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Wilhelm Krull Taking the Initiative. Risks and Opportunities in Research Funding Perspectives of Research – Identification and Implementation of Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Wilhelm Krull Taking the Initiative. Risks and Opportunities in Research Funding Perspectives of Research – Identification and Implementation of Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wilhelm Krull Taking the Initiative. Risks and Opportunities in Research Funding Perspectives of Research – Identification and Implementation of Research Topics by Organizations Schloß Ringberg, May 3rd, 2006

2 Some Characteristic Features of Researchers, Politicians and Foundation Staff Foundation people like to deal with risks and even with uncertainties, and if they don‘t know how to solve the problem, they still remain confident that they can find someone more knowledgeable to help them. Researchers are sceptical to begin with, but they are usually convinced that a new approach (paradigm, method, technique) can be developed and subsequently contribute to finding a solution. Politicians usually are activists, or at least have to pretend that they do something useful. In any case, they can‘t afford to admit that they have not succeeded in solving the problem. In a dark room – searching for a black cat which isn‘t there – they take the following approaches... Search Processes and Their Surprising Results

3 I.Changes and Challenges II.Strengths and Weaknesses III.Pre-Conditions of Creative Cultures and What Funding Organizations Can Do 1. Competence 2. Courage 3. Communication 4. Innovativeness 5. Persistency/Perseverance 6. Diversity 7. Serendipity IV.The Role of Foundations V.More Research-Friendly Institutional Structures and Processes VI.Institutes for Advanced Study VII.Conclusion

4 „Change is the only thing in the world which is unchanging.“ Heraclites I. Changes and Challenges

5 Political Challenges Since the late 1980s, Europe has been witnessing dramatic changes in its political and economic structures. During the next 20 years, Europe’s economic paradigm will change fundamentally. While the manufacturing base will continuously shrink, future growth and social welfare will rely increasingly on knowledge- intensive products and services. An ageing continent will have to innovate intensely. Priority-setting will become even more important in the future. I. Changes and Challenges

6 Major Changes and Challenges in Research and Higher Education  Electronic Impact on the creation, distribution, and absorption of new knowledge.  The increased emphasis on transdisciplinary approaches.  The move from bi-, or trilateral internationalisation towards network approaches and strategic alliances in higher education and research.  The changing public private interface and its consequences for the division of labour in our RTD systems.  The need to integrate evaluation, foresight and priority-setting, and to increase public involvement.  The growing public concern about recent scientific developments, particularly in the area of stem cell research and the use of the human genome. I. Changes and Challenges

7 R&D Expenditure as a Percentage of GDP in the EU, China, Japan and the USA in EU-Goal 3% EU-15 USA Japan China in Bill. € I. Changes and Challenges

8 Performance Indicators In the 2005 Shanghai University ranking of the best universities, only two of the top 20 were European, while 17 were American. Among the Top 500 we find 40 German universities, 38 British, and 168 American universities. EU USA Japan China RegionTertiary graduates 2001 Growth per year in (%) PhD graduates 2001 Researchers per 1000 labour force 2003 II. Strengths and Weaknesses

9 Publication of Scientific Papers. Proportion of total papers published in % Europe United States Asia-Pacific region The EU represents the largest source of scientific publications II. Strengths and Weaknesses

10 European Research in Global Competition  Europe faces increased global competition – particularly in the field of research and technological development  The rapid growth of scientific output in Asia-Pacific nation is in stark contrast to slow growth in Europe and stagnation in the US. Within six or seven years the Asia Pacific region will exceed the US.  In a number of relative indicators – such as publications per inhabitant, per scientist or publications per million Euros spent in our universities – the EU also leads the US and Japan.  In ‘triad patents’ per million spent in business R&D, some European countries – Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands – clearly outperform Japan and the US.  Research is not supported sufficiently in Europe, particularly with respect to risky, open-ended ‘frontier research’. III. Strengths and Weaknesses

11 The Rapidity of Change and the Slowness of Institutional Response  Europe has been loosing ground in the field of basic breakthroughs. Fifty years ago, European scientists dominated the Nobel Price lists. Today, Nobel prices and similarly prestigious awards are won mainly by scientists working in the USA.  The gap in R&D-investments between the EU and the US is steadily increasing.  Apart from a few research areas such as astrophysics, space research, nuclear physics, and molecular biology, Europe suffers from an almost total lack of transnational support of basic and strategic research.  More emphasis on excellence and transnational competition (ERC) may help to reverse the trend. III. Strengths and Weaknesses

