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New and Emerging Science and Technology. NEST. Alejandro MARTIN HOBDEY Unidad NEST DG RTD B-1 Madrid, 23 Noviembre 2005. Revisions of the NEST WP and last NEST Call for Proposals Practical information on this NEST PATHFINDER Call

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new and emerging science and technology

New and Emerging Science and Technology



Unidad NEST


Madrid, 23 Noviembre 2005

Revisions of the NEST WP and last NEST Call for Proposals

Practical information on this NEST PATHFINDER Call

Some brief info on the outcome of the last Call for Proposals on NEST PATHFINDER Topics 2004/2005

Pathfinder Topics 2005/2006

Cultural Dynamics

Measuring the Impossible

What it means to be human (CAs and SSAs only)

Synthetic Biology

Tackling Complexity in Science

Outline of presentation

revision of the nest wp 2005 06
NEST PATHFINDER Call: published on 27 October 2005, closing on 15 February 2006

This is the last Call for NEST; no further call for NEST ADVENTURE, INSIGHT, or SUPPORT

Call budget: €50M

Pre-proposal check open up to three weeks before deadline

Revision of theNEST WP 2005-06
“support research on specific topics that are identified during the course of implementation of FP6 on the basis of their urgency and potential for future societal, industrial or economic relevance.”



Ideas must come “bottom-up” from the science base

Open forum for ideas may be useful (ADVENTURE + INSIGHT proposals, NEST “ideas in-box”)

A “Structured dialogue” with the research community is required to make choices:

Search strategy within the science and technology “space”

Interaction with the research community structured over time to move from global assessment to specific choices



Definition of search strategy:

Areas of research where cross-disciplinary transfers of technique are creating new opportunities

Outside the frame of thematic priorities

Identification of candidate areas, on basis of research literature, foresight and other strategic analysis, plus open invitations for ideas

Iterative process of testing and refining choices:

Targeted workshops with external experts to explore candidate areas

Internal consultation with thematic priorities

High level consultation with EURAB, programme committee


“Structured dialogue”

Build and consolidate European capabilities in promising emerging (interdisciplinary) areas with high future potential for Europe in the long term.

Provide “early stage funding”: as ideas mature they should be translated into more conventional funding modes

Up to 10 Mio. EUR or more per topic (for several STREPS + one or more CAs)

Annual calls for proposals; several topics per call



Initial “blue sky” topic analysis (8 March 2005)

How Things Evolve: Evolution Outside of Biology

Laboratory of the Future; Speeding up the Discovery Process

Transmission of Culture

New Techniques for Molecular Imaging

Time in Biological Processes and Systems

More detailed “opportunity analysis” (3 May 2005)

Transmission of Culture

Work programme text preparation meeting (8 July 2005)

Cultural Dynamic: from transmission: and change to innovation

More details, summaries of meetings, list of participants, on NEST web site.

Main Workshops

this year

Each PATHFINDER initiative/topic will be composed ofseveral STREP projects submitted individually (not as clusters)

Proposals have to be submitted as FULL proposals (one stage evaluation process not two stages as in NEST-OPEN)

Proposers need to choose clearly one PATHFINDER initiative/topic they are addressing

Proposals will be evaluated and selected on their individual merits

Projects funded within a PATHFINDER initiative will be expected to develop a degree of interaction, exchange and cooperation

Project size expected to be in the 1.5-2.0 Mio. EUR range; 4 - 6 partners

STREP projects

Expect to fund one (exceptionally more) co-ordination action for each PATHFINDER initiative/topic

Co-ordination actions will be evaluated and selected at the same time as the STREP proposals

Role of co-ordination depends on topic

An added task will be to provide a means and venue of interaction for the chosen projects

Funding expected to be in the 1 to 1.5 MEuro range; 15 – 25 partners



Possibility of Support Actions open for each topic

Support actions will be evaluated and selected at the same time as the STREP proposals

Role of support depends on topic; do nit expect to fund “general” support actions on “general” topics

An added task will be to provide a means and venue of interaction for the chosen projects

Funding expected to be ~200.000 range

Support Actions

pathfinder topics last call
Tackling Complexity in Science

Synthetic Biology

Measuring the Impossible

Cultural Dynamics (New topic)

What it means to be human (only CAs and SSAs)

PATHFINDER: Topics Last Call

Practical Aspects and

Frequently Asked Questions

pathfinder reference documents
Reference documents available on NEST Web Site for each topic

