science
and Competitiveness have challenged NASA over its
Earth science programmes, saying that the space agency
should focus on space exploration instead. Ted Cruz,
the Texas Republican who chairs the panel, told NASA
administrator Charles Bolden that the proportion of

by Sam Lemonick


is, by statute, not a narrow focus,” Córdova said during
the hearing. She told the subcommittee that she was
there to discuss why the NSF funded what it funded, and
pointedly mentioned social and behavioural research.
She pointed out that 51 Nobel laureates in economics had received funding from the NSF’s directorate for
social sciences.
Culberson said, however, that the NSF should be
careful about what it funds, lest taxpayers think it is
supporting frivolous research and the agency’s reputation is weakened.
Some members of the subcommittee also suggested
that Congress could oversee the budgets of specific
directorates, rather than the overall budget for the agency as it does now. Córdova argued against that idea,
telling the representatives that it would be too much
work for the NSF and would drive scientists to lobby for
more money for their directorate of choice.
“Planning needs to be highly flexible and adaptive
to discoveries, insights and advances that are unpredictable. It is limiting to plan for a future that cannot
be envisioned. It is the opposite of what we are funded
to do, which is to pursue great ideas of creative people,”
Córdova said.
NASA funding spent on space exploration had fallen by
8 per cent since 2009.
NSF announces open-access plan
The National Science Foundation has said it will rely on
publishers to make papers from research it has funded
freely available on their own sites a year after they are
first published. The agency will also maintain an archive
of papers or links to papers, but this will only exist for
preservation and will not be publicly searchable.
University halts clinical trials
The University of Minnesota has said it will stop enrolling patients in trials of psychiatric treatments, following
a report on the suicide of a patient who had been participating in a clinical trial. Dan Markingson killed himself
in 2004 during an AstraZeneca-sponsored trial of anti­
psychotic drugs at the university’s hospital in Fairview.
Democrats propose spending boost
Dick Durbin and Bill Foster, the Democrat senators for
Illinois, have proposed an American Innovation Act to
help the United States maintain its leadership in science. The act would increase federal spending on basic
science at five agencies by 5 per cent a year over the next
10 years, at a cost of $100 billion (€67bn).

news  19

Research Europe, 2 April 2015


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

in brief

Iran’s campus diplomacy
Iran is expanding its network of
university campuses in the Arab
states, according to the news
website University World News. The country is setting up
branch campuses in Iraq, including a technical university specialising in the power industry, a medical sciences
university and a branch of the Islamic Azad University. It
is also branching out into the Comoros, an Arab League
member state off the east coast of Africa. Iran, which
already has campuses in the United Arab Emirates and
Lebanon, is the only country in the Middle East to have
an extensive branch campus programme.
Supercomputing network planned
India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given
the green light to a National Supercomputing Mission,
which is expected to cost 450 billion rupees (€6.6bn)
over seven years. The resource will be set up and steered
by government departments in collaboration with the
Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and
the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. A supercomputing grid will be set up, comprising more than
70 high-performance computing facilities, and a highspeed National Knowledge Network will connect these to
academic institutions and R&D labs.
Australia creates advanced health research centres
The government of Australia has announced the first
four medical research centres to be set up under a strate-

by Justus Wanzala


annually for research and innovation since 2008. The
National Research Fund, which was established under
the Science and Technology Innovation Act of 2013, is
intended to increase this amount.
“The current investments in R&D remain low. We
intend to increase research funding to 2 per cent of GDP
through partnership with key stakeholders, including
the private sector and foundations,” said Kaimenyi.
Kenya’s funding for research amounts to 0.5 per cent
of the country’s GDP. This is more than the percentage
for the least research-intensive countries worldwide
(which spend about 0.2 per cent), but less than the 1 per
cent spent in middle-income countries such as India.
Kenya, however, is a signatory to the African Union protocol that obliges member states to commit 1 per cent of
their GDP to supporting scientific research.
Kenya is the latest country in Africa to move towards
creating a national research fund. Ghana, Nigeria,
Senegal, South Africa and Uganda have already
announced or implemented similar funds.
gy developed in 2014 by the National Health and Medical
Research Council. They are the Alfred Hospital and
Monash University medical research and health precinct
in Melbourne; Melbourne Health Partners; the South
Australian Advanced Health Research and Translation
Centre; and Sydney Health Partners.
More science promotion jobs in Canada
Canada is to increase its spending on science promotion activities to 10.9 million Canadian dollars (€7.9m)
a year to help encourage more young Canadians to
study science subjects. The funding will include $3.6m
to support 66 projects under PromoScience, which supports community-based science camps and outreach
activities. Funded projects include Let’s Talk Science,
which will receive $102,000 over three years for projects related to space exploration; and Actua, which will
receive $510,000 over three years to develop science
programmes that target at-risk youths.
Health funder reports NZ$85m revenue
New Zealand’s Health Research Council, which is under
review by the government, has presented its 2014 annual
report to parliament. The HRC, which supported 773 fulltime-equivalent staff last year, says its revenue was
85 million New Zealand dollars (€59m) in 2013-14, and
that it invested NZ$80m in health research. The council
managed 433 individual contracts for health research or
health research workforce development in 2014, and has
committed to spending NZ$209m over the next five years.

20  inside out

Research Europe, 2 April 2015

W inning formula Since its inception, the Mars One
project to send humans to colonise Mars has been the
subject of scepticism over its funding model. But the
latest revelations from Joseph Roche, an astrophysicist
at Trinity College Dublin’s school of education who was
shortlisted as an applicant, reveal that potential astronauts are ranked by a system of points that can mainly be
gained by buying merchandise from Mars One. Applicants
are also encouraged to accept payments for media interviews, and donate 75 per cent of profits to the initiative.
Sounds like a sound self-financing plan after all.
P rivy research Following on from the Open Science
movement, the latest trend in research appears to be
Open Humans: an online portal that encourages participants to take part in research by “open sourcing
themselves”. Suggested activities include uploading a
medical history and donating blood samples. But those
who are really dedicated can even participate in a study
on the human digestive tract, by sending in pieces of
used loo roll. It’s true that sharing is caring, but this
might be a step too far.
Behind the times At a Science 2.0 conference in Hamburg,
Geoffrey Rockwell, a professor of philosophy from the
University of Alberta, Canada, gave an amusing talk on
humanities and open science. Referring to his subject as

a “useless” and often “solitary” pursuit, Rockwell said
the humanities did have one claim to fame: it founded
the original citizen science project, the Oxford English
Dictionary, in 1879. He then proceeded to state with no
hint of irony that crowdsourcing could be used to revolutionise the next generation of humanities research. It
seems that the best ideas take the longest.
G uilt - free hangover Those with a penchant for ale
will be pleased to hear that engineers at the Technical
University of Denmark have teamed up with Danish
brewery Carlsberg and the packaging company ecoXpac to create a biodegradable bottle for beer. It’s no
easy task, as the paper must be able to withstand bottling pressure and transport damage, as well as having a
six-second production time. But luckily the researchers
have a three-year grant to tackle the challenge. Roll on
sustainable drinking.
T he generation game The decision of the former
Portuguese MEP Maria Da Graça Carvalho to take up a
post in the cabinet of Carlos Moedas, rather than remain
in Parliament as a lead negotiator on Horizon 2020
issues, has remained somewhat of a mystery—until now.
A little bird told us that Carvalho’s mother was in fact
Moedas’s high-school teacher, so it seems that advising
the commissioner runs in the family.

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