12 Pre-Conditions of Creative Cultures and what Funding- Organisations Can Do  Competence  Courage  Communication  Diversity  Persistency/Perseverance  Innovativeness  Serendipity III. Pre-Conditions of Creative Cultures

13 1. Competence Differentiation in quality and excellence Competence can best be developed in an intellectually stimulating environment. It takes time, trust, and considerable investments. Concentration of funding not just on researchers that are already excellent, but also on those who have the potential to become excellent. – Attracting the next generation. ‘Talens scouts’ needed? 1. Competence

14 Attracting the next Generation of Researchers  Identify the most promising undergraduates early on.  Qualifications gained in national institutions must be valid throughout Europe.  Young researchers should pursue their own ideas much earlier and more independently. Because German researchers finish their doctoral training at the average age of 33, their need to gain scientific independence quickly is even greater and more difficult to achieve than for their counterparts in countries where the graduation age is much lower.  The flow of highly qualified researchers between countries and between private and public sectors requires more flexibility and permeability.  Universities and research institutions have to provide attractive career prospects, including tenure track options. 1. Competence

15 How Should Young Researchers be Trained in Their Disciplines?  A more structured graduate and doctoral education is necessary  New curricula also have to comprise non-disciplinary topics such as - intellectual property, - science ethics, - history of the discipline, - interpersonal communication, - media skills  The aim should be to enable the researcher to explain and communicate - what his research is about, - how he is conducting it, - and especially why he is doing it  He or she should become a ‘steward of a discipline’. 1. Competence

16 ‚Steward of a Discipline‘ „The Ph.D. holder should be capable of generating new knowledge and defending knowledge claims against challenges and criticism; of conserving the most important ideas and findings that are a legacy of past and current work; and of transforming knowledge that has been generated and conserved into powerful pedagogies of engagement, understanding and application […]” “The formulation of stewardship is discipline-specific. […] We are committed to locating this initiative in the context of each discipline, recognizing that there will be discipline-specific lessons as well as cross- disciplinary insights to be gained.” George Walker, Senior Scholar Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 1. Competence

17 2. Courage Researchers and funders must both be courageous and adventurous. Based on their autonomy, foundations can and should provide incentives for research in promising areas and stimulate new developments. They should use their independence to  make offers to researchers in fields that are underdeveloped, or appear to be particularly promising  support high-risk projects which do not receive public support  foster research in and on regions and countries that are not on current political agendas. 2. Courage

18 Examples from The Funding-Portfolio of The Volkswagen Foundation (I) Dynamics and Adaptivity of Neuronal Systems: Integrative Approaches to Analyzing Cognitive Functions.  Support of pilot-projects to develop a promising field, at a point in time where this field was not supported by public funders - (Funding an MEG at the University of Konstanz in 1995).  More than 80 % of the projects funded were international co- operations.  Support of international co-operation: all partners are funded based only on scientific merit. The expost-evaluation of success and failure (‘impact’) of the initiative by an international expert panel has just started. 2. Courage

19 Physics, chemistry, and biology with single molecules (SM) 1996 – 1997 first hint on SM (G. Wegner, MPI Mainz), draft paper on physics & chemistry with SM (C. von Borcyszkowski, TU Chemnitz, et al.), interdisciplinary peer review panel suggests to include biology with SM. Nov. 1997establishment of the funding initiative 1998 – 2003 grants: 15.6 million Euro for 53 research projects (incl. project extensions), four status symposia, and two summer schools, Oct. 2002: 16 project leaders got tenure. Nov. 2002closing of the funding initiative 12 March 1999 … The specific advantages of single-molecule studies will prove crucial in many fields, in applications as well as in fundamental investigations. … [W.E. Moerner and M. Orrit] 2. Courage Examples from The Funding-Portfolio of The Volkswagen Foundation (II)

20 3. Communication Thought-provoking discussions are essential to scientific progress. It is an important task of researchers and funding-institutions to:  foster interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange  strenghten the interaction between international and German researchers by:  configuring adequate research structures  establishing study groups  developing research networks and exchange-programs  foster the cooperation between research centres and universities in Germany  address their role in society. 3. Communication

21 Traditional vs. New Roles for Researchers Traditional roles Transfer of knowledge to selected target groups Provide facts and results One-way flow of communication: transmitter-receiver asymmetries Support scientific literacy of interested audiences Foster public understanding of science New roles Actively shape broader public perception and participation Offer compelling stories and guidance in action Interactive, dialogical communication: achieving symmetric dialogue Build trust and form research-friendly attitudes Create public appreciation and opportunities for public involvement in science and technology 3. Communication