Generated following iterative consultations with experts

Provide further practical guidance to proposers in terms of the scope, objectives, partnerships, etc

Proposers are strongly encouraged to consult and read over the documents prior to preparing proposals

Pathfinder Reference documents
pre proposal check service
Pre-proposal check service available up to 3 weeks prior to the deadline (that is: 11 January 2006)

Pre-proposal Forms: Guide for Proposers

Requested: project summary + partnership

Before submitting, ideas and partnership should be pretty clear and stable

NEST will give guidance regarding suitability of scope and eligibility, based on information submitted

Responses from the EC are simply for guidance and do not commit the Commission either way

Final decision on proposals made by external expert evaluators

Not a discussion forum!

Pre-proposals (PATHFINDER) and OUTLINE Proposals (ADVENTURE, INSIGHT) are something different

Pre-proposal check service
Evaluation will be performed first by sending proposals to remote referees for detailed technical evaluation

Following that, a Panel with wide ranging expertise will be brought together to choose the most outstanding proposals, and that form a complementary set

Evaluation expected to take place in April 2006, and initial results available before the end of July

Expert referees on these topics always needed / welcome (include NEST activity code) (

nest pathfinder information and brokerage event brussels nov dec 2005
Still Tentative…

Overall Information on Pathfinder

Parallel sessions on each topic

Chance to meet potential partners

Jointly organised with NCPs

NEST-PATHFINDER Information and Brokerage Event, Brussels, Nov/Dec 2005
previous call fp6 2004 nest path
Call budget 35M€

59 STREP proposals, 17 retained

4 CA proposals, 0 retained

5 SSA proposals, 1 retained

Previous Call:FP6-2004-NEST-PATH
Synthetic Biology

3 new STREPs funded out of 14 submitted(21% success rate)

1 SSA funded, no CAs

What it means to be human

8 new STREPs funded out of 21 submitted(38% success rate)

No CAs or SSAs

Measuring the Impossible

6 STREPs funded out of 24 submitted(25% success rate)

No CAs or SSAs

Previous Call:FP6-2004-NEST-PATH

background motivation
Complexity is a critical challenge towards progress in many areas of Science (e.g. biology, cognitive science)

Increasing need to understand behaviour of ever more complicated man made systems (e.g. electrical grid) – Technological Systems

Same is true of natural phenomena such as weather, geology, etc – Natural Systems

Also true of understanding human networks (social, political, enterprise, etc) – Social Systems

Common approach and techniques emerging to dealing with complex problems in science and technology

Background / motivation
objectives of initiative
Bring together high level groups in Complex Systems Science and others in specific disciplines to tackle important problems where complexity is a key issue

Extend and generalise techniques used in one area to other areas of science (“generalisability”)

Help structure and co-ordinate the complexity field in Europe

Objectives of initiative
emphasis and approach
Use of tools and techniques of complex systems science such as:

Representing complex systems as networks, and networks of networks, etc

“Emergence”: key characteristic of complex systems

Predictability and extreme events

Transfer or extension of successful techniques from one area of science to another

Projects should take a practical problem solving approach, grounded in (experimental, real) data

Emphasis and approach
some possible topics
Biology, Health, Medicine

Bio-complexity, Cellular signalling and regulation processes, animal biology (BIOPHOT, STARFLAG, EMBIO, BRACCIA, etc)

Social Sciences

Emergence and robustness of social institutions, financial markets, etc (COMPLEXMARKETS, COL-PLEXITY, CAVES

Environmental Sciences

Predictability and distribution of extreme events in natures, such as earthquakes, floods, weather, ecology (E2C2)

Particularly interested in projects that help bridge gap between physical sciences, and social and other natural sciences

Some possible topics
possible co ordination actions
Already have a “General Coordination Action” linking together the already funded PATHFINDER projects in the initiative: “GIACS”

Expect that new funded projects will have some link to GIACS in some formal or informal way

Expect newly proposed CAs to focus on particular scientific areas or approaches to complexity

Possible Co-ordination Actions
possible support actions
Focussed Actions of more limited scope

One to two years of duration

Budget range: up to 250.000 €

Sort of activities envisaged: science mapping, foresight, conference or large work-shop, etc

It would make sense if there were a link between the SSA and the already supported activities in the NEXT- Complexity initiative

Possible Support Actions
examples of topics not included
Research of a purely theoretical nature

