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European research funding ERC: New possibilities for scientific community

European research funding ERC: New possibilities for scientific community

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European research funding ERC: New possibilities for scientific community

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  1. European research fundingERC: New possibilities for scientific community Leena Palotie Akatemiaprofessori Biomedicum Helsinki

  2. Science and research today • Extremely competitive • International operations necessary • Funding very tight and competitive • Recruitment of top experts and future talents critical and more and more challenging • Dependent of the positive attitudes of public and decision makers

  3. NIH: 28 Billion Dollars • A role model for major European funding bodies (Wellcome trust) • Fair evaluation, professional evaluation and management infrastructure • Funding decisions transparent, based on the peer evaluations • Joint efforts with European (and other) funding agencies in global projects • Excellent interaction and communication with investigators

  4. Problems to be solved by European research funding • No European Investigator-driven grants: only integrated projects/networkd • Relative lack of experts in the review process (inbreeding) • Lack of long term funding (5-7 years) • Small grants distributed ”evenly” • Transparency and feed back of the review process to scientists deficient • Deficient follow up of the progress of projects • Underdeveloped strategic thinking resulting in poor planning • European tradition and training in writing of the proposals is very weak

  5. Marie Curie Fellowships • Post-Doctoral Fellowships Individual Fellowships ( 35 years or younger, 12-24 months) Return Fellowships(previous MC,12 months) Industry Host Fellowships • Senior Researchers Experienced Researchers Fellowships (10 years of postdoctoral research experience, 3-12 months)

  6. European Research Council • On 21th of September 2005 the Commission adopted the ”Ideas” specific program under the 7th framwork program which will implement ERC • Budget 7.46 M €/ 7years) • Scientific Council of ERC was established in summer 2005 and it’s task is to prepare the strategy and operative models of ERC during 2006

  7. Scientific strategy of ERC • Create a European Investigator driven granting system • Funding based solely in excellence • Reverse the brain drain, attract young scientists to Europe • Should there be limits on the size of grants given by the ERC? Yes, size of NIH/NSF R01 ~300K/year) • How will the criterion of excellence be reflected in calls for proposals? By the excellence of review panels • How will the objective of funding ”high risk” research be pursued? Multidisciplinary panels, ”earmarked” funding • Specifically what strategy should be applied to ensure the support of young investigators? The first call targeted to investigators with <10 years from PhD

  8. ERC Funding: Investigator initiated grants • Fixed deadlines : The first call opened in December • Starting Independent Researcher Grants (ERC StG) For young stars, < 10 years from Ph.D • ERC Advanced Investigator Grants (ERC Advanced Grants) For already established investigators • Transparent evaluation, Funding based on the excellence of the applicant and excellence of the proposal • Only one active ERC grant/investigator at one time

  9. ERC Funding: logistics • Registration as an applicant electronically • First round: Letter of intent, ”standardized” information collected, a short description of research • Second round: Full proposal, letters from the institute and background organization(s) • Evaluation by experts panels (cross disciplinary proposals encouraged and evaluated across the panels) • Interviews in Brussels for ERC StG applicants

  10. Panels for peer review (www. • Physical sciences and engineering (8) • Humanities and social sciences (5) • Life sciences (7) • 10 members for each subpanel, a high profile chair for each (28% of panel members women) • Panels are made known to applicants • Applicant chooses 1-2 panels, most competent to evaluate the application

  11. Funding and reporting • P.I. is the grant recipient, he/she can take the grant with him/her if transferring from an institute to another • Institute is the grant receiver and responsible for fiscal reporting • 20% fixed indirect cost Reporting: • Brief annual scientific progress report and fiscal report (institute) • More extended scientific report at the end of the funding period • No deliverables • IRP rights : Institute of the P.I.

  12. Finnish strengths • Good track record in basic education • Excellent national consensus of the importance of research (Council of Science and Technology) • Center of Excellence and Biocenter Finland-type concepts provide the basis for ”European” competence centers, should facilitate the docking of junior investigators • A small community provides possibilities for national strategies and integration of cross-disciplinary expertise • Special societal and infrastructure-based strengths

  13. Finnish weaknesses • Scanty interactions between funding agencies • Underdeveloped debate- and discussion culture • ”Democratic” distribution of funding but based on institutes, not on individuals • Small grants, no concept of recruitment • Rigid structure of universities (professorships, departmental structure) • Lack of philantropy • Evaporating resource of clinical scientists • Lack of tenure track

  14. Recruitment of international students and scientists still very limited • Centers of excellence in the areas of special strengths (”innovations are societal, not technical”) • Maximal synergy and integration should be created across traditional boundaries • Long term funding of critical infrastructure, better integration of operations of critical ministries and funding agencies • More strategic planning and profiling nationally and locally • Better structured graduate and postgraduate training

  15. Kansainvälinen lääketieteen tutkimuskeskus Meilahteen • Tieteellinen uskottavuus (Neljä Akatemian huippuyksikköä) • Kyky rekrytoida kansainvälisesti (Ulkolaisten tutkijoiden määrä) • Erinomaiset kansainväliset yhteistyöverkot (Nordic Center of Excellence, EU-hankkeiden johtajuus) • Hyvä tutkimuksen infrastruktuuri (HYKS, Biocentrum,GIU,KTL, Biocenter Finland) • Hyvä koulutusmiljöö (Tutkijakoulut ja näyttö tohtorikoulutuksessa) • Strateginen keskittyminen vahvuusalueille (Tiedekunnan tutkimusohjelmat) • Pitkäjänteinen rahoitussuunnitelma: • Voimien yhdistäminen kansallisesti poikki ministeriörajojen (OPM,STM.KTM) • Kansainvälisen rahoituksen hankkiminen (EU,NIH,Suuret säätiöt)

  16. Novel concepts need new structures Leroy Hood Biomedicum lecture 2005

  17. Science • Science is not accounting, it is not pedestrian. Science if actually rather treachurous. It takes a lot of courage, commitment and ego to take an observation or hypothesis that challenges the rest and move it along. Bernanide Healy, Director of NIH 1991-93