The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) based in Budapest, Hungary, has broadly and quickly met its goals but should change its governance model and be more open to external partners and expertise, evaluators say.
In a qualitative report released this month, evaluators note that the EIT successfully set up three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) that bring together partners from business, education and research.
They praise the relevance of the institute’s concept and recognise that much has been achieved in a short period of time, since 2008.
However, the authors and evaluators recommend that the EIT should extend its benefits more broadly, and develop more links with complementary programmes and engage with a broader range of partners.
University rankings ‘focus too much on research performance’
International university rankings are not transparent and focus too much on research performance and elite universities, according to a report released on 17 June by the European Universities Association.
Rankings encourage accountability, but are biased and insufficiently transparent, the authors say…..For instance, humanities are ignored by the bibliometric indicators used in global league tables.
The EUA study reviewed 13 international university rankings, and was funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Germany and the Portuguese Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Recent research conducted by a team in the School of Applied Sciences (ApSci) has highlighted the need for a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to environmental management and policy development. It is a project which is well placed in BU’s movement towards research focused on societal themes and aims to establish how stakeholder values of their local environment can be used to improve the effectiveness of ecosystem management creating stronger links between citizens and policy makers.
This European collaboration is nearing completion. The Transactional Environmental Support System Project (TESS), supported by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission was coordinated by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (www.tess-project.eu) and involved several ApSci staff. The rationale for this project had its foundations in the move towards citizen-driven environmental governance and policy development. The aim of TESS was to provide a platform through which biodiversity information collected at a local level can be incorporated into policy development and land-use management. Could a system of this type encourage local communities to have more involvement in collection of these important data, and a greater role in the maintenance and restoration of their local environment and ecosystem services?
The project involved partnership with 14 other institutions from 10 different European countries. The project identified what information is required by both local land users and policy makers in order to develop effective environmental policy which will benefit both biodiversity and economic development. The results were tested through 11 local case studies which were then used to further develop the TESS portal (due to go online in the next month or so). BU’s involvement with the project has allowed us to develop strong, collaborative relationships with a number of institutions across Europe, linking strongly with the University’s desire to become more active on the European stage.
During the project, the ApSci team, including Prof. Adrian Newton, Dr. Kathy Hodder, Lorretta Perrella, Jennifer Birch, Elena Cantarello, Sarah Douglas, James Robins and Chris Moody, carried out a local case study within Dorset’s Frome Catchment Area. This case study site falls within the Dorset AONB and includes a SSSI, Local Nature Reserves, National Nature Reserves and Special Areas of Conservation. We were able to incorporate local knowledge and opinion into a novel evaluation of the ecosystem services and biodiversity benefits that might be realised through implementation of SW Biodiversity Implementation Plan. Such strategies have the implicit assumption that working on a landscape-scale to develop ‘ecological networks’ should have potential to facilitate adaption to climate change, increase ecological ‘resilience’ and improve the UK’s ability to conform to international policy commitments, such as the Habitat Directive. However, it is accepted that the cost of the ecological restoration required for such initiatives could be substantial and little work has been conducted on cost-benefit analysis of restoration initiatives. The work carried out by BU for the TESS project addressed the knowledge gap surrounding the cost effectiveness of ecological restoration approaches to climate change adaptation.
We currently have a paper in review with the Journal of Applied Ecology based on this work. It shows that spatial Multi Criteria Analysis could be used to identify important ecological restoration zones based on a range of criteria, including those relating to ecosystem services, biodiversity and incorporating the values of a range of stakeholders. This tool could be of direct value to the development of ecological networks in the UK as a climate change adaptation measure. Such tools developed through TESS may enable future plans for ecological restoration to incorporate local stakeholder values, improving the chances of societal benefits and long-term success of the schemes.
The wider results of the TESS project were presented at a conference in May 2011, hosted by the European Parliament Intergroup at the European Parliament in Brussels. BU was represented at the conference by one of our postdoctoral researches, Emma McKinley.
Norway and Poland signed a research cooperation deal worth 290 million kroner (€37m) on 10 June, the Norwegian research council . The money is part of a 2 billion kroner deal between the two countries focusing on green technologies, like carbon sequestration projects.The Norwegian research council has welcomed the collaboration. It is a way for Norway to develop its participation in EU framework programmes, said Jesper Simonsen, divisional director in the research council.
The UK EURAXESS website, which is run by the British Council, has just launched a new feature, allowing researchers to search for new funding opportunities. The types of schemes that are shown include fellowship programmes, study visits and exchange programmes.
Sweden’s academics should be rewarded for communicating their research and for research collaborations, VA, an interest organisation for researchers, suggested in a proposal to government. “Money is an important incentive. That’s why we want collaboration and communication to be taken into consideration when funding is allocated,” says Cissi Askwall, secretary-general of VA.
The number of PhD theses and research articles coming out of Lund University, one of Sweden’s best-known research institutions, has dropped in recent years, despite an increase of public funding for the university. On 13 June, the newspaper Sydsvensken reported that the number of theses from Lund in 2010 was its lowest in 10 years and that the total research output had shrunk by a third compared to 2007.