ICT – IT related research (FET initiative)

Purely industrial or engineering nature

Financial research not related to social sciences (eg. Stock market analysis)

Research of limited interdisciplinary nature

Proposals whose primary focus lies in one of the other Pathfinder Initiatives

Research in Thematic Priorities

Examples of topics not included
pathfinder initiative on synthetic biology christian krassnig 2005

PATHFINDER initiative on

Synthetic Biology

Christian KRASSNIG


1st Call 2003, 2nd Call 2004

30 proposals received (7 STREPs, 1SSA funded)

Refinement of reference document for 3rd Call

Expert Group delivered report (to develop a broader strategy for the area)

Limited number of STREP proposals

A lot of proposals not regarded as within the scope of the Call

Lack of ambition in terms of the « technology vision »

No particular interest in safety issues linked to the topic

No Coordination Action(s)

Issues not covered (1st and 2nd Call)

To understand how cells work you need more than a « list » of parts

Systems biology provides knowledge how parts of the cell operate together

New tools available such as computer models and bio-informatics, rapid synthesis, better experimental techniques to explore gene interactions

Why is this topic emerging?

It will drive industry, research, employment, education in a way that might rival the computer industry’s development during the 1970s to the 1990s

Progress will be made much faster and in a much more organized way

It will enable developments of complex systems not achievable by evolutionary and screening procedures

If the « engineering of biology » becomes available it will be used for more and more day-to-day applications

Main vision – Biotechnology that works

Major change through Synthetic Biology will be achieved by integration of existing disciplines.

Biology and engineering, computer modeling, information technology, control theory, chemistry and nanotechnology

Synthetic Biology is primarily not concerned with investigating how nature works, but is ultimately about a new way of making things.

Main directions

objective s


The DESIGN and ENGINEERING of biologically based (or inspired) PARTS or SYSTEMS with:

New standardised functionalities NOT present in NATURE

High level of internal complexity

Logical or complex dynamical behaviour

specific target research projects streps 1
Demonstration of mastering control over key biological processes.

Development and application of robust modules amenable to standardisation.

Combination of rigorous engineering methods and high-quality science, involving adequate expertise in core engineering disciplines.

Specific Target Research Projects (STREPs) (1)
specific target research projects streps 2

Specific Target Research Projects (STREPs) (2)

  • Demonstration of real capacity to drive new discoveries and theories
  • and/or
  • Proof of concrete applicability to model areas.
co ordination action ca
Co-ordination of existing and future research projects.

Networking of European activities in relevant fields

Intellectual and material infrastructure requirements of synthetic biology

Perspectives and strategies for innovation and industrial translation, including intellectual property

Societal acceptance, including ethical, safety and regulatory aspects

Co-ordination Action (CA)
specific support actions ssas
Tackling practical questions related to the field.

To assist in the mapping and development of the definition of the field in question.

Assessing future development prospects and trends in the field.

Specific Support Actions (SSAs)
what research will not be pursued

What research will NOT be pursued ?

  • Research whose main focus is computational, combinatorial or biomimetic chemistry.
  • Research on functional genomics and proteomics.
  • Single-component genetic engineering and classical biotechnology, including classical metabolic engineering.
  • Research on structural biology and systems biology mainly aimed at the generation of basic knowledge.
  • Protein engineering or chemistry in its classical sense.
  • Research on tissue engineering.
  • Research on artificial organs and bionics implants, and other research on classical biomedical engineering.
  • Research related to Artificial Life (as the term is used by the ICT community e.g. life-like machines or computers).
pathfinder initiative on measuring the impossible carlos saraiva martins 2005
PATHFINDER initiative on

Measuring the Impossible





Interdisciplinary research

Novel investigative methods

Significant advance in the scientific basis for rigorous measurements of phenomena

Intrinsically multidisciplinary and mediated by

human interpretation and/or perception

“support research on specific topics that are identified during the course of implementation of FP6 on the basis of their urgency and potential for future societal, industrial or economic relevance.”



why this initiative

Why this initiative ?