22 4. Innovativeness To foster innovativeness is to appreciate unconventional ways of thinking. Radically new approaches and transformative research endeavours require different modes of communication, selection, and support (successive grants, long term commitments). The challenge remains how to separate the wheat from the chaff without discouraging the most original thinkers and creative researchers. 4. Innovativeness

23 163 And here we simulate the forthcoming assessment of our research proposal! 4. Innovativeness

24 5. Persistency/Perseverance The involvement of funding-institutions should be based on trust and long- term commitment instead of brand making and short-term financing. Trust Quality assurance and evaluation Risk-taking Flexibility 5. Persistency

25 6. Diversity A clear need for more transdisciplinary approaches and new opportunities for young researchers  Need for a realignment between scientific values and society’s needs  Common wisdom: new knowledge is usually formed at the boundaries of established fields. Interfaces must be activated.  Subject-oriented organisation of European universities and corresponding career patterns do not work in favour of problem- oriented research approaches  Marked emphasis of universities on discipline-based specialisation prevents researchers from committing themselves to inter- and trans-disciplinary research. 6. Diversity

26 Discipline-Based versus Problem-Oriented Research DisciplineProblem RigorRelevance StabilityChange ParadigmComplexity University careerCareer in Research Institutions 6. Diversity Graduate schools may offer a way out...

27 An Increase in Diversity and Size May Create a Decrease in Integration and Flexibility and Inhibit Progress in Research Degree of Communication high Degree of Scientific Diversity high Breakthroughs Source: J. Rogers Hollingsworth: The Role of Organizations and Institutions in the Innovation Process, Diversity

28 How to Encourage Transformative Research The aim of private funding of transformative research must be to - overcome disciplinary boundaries and - to put new research topics, fields, structures, and approaches on the research agenda. Transformative research only scarcely originates on its own. The readiness to engage in ground-breaking research has to be encouraged and facilitated. The needs for transformative approaches and for new opportunities for young researchers have to be tackled as two sides of the same coin. Examples: ‘Showcase’ (Wellcome Trust), and ‘Off the Beaten Track’ (VolkswagenStiftung). Committee of the U.S. Science Board on transformative research. 6. Diversity

29 Trust in Public Institutions Versus Institution Building 6. Diversity Private Institution Building by Foundations Continuous Support of Public Institutions with an Emphasis on Structural and Topical Renewal Privately operated institutions with the goal of offering an alternative to the education provided at German state universities.

30 7. Serendipidy - Giving Time and More Creativity needs room for the unexpected. The most important prerequisites for a successfully performing research institution are research-friendly, inspiring environments, as well as efficient governance and decision-making structures. Efficient and effective administrative structures support scientists in research and teaching and unburden them as far as possible from bureaucratic responsibilities. They provide the researchers with as much time and space as possible to interact with their colleagues and to focus on their respective research questions. Nevertheless, inspiring thoughts can not be planned for. 7. Serendipidy

31 Richard Feynman and The Wobbling Plate Legend has it that observing a wobbling plate snapped Feynman out of a period of burnout - the episode is described in "The Dignified Professor", in Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman, pg “It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly. I almost tried to resist it! There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.” 7. Serendipidy

32 Success and Failure in the Labyrinth of Research Cabinet Office: R&D Assessment. A Guide for Customers and Managers of Research and Development. London 1989, Serendipidy

33 Foundations in Europe  European foundations are a very heterogeneous pool of institutions whose defining characteristics often depend on local factors and the regulatory environment.  In comparison to the US, foundations in Europe have played a less prominent role until now.  In recent years the importance of foundations has significantly grown. According to the latest comparative statistics in Italy and Germany, around 50 percent of registered foundations have emerged since 1990, while other countries such as Belgium, Finland, France and Sweden report between 19 and 29 per cent increases in the number of foundations. IV. The Role of Foundations

34 The Role of Foundations in Encouraging Change  Unlike publicly financed agencies which have to provide equal opportunities for all institutions, private foundations - can act much more freely, flexibly, and quickly - can put objectives in front of rules and regulations - do not have to wait for political consensus  They can act autonomously - in supporting the first experiments in new areas, - in taking risks - in being front runners in institutional reform. IV. The Role of Foundations

35  Due to the perpetuity of their funds, foundations have the capacity to be reliable partners, willing to foster risky projects, and to help researchers to break new grounds  They are independent from election periods, but also independent from shareholders’ views  They can strive to give insights, to develop ideas, and to find solutions where politicians, or industry cannot or do not want to embark upon such endeavours  Their independency contributes to the inspiring effect that private funding has on the development of research and higher education, but also to the willingness of citizens and enterprises to spend their money on these purposes. IV. The Role of Foundations