Over the last 10 years I have had the privilege to work on half a dozen European Commission funded projects with a total income of about £1m. Most of them are relating to technology innovations and advantages with a primary focus to tourism and hospitality organisations and regional regions as well as cultural heritage. Getting European funding is complex and requires a lot of work, networking and innovative thinking. Success rates are low and it is quite demanding. Nevertheless there is a great number of benefits that comes with success. These include:
- Cutting edge knowledge of the most cutting edge research problems
- Research that it is relevant to society and has an impact on a European level
- Networking across different disciplines
- Working with colleagues from around Europe
- Funding for research assistants, equipment and travel
- And yes you can travel around and sample the Belgian and not only beers ….
Perhaps the project I enjoyed most as it made me realise the impact that research can do is a recent project which I did when I was still at the University of Surrey. This was about accessible/disabled tourism and I was called to provide expertise on how to deal with information for people with disability that wanted to travel. The project lasted for 2 years and provided a series of key success factor for facilities to use and also guidelines on how those should be systematised for dissemination over the internet. Getting closely involved with people with disabilities and working out on potential solutions opened a whole world for me a
The immediate results of the projects and the other initiatives that emerged are equally impressive:
Although not always easy, involvement with European funded projects are incredibly rewarding for their intellectual stimulation, the exposure to knowledge and networking as well as access to resources. They are also fantastic for impact to society at an international and global scale. We are about to start a new project on Electronic Marketing, mobile phones, location based services, small business and tourism and look forward to cutting edge research.
Reporting from this years EARMA conference in Portugal, I have just heard a presentation from the DG for Research & Innovation who has revealed that this week the official new name for FP8 was launched -‘ Horizon 2020 – towards a new framework programme for research and innovation’. A bit of a mouthful so at BU we will refer to it as ‘Horizon 2020’!
A research project from the University of Bergen aims to chart Facebook addiction among Norwegian users. The aim of the project is to increase the knowledge of addiction to social media in relation to working life and will feed into clinical treatment programmes for addicts.
The Challenge Social Innovation event in Vienna, September will bring all stakeholders active in the field of social innovation under the same roof. Not only does the event sound essential for those in the field to develop knowledge and ideas but the third day of the conference is an information day and network event for EU funding in Social Sciences and Humanities. If you are thinking of applying for EU funding in this field; this conference provides a key opportunity to network and meet collaborators. Read more on our Events page.
The Green Paper has now been released and proposes major changes to EU research and innovation funding in order to make participation easier, increase scientific and economic impact and provide better value for money. The changes, to be introduced in the next EU budget after 2013, will cover the current Framework Programme for research, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. Read the full summary analysis to get a head start on what future EU funding may look like.
The Academy of Finland has announced that it has launched a review to determine the state and quality of science in the country; the main focus of the review will be to identify areas of strength and formulate recommendations for strategic development in those disciplines. The Academy of Finland has carried out similar exercises every three years since 1997 and this evaluation is due to be completed by December 2012.
Reports with results of the 2010 consultations on the future of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), the Erasmus Mundus and the Youth Programme post-2013 are now available. The GHK Results of the Public Consultation and Overview of the Public Online Consultation findings will feed into the design of the next generation of education and youth programmes which are currently being prepared by the European Commission. It is expected that the European Commission will present a proposal for the new education and youth programmes in the autumn of this year to the European Parliament and Council.
International research funding for the societal impact of natural hazards should be more focused on developing countries and under-funded themes such as droughts, landslides and flash floods, finds a review funded by the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences, the DfID and RCUK. Societal Impacts of Natural Hazards: A review of international research funding argues that if research attention is to “match relative risk” it should be directed towards developing countries most at risk from natural hazards, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. Support for research in developing countries, it says, could come through partnerships between local research institutions and those from elsewhere in the world. The report also recommends the development of “urgency funding” so that research can be carried out quickly after a disaster has struck—in “real time”.
The European Food Safety Authority invites proposals on gathering consumption data on specific consumer groups of energy drinks. The project should collect data on the consumption of energy drinks and specific ingredients, including caffeine and glucuronolactone, in relation to member state consumers aged three to 10 years, 10 to 18 years and 18 to 65 years. The budget for this call is €100,000 over 12 months; see the website for more info.
A reminder that the Smart Cities Initiative launch event, today the 21 June 2011, will be broadcast online. At a later stage, this initiative may evolve into a European Innovation Partnership (EIP). Topics on Smart Cities are expected to be included in the 2012 Work Programme in the FP7 Co-operation Energy Theme, which is expected to be published on 20 July 2011. Those who are interested in applying for future ‘Smart Cities and Communities’ calls for proposals might wish to check the participant list for possible project partners.
Funding is available for a study on the legal and institutional framework adopted in the EU member states on racist or xenophobic hate speech and on hate crime based on a racist or xenophobic motivation, and on the application of such a framework. Funding is worth up to €250,000 over nine months; see the website for more information.