…becomes a general concern for science, business and public authorities …

Science- strong cross-over between physical, biological and social sciences

Business- products and services appeal to consumers according to parameters of quality, beauty, comfort which are mediated by human perception

Public authorities- provide citizens with support and services whose performance is measured according to parameters of life quality, security or well being

measuring the impossible

Measuring the impossible

“Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what isn’t”

Descartes (1596-1650)

measuring the impossible45

Measuring the impossible

“ If you can not measure it

and/or what it means”


=> how can you improve it ? ”

measuring the impossible46

Measuring the impossible

It is simply impossible to find out what a test measures, without knowing how it works

Tables of correlations are unable to fill this gap, because what is lacking is not data, but theory

A radical shift in orientation is needed in our thinking about measurements and validity

measuring the impossible47

Measuring the impossible

Food industry – chemical and physical analysis combined with empirical psychometric studies moved to

…a more systemic understanding of the ways in which the physical world is mediated via the senses and the internal processing of signs in the human brain

measuring the impossible48

Measuring the impossible

But, is it possible to measure the role of memory in the appreciation of food?

….Or the food-addictive behaviour?

Predicting food selection

How to make “healthy choice the easy choice” ?

specific target research projects streps
Fundamental scientific advances supported by interdisciplinary research and novel investigative methods for the measurement of intrinsically multidimensional phenomena, and which are mediated by human interpretation and/or perception.Specific Target Research Projects (STREPs)
Focus on measurement

Multidimensional phenomena

Mediated by human interpretation and/or perception

Interdisciplinary research

Novel investigative methods

Concrete and tangible objectives

Well posed problems and measurement challenges

Long-term impact in terms of advancing science

Measuring the impossible

STREP Characteristics

co ordination action
to act as a forum for the development and exchange of ideas of active players

to promote a wider understanding of the implications of research across the various relevant disciplines, as regards measurement

to bring together experts in metrology, material scientists, biologists, psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, sociologists, ergonomic experts to take up work in this “field”

to provide a degree of coordination and interaction between the research projects ultimately selected in this initiative

Measuring the impossible

Co-ordination Action
specific support actions s
to assist in the mapping and development of the definition of the field in question, assessing future development prospects and trends in the field.

to discuss the contextual aspects of the measurement (social, institutional, economic, political, etc)

to re-think assumptions about measuring systems and how uncertainties are treated.

Measuring the impossible

Specific Support Actions (s)

1st Call


2 CA



30 proposals

It corresponds to 50% of PATHFINDER submissions




(20% success rate / ~ 11M€ )


1st Call

Recommended PROJECTS

BioEmergences – towards the measurement of the individual susceptibility to diseases or responses to treatments

BrainTuning – to resolve the neural determinants of music emotions. What are the biological determinants of music appreciation?

Closed – Objective measurement of functional-aesthetic sound qualities of artefacts

Fuga - Measuring the human experience of media enjoyment – the fun of gaming

MONAT – Measurement of Naturalness

SysPAQ – Measurement of perceived air quality

measuring the impossible55

Measuring the impossible

Ethical Issues:

Use of animals and GMOs (replacement, reduction, refinement) / research with children and infants

Informed consent procedures

Personal data protection and anonymisation

Long term storage of sensitive data

Social implications of research

scientific areas involved 1
Scientific areas involved (1)


BioEmergences (6 academic + 1 industrial partner) biology, toxicology, computational vision, applied mathematics, cognitive science, computer science, optics/physics)

BrainTuning (6 academic partners) cognitive neuroscience, computational modelling, music acoustics, neuroimaging, psychology, music perception)

CLOSED(3 academic + 1 industrial partners) – acoustics, computer science, signal processing, neurosciences,

scientific areas involved 2
Scientific areas involved (2)


FUGA (6 academic partners) applied psychology, computer science, human-computer interaction, communication, psychotherapy, experimental psychobiology, media technology

MONAT (6 academic + 1 industrial partners) cognitive neurosciences, psychology, metrology, mathematical modelling, sensor technology, neuroimaging

SysPAQ (7 academic + 3 industrial partners) aerodynamics, civil engineering, sensory perception, psychology, materials, analytical chemistry, instrumentation, indoor climate technology


Feedback for first call

( + )

  • Successful call with many interesting projects integrating different fields of science
  • Projects of very high quality with the participation of highly renown institutions and scientists

( - )

  • A topic as complex as “Measuring the Impossible“ needs time to develop
  • Some problems with the scope and the instruments
feedback for first call
Feedback for first call
  • CA - (2) - complexity; cluster of 3 STREPs
  • SSA - (4) - research with one or two partners
  • STREP – (18)
  • (NO Relevance + YES excellence) - 2
  • (~ Relevance + ~ excellence) - 5
  • (OK Relev + ~ excellence - 4
  • (NO Relev + NO excellence - 7
second call
Focussed on perception/interpretation