36 Limits and Limitations of Foundations Given the billions of Euros spent by public authorities and enterprises, the impact of comparatively small-scale foundations is limited. Therefore, foundations heavily rely on partnerships. Nevertheless, foundations have the flexibility to quickly respond to the needs of the research community, to pilot projects, and trigger spending on research by bigger funders. By fostering risky projects, encouraging change, and helping the most creative researchers to break new grounds foundations can create at least a few islands of success. IV. The Role of Foundations

37 The Urgent Need for More Research-Friendly Institutional Structures and Processes (I) The most important prerequisites for a successfully performing research institution are inspiring environments as well as research-friendly and efficient governance and decision-making structures. A move towards a more professionally organized and autonomous university is needed. Therefore, research institutions have to:  constantly tap their resources and realize their potential,  ensure efficiency in their spending,  accelerate and simplify their processes,  intensify communication within the organization and beyond. V. More Research-Friendly Institutional Structures

38  Foundations can encourage and support institutions and their leaders to engage in change processes towards achieving research-, and innovation-friendly structures  Two basic concepts are institutional conditions sine qua non for ground breaking research: - an organisational structure which facilitates crossdisciplinary interaction, - strong leadership connected with very high quality standards  Research institutions have reacted to the increasing complexity of knowledge creation and research with an increase in size and diversity. This often creates an increase in bureaucracy and hierarchic structures. The Urgent Need for More Research-Friendly Institutional Structures and Processes (II) V. More Research-Friendly Institutional Structures

39 Institutes for Advanced Study - Islands of Success The goal of an Institute for Advanced Study, of which the first was founded in 1930 in Princeton, is to offer outstanding researchers the opportunity to concentrate on their chosen research projects, and to absorb ideas and inspirations from other disciplines and differing national traditions of science and scholarship. An intellectually heterogeneous atmosphere often produces a productive friction that modifies a Fellow's own approach, and thus leads to lasting innovations. This special form of critical self-examination is possible only in a framework of freedom and intellectual richness resulting from the simultaneous presence of a variety of schools of thought. VI. Institutes for Advanced Study

40 Institutes for Advanced Study - Islands of Success Instead of becoming new ivory towers in an otherwise still suffering research environment, Institutes for Advanced Study can be also be the starting point for social and political engagement of their fellows. The pause for thought provided by Institutes for Advanced Study is often being used by their fellows to rethink and reconfigure their own priorities and ultimately engage in new fields of research. Many universities are currently considering to establish a kind of institute for advanced study, including elements of graduate education. They are designed to serve as breeding grounds for new ideas and thus as incubators for subsequently to be conducted transformative research. VI. Institutes for Advanced Study

41 Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies The selfexplained goal of FIAS is to link up strong scientific capacities in the Frankfurt area with the stimulation of theoretical research in those disciplines which run the risk of falling behind in the attempt to understand the rapidly accumulating experimental data and facts. The Institute has primarily the purpose to serve as a superstructure for basic research, bringing together theorists from the disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology in a common organisational and intellectual framework. VI. Institutes for Advanced Study

42 Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies It is planned to implement:  Up to 12 positions for Senior Fellows and Fellows (some of them tenured) and one Philosopher in Residence (non-tenured) at the level of Full Professors or Associate Professors.  Up to 15 Junior Fellows (at the level of "Junior Professors" recently established in Germany, basically corresponding to Assistant Professors) with non-tenured positions.  About 24 scholarships for graduate students, the latter being recruited from the attached Frankfurt International Graduate School for Science (FIGSS). VI. Institutes for Advanced Study


44 Conclusion: Mutual Risk-Taking Instead of Individual Risk Avoidance.  Allow for more ‚creative spaces‘ within large grants, e.g. collaborative research units, centres, and clusters.  New modes of funding required, e.g. medium-, to long-term fellowships up to ten years (Lichtenberg; Dilthey; Schumpeter; Royal Society; Wellcome Trust).  Time and space for some thorough rethinking of common wisdom needed, e.g. research professorships and extra grants for senior researchers (Institut universitaire de France membership for five years; „opus magnus“ for two years).  Reconfigure the review process, and actively encourage risk-taking by applicants, reviewers, and decision-makers, e.g. based on a two stage process including presentations and interviews. VII. Conclusion

45 Conclusion More competition for prestigious grants and awards will hopefully lead to an enhanced competitiveness of European research. Many challenges can only be met, if we take a long view. We must be prepared to exercise judgement, and to make long term commitments whilst maintaining the flexibility to respond to new challenges. VII. Conclusion

46 “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.” Sir Winston Churchill

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