Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Appeal: Investing in frontier research is investing in Europe’s future.

12.07.2005


Europe has made great strides towards agreeing on a genuine new mechanism to fund frontier research – the European Research Council (ERC). This is a cornerstone for achieving the ambitions of the European Council (Lisbon agenda) to increase substantially Europe’s innovativeness and competitiveness. The aim is to boost fundamental research as a means to be a winner in a world wide knowledge-based economy.



What has been collectively achieved over the past three years by a coalition of many organizations of scientists in Europe, research councils and politicians is impressive and commendable. The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) was established last year to unify over 50 European organizations representing all scientific disciplines in their support of the ERC, and a manifesto stating the position of the scientific community was published in Science on August 6, 2004. The time has now come for the European Competitiveness Council, the European Parliament, and the European Commission to see to it that the ERC clears the last remaining hurdles and receives a strong budget commitment and a statute guaranteeing its independence.

The ERC will strengthen Europe’s science base by challenging the best and most original European scientists to develop ideas for breakthroughs at the frontiers of science, without the limitations existing in national funding systems or the target-oriented Framework Programmes. Science, taking its starting point in curiosity to understand something no one else understood so far, has always been a fertile soil and a necessary condition for long-term economic growth, employment and for improving the quality of life of our citizens. Europe has suffered from creating a contradiction between funding the science base and financing targeted research, and left the first to national prerogatives. We need both frontier research and targeted research, as there is no application without a discovery. A Euro spent on frontier research will trigger multiple Euros spent by industry. Important efforts elsewhere testify to this conviction with very significant increases in funding in the life sciences and nanosciences in the USA and in the Asian countries. Together with the creation of new funding organizations in the latter countries based on the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this will lead to a huge increase in basic science.


Because the ERC will set new standards for the promotion of frontier research, it will also create considerable momentum and inspiration for national research councils by challenging them to work with each other and with the ERC to create the best conditions for Europe’s science. Moreover, by providing a funding source that is freely, and under the same conditions accessible to scientists from across Europe, it creates a strong incentive for universities and research organizations to establish a stimulating working environment for promising young scientists and for large groups of the best and brightest. It is the best possible boost to the European university system.

To achieve all this, the ERC has to dispose of a budget that is commensurate with the socio-economic expectations. It should quickly become of the order of the budget of the larger national research councils, i.e. between 1.5 and 2 Billion € per year, otherwise its impact would not be felt. The annual budgets in the USA of NIH (28 Billion $) and NSF (5 Billion $) illustrate what it takes to make a continent-wide impact. Finally, for the ERC to be effective it must be totally independent. Within an overall framework of public accountability its governing body, consisting of high-level and respected scientists, must be free to determine policy, including which areas to support, which funding instruments to use, or which categories of scientists to focus on. Any appearance of dependence by subjugating it to a higher bureaucratic decision body is counter-productive and hence unacceptable.

The European Council has re-committed itself to keep Europe on the track of strengthening its economy through investing more in knowledge and being more effective in reaping the benefits created by this knowledge. The member states must realize that they cannot therefore be penny-wise and pound-foolish, and curtail national research budgets as the ERC’s rises. We must all work together. Reducing budgets or placing inappropriate restrictions on the scope of national councils is definitely not the way forward.

The Competitiveness Council, which during its Cardiff meeting will receive and discuss the recommendations of the Identification Committee for the ERC governing body (chaired by Lord Patten), has the historic opportunity and obligation to create an ERC that is fully independent and that has a budget commensurate with its promise for Europe’s economic and social future. This essential investment must be protected.

c.c. Members of the Competitiveness Council, Members of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the European Parliament

Claus Nowotny | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/medias/section_5/208/AppealFinalJune05.pdf
http://www.initiative-science-europe.org

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht New Master’s programme: University of Kaiserslautern educates experts in quantum technology
15.03.2017 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>