Problems => last call => resubmissions


Second call
measuring the impossible61

Measuring the impossible

We are looking forward to the measurement environment in 20 years, which is expected to involve a strong component of interpretation and perception

“Hard and soft sciences interdisciplinarity should be developed and the distances and similarities between them urgently discussed”

Measuring the Impossible is a good example and a fantastic opportunity to create excellence is a very interdisciplinary topic


PATHFINDER initiative on

Cultural Dynamics

from transmission and change to innovation



cultural dynamics from transmission and change to innovation
Outcome of topic selection process over the last year (“structured dialogue” - full details on NEST web site)Cultural Dynamics: from transmission and change to innovation
why this initiative64

Why this initiative ?

  • Culture impacts all sectors of human life (poverty, global change, education etc)
  • Interactions between culture and technology : global communication networks, media
  • Objective is to develop better scientific tools and methods to understand culture transmission, change and innovation.
what research will be pursued

What research will be pursued ?

  • Research including the cognitive correlates of cultural phenomena: culture control vs. resistance; effects of cultural variables on behaviour ;
  • Interactions between cultural markets: public policies, trade integration, culture and power
  • Interactions between culture and technology; Cultural changes brought about by modern technologies (influence and resistance to these)
  • Research on new predictive models linking and understanding diverse phenomena: health epidemics, consumer behaviour, economic markets, social networks
what research will not be pursued66

What research will NOT be pursued ?

  • Pure empirical research
  • Single component data collections e.g. social behaviour
  • Classical research on cognitive systems in general
  • Research which could be carried out under the TPs
  • Research which is mono-disciplinary
specific target research projects streps67
The research supported by this initiative through Specific Targeted Research Projects will be aimed at bringing together from different fields of science, technology, the social sciences and humanities, concepts, data and analytical methods, to promote a better understanding and predictive capacity relating to transmission, change and innovation in human culture.Specific Target Research Projects (STREPs)
co ordination action68
Proposals for Co-ordination Actions are strongly encouraged. They should focus on cross-disciplinary networking, in relation to particular areas of cultural dynamics, or particular research methods or analytical approaches.

Networking of European activities in relevant fields

Co-ordination Action
specific support actions
To assist in the mapping and development of the definition of the field in question, assessing future development prospects and trends in the field.Specific Support Actions
pathfinder initiative on what it means to be human shamila nair bedouelle 2005

PATHFINDER initiative on

“What it means to be human”




Overall objectives

  • This initiative aims to investigate why humans are different:
    • What features make our cognitive abilities unique?
    • What are the origins of these features?
  • Why this question?:
    • Today, a more integrated understanding of the human mind/brain and its specific features should open up new scientific opportunities
    • It provides a way to bring together cognitive sciences and related disciplinary areas that can all contribute to explore the opportunities at the interface
scientific objectives
Projects may have different individual objectives.  However, they must address “what features make human cognitive abilities unique, and what are the origins of these features?” 

focus on higher cognitive faculties, (thinking, reasoning, using language) and individual cognitive development (in the context of social and cultural factors)

take a comparative and evolutionary perspective

be highly interdisciplinary

In all cases however, the research must address the key question: why are humans different?

Scientific objectives

2 CAs


24 submissions

21 STREPs / 8 funded

~13.5 Mio. €

  • SSA : ineligible
  • 2 CA‘s: not retained for funding
  • STREPS Scientific projects:
  • 9 Cognitive science
  • 7 Neuroscience
  • 3 Anthropology
  • 2 Linguistics
examples of projects and scientific areas involved
Examples of projects and scientific areas involved


The formation and use of abstract concepts by humans. Research will focus on how abstract concepts in different languages and cultures are represented in the mind/brain and how they are learnt during childhood.


What makes us smart? Focussing on structural complexity in language acquisition and other cognitive systems e.g.natural numbers.

Paul Broca II:

Neural and genetic features that distinguish Homo sapiens; human brain asymmetry : link to language and genes



  • Successful second call, transcdiciplinary integrative projects
  • Already have a critical mass of projects from the previous 2 calls
  • Therefore : Would like to have a CA or CAs to coordinate and bring together people in areas of ongoing research
  • Next call: only CAs and SSAs
  • Commission set up an Expert Group to examine new scientific opportunities and assess the potential for a concerted research program in this area (Brochures)