Funding

All aspects of research funding, in its full complexity

Brain drain reversal requires counter-intuitive support measures

Reversing the brain drain from Eastern Europe may require a bit of counter-intuitive intervention. Instead of supporting the best brains from Eastern Europe to work in Western Europe, why not do the opposite? In this opinion piece, Gergely Buday, an academic in Eastern Hungary, shares his views on the best use of European funding to build expertise on the regions that need it most in Europe. Read more [...]
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Radical funding overhaul needed to empower researchers

Funding research effectively is a demanding exercise. Young scientists gathered in Bratislava in July 2016 published a wish list for a definite overhaul of the funding system. The key to the change is to empower researchers. The proposals will be annexed to the conclusions of the EU Competitiveness Council of research and innovation ministers and tabled for adoption at the Competitiveness Council on 29 November 2016 in Brussels. Read more [...]
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Research and education budgets in shambles in Denmark and Finland

Recent changes in the political landscape in Northern Europe have brought some new policies that are less supportive of science and education than previously. This is a major shift for Denmark and Finland, which have until now invested 3% of GPD in research and development. Time will tell whether such research and education cuts are a mere bleep on these countries record, or whether they will bear long-term consequences. Read more [...]
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A final plea to save Portuguese science

A group representing various research centres in Portugal met, on 27th July 2015, the recently appointed president of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Maria Arménia Carrondo. This was a plea to reverse the latest round of budget cuts to research centres. Unfortunately, the meeting did not produce positive results. Meanwhile, a report by an international panel that evaluated FCT’s policy and functioning in quite a eulogistic manner, also failed to address this issue of budget cuts in detail. So what needs to happen? Read more [...]
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FCT head resigns, amid Portuguese research community survival plea

A new episode in the controversy related to the evaluation of Portuguese research units has recently been played out. The high profile resignation of the president of the Portuguese funding agency FCT in March 2015, is yet another chapter in an unfinished murky business. Now that half of the country’s research units have been earmarked for closure, the science community is attempting to fight back to save the fate of the country’s research talents, built over the past few decades by pouring large amounts of tax payers’ money to create such science expertise. Read more [...]
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Spring of discontent in the European science community

The new Juncker Commission is attempting to tackle the sluggish economic climate by introducing a punchy new plan. It involves the creation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment to invest in job creation and growth. This initiative has generally been welcome. Except that the proposal involves taking €2.7 billion away from Horizon 2020, the very programme supposed to produce the innovations that would contribute to the growth of the economy. This has triggered uproar in the European science community. This reaction was further compounded by criticism from the European Court of Auditors pointing to the many gaps in the proposed plan. Finally, additional concerns that further funding restrictions could be imposed on the way structural funds are permitted to be used have also emerged, given that research features low on the list of EC priorities. Read more [...]
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Research funding: Science in the firing line as Europe fails to pay

As the three-week conciliation period on the EU 2015 budget started on 28th October 2014, research in Europe is facing a funding crisis. And this time, the harbingers of doom are not grumbling scientists, gloomy economists or critical journalists, but powerful voices within the European Commission (EC) itself. Read more [...]
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Joining the dots: unprecedented level of pan-European research activism

Research activism in Europe is about to transcend borders. Forthcoming protests movements planned for around mid-October in France, Italy and Spain are not a coincidence. Scientists will rally their respective capitals—be it on their bike or on foot—as a result of unprecedented concerted planning. Up until recently, the scientists involved did not collaborate across borders to campaign for a change in their own working environment. Yet, they are no strangers to international collaboration when it comes to collaborative research projects. So what triggered this shift in attitude? Read more [...]
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Repeated research protests on the streets of Madrid

Doing science in Spain is like crying. This well-known quote from one of the most famous Spanish scientist, Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón Cajal, seems more pertinent today than ever. For that reason, Spanish scientists took to the streets of Madrid on 26th September 2014, in a protest dubbed the Red Tide for Science—Marea Roja por la Ciencia. These protests reflect the sense of hopelessness, which pervades research centres and universities around the country, as scientists are leaving in droves. Another demonstration is scheduled in Madrid on the 17th October 2014 to coinciding with the arrival in Paris of the French movement Science en Marche. and the protest in Rome, Per la Scienza, Per la cultura the next day. Read more [...]
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Italian scientists protest against budget cuts, crocodile tears included

In the successful Italian comedy, Smetto quando voglio (I can quit whenever I want), a group of young and talented scholars with no career perspective turns into a successful drug-dealing mob. The story is imaginary—a surreal rendition of Breaking Bad—but it is also the portrait of Italian academia. There, the shortage of funds, baronies, and scant meritocracy hamper the careers of many endowed scientists. This fiction is not that far from reality. Now, as an attempt to change their working conditions, Italian researchers are planning a protest movement in October, to take a stand against budget cuts and political apathy. There is no doubt that such movement is justified, but there is also a need for academics to run their universities better. Read more [...]
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For the sake of Italian science and culture

Italian scientific research and university systems are in a dramatic position. The poisonous fruit of the recently approved university reform—referred to as the Gelmini law— assisted by the actions of successive governments, are reaching their goal: downsizing the university system and introducing a political control, never attempted before, on basic research. Now a vast movement of researchers across Europe is organising a series of initiatives during the autumn with the aim of bringing research and innovation to the public attention and at the centre of governments’ action. Read more [...]
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