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Frontier research a chance and a must Jerzy M. Langer Ministry of Science and Information Society Technologies and Inst. Phys., Polish Academy of Sciences.

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Presentation on theme: "Frontier research a chance and a must Jerzy M. Langer Ministry of Science and Information Society Technologies and Inst. Phys., Polish Academy of Sciences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Frontier research a chance and a must Jerzy M. Langer Ministry of Science and Information Society Technologies and Inst. Phys., Polish Academy of Sciences Polish Physical Society, General Assembly, IPSEC V Warsaw, 12 Sept 2005 On the way to the ERC

2 Students in Poland a demographic projection

3 Why talented people go to basic research and stay there? Curiosity & internal must (a sense of a mission) Endless frontier Joy of discovery amplified even after a small success Sense of freedom and uniqueness (membership to a better part of a society) Fame and recognition (less anonymity than on the applied side – everybody knows who invented transistor, but almost nobody can list, names of those who made transistors real purchasable devices)

4 Specificity of basic research BR is generally done by small groups of researchers and very often in a solitude. BR is generally done by small groups of researchers and very often in a solitude. The research environment The research environment -a critical mass -a critical mass -need to exchange and confront views (dedicated meetings and workshops) -need to exchange and confront views (dedicated meetings and workshops) -quality research laboratories -quality research laboratories

5 I need only recall the answer of the great Michael Faraday, when at a public lecture he was demonstrating the production of electricity. - “Of what use is your invention, Mr. Faraday?” demanded an important lady. -“Madam”, he replied, “of what use is a new born child?” Usefulness of „basic science” Aaron Klug, 1982 People often ask what is the use of it. In a world where there are pressing problems, why doesn’t one devote one’s efforts to the practical benefits of mankind?

6 Where researchers work (%) Source – EC Key Figures

7 Financing basic research (2001) Source – EC Key Figures

8 Is there a need for a new initiative at European level? ? YESYES

9 Support of basic research in EU opinion of scientists 45 Nobel laureates – an appeal 45 Nobel laureates – an appeal European Science Foundation European Science Foundation Euroscience Euroscience ALLEA ALLEA Academia Europea Academia Europea EMBO, EMBL EMBO, EMBL EURAB EURAB ERC – Expert Group (a Mayor group) ERC – Expert Group (a Mayor group)

10 ESF position paper

11 The suggested target of 2 Billion Euros a year for the funding level will give the ERC the desired impact. The total national funding of national research agencies in Europe is estimated to be in the order of € 40 bn per year. ERCEG position paper The ERC – a cornerstone in ERA

12 EC Communication on BR

13 Frontier Research: The European Challenge High-Level Expert Group Report February 2005

14 European Challenges Reinforcing excellence, especially in new, fast- growing research areas. Reinforcing excellence, especially in new, fast- growing research areas. Staying ahead in a world of growing scientific and technological competition. Staying ahead in a world of growing scientific and technological competition. Linking science to technological innovation. Linking science to technological innovation. Competing for talent. Competing for talent. Encouraging greater investment. Encouraging greater investment.

15 The European added value Encourage and support the finest talent: Open and direct competition will heighten the aspirations and achievements of European researchers, enabling the best talents and ideas to be reliably recognised from a larger pool, and thus raising the overall level of excellence in frontier research. Speed, agility and focus: ERC will be able to support the best ideas in frontier research, channel resources, and capitalise on the unique diversity of European research talent with a speed, agility and focus not always possible within some national funding systems. Status and visibility for research leaders: The ERC can confer status and visibility on European frontier research and the best researchers and their teams,. Dynamic structural effects on European research system: The ERC can catalyse the adaptation of national research structures to the evolving European Research Area. Economic benefits: The availability of new knowledge and the expanded, higher-quality pool of talented researchers funded by ERC can help to attract and retain more R&D-intensive firms in Europe, and to create a greater impetus for the establishment of research-based spin-offs. Societal benefits: The ERC can provide the opportunity to invest quickly in the knowledge base necessary to cope with the new and emerging issues confronting society. High-Level Expert Group Report, February 2005

16 The ERC – general principles Bring a European context to the support of long-term, fundamental, curiosity-driven research. Bring a European context to the support of long-term, fundamental, curiosity-driven research. Focus on excellence as the basis for its funding decisions Focus on excellence as the basis for its funding decisions Competitive decision process with scientific community involved at all stages, including final decisions. Competitive decision process with scientific community involved at all stages, including final decisions. Significant degree of operational freedom, simplicity of procedures and transparency. Significant degree of operational freedom, simplicity of procedures and transparency. Financially meaningful budget. Financially meaningful budget. Complementarity, and not competition with other major financial sources Complementarity, and not competition with other major financial sources

17 The ERC – for whom and how? Address exclusively the top level of researchers in Europe (groups but also individuals). Address exclusively the top level of researchers in Europe (groups but also individuals). Age and origin must not be used as a criterion Age and origin must not be used as a criterion All granting procedures must be highly competitive. All granting procedures must be highly competitive. It will help create benchmarks. It will help create benchmarks. Support only the best individuals and groups, so that they can become even better.

18 Successful EU actions Marie Curie awards Marie Curie awards FET FET NEST NEST Infrastructure support Infrastructure support EURESCO Conferences EURESCO Conferences Forward looks Forward looks EUROCORES EUROCORES EURYI (EUROHORC initiative) EURYI (EUROHORC initiative) FP 6

19 Strongest Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Astrophysics Medium Biology, Earth Sciences, Medicine, some Engineering Sciences. Lagging most Engineering Sciences, Ecology. Strong nationally Archaeology, Literature studies Sociology, History Why then basic research is great chance in NMS? There we are strongest. There we are strongest. It is fairly inexpensive. It is fairly inexpensive. It is a landmark of Polish „ivy league” of higher education and thus helps to train open minds. It is a landmark of Polish „ivy league” of higher education and thus helps to train open minds. A distance from science-driven research to applied is much smaller if a first step is at the highest level. A distance from science-driven research to applied is much smaller if a first step is at the highest level. There will be a lot of resources in Europe, so we must get prepared to compete, and quickly. There will be a lot of resources in Europe, so we must get prepared to compete, and quickly. But uncompromised quality is absolute must

20 Science performance vs. country economy CITATION INTENSITY GDP PER PERSON IN THOUSANDS US DOLLARS King D.A. (2004) Nature 430,

21 Poland strongly supports the proposed inclusion of basic research in FP7 and the earmarking of separate financial means for that purpose. Recognising a fundamental role of basic research for any progress of science, Poland fully endorses the proposed establishment of the European Research Council. Polish position regarding FP /04 RECH

22 BR in FP7 - beyond the ERC Research programmes – GRANTS NOT CONTRACTS ! Individual researcher support – grants, mobility schemes (no age restriction) Individual researcher support – grants, mobility schemes (no age restriction) Research networking – when justified Research networking – when justified Meeting and workshops Meeting and workshops Research infrastructure – directly or via cohesion or structural funds (in less developed regions) Research infrastructure – directly or via cohesion or structural funds (in less developed regions) Dissemination of science information – link to the public Dissemination of science information – link to the public Research policy, benchmarking, foresight Research policy, benchmarking, foresight

23 ERC – the hope Great expectations Great expectations Great challenge Great challenge However the ERC will not solve all problems However the ERC will not solve all problems But ERC will contribute to the solution of many problems and issues But ERC will contribute to the solution of many problems and issues We must not only advocate for the ERC, but we all have to work for its success. We must not only advocate for the ERC, but we all have to work for its success.

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