Issue 5 | A world-leading independent review.
Global Science and Technology
Kroes & Calarco
Creating an optimum environment
What quantum technology can do for us
Blue growth & the European Recovery
Management of the sea Urchin Paracentrotus Lividus
A NEW HORIZON
THE BASQUE COUNTRY IS GOING FOR NEUROSCIENCE, MATERIALS AND POLYMERS.
DEPARTAMENTO DE EDUCACIÓN UNIVERSIDADES E INVESTIGACIÓN HEZKUNTZA, UNIBERTSITATE ETA IKERKETA SAILA
Foreword Global Scientia Team
Welcome to the spring edition of Global Scientia!! Its been a long wait but we managed to get there. There is a certain buzz about the Scientific Community at the moment and I have a little feeling that it’s something to do with Horizon 2020. Yes that’s right, it’s finally here - proposals are at the ready and already we are seeing some fantastic movements and possibilities. This year is shaping up to be a tremendous year for all involved thanks to a shift in funding and collaboration. We are however still oceans apart in regards to fully understanding one another but the good news is that people are finally taking notice. Within this edition we gain an insight to the German powerhouse – the DFG and its vision and understanding of what needs to be done. We hear from a handful of the commissioners themselves, who as always do their position of responsibility – great justice. We have another look at the IMC in Italy who are continuing to plug away at sustainable integrated aquaculture as well as improvements of aquaculture techniques. Overall we have once again succeeded in bringing a few key areas of discussion to the forefront and hope that all our readers feel informed but also compelled in the efforts that these key players have made. Whether we like it or not we are truly in a different league in regards to today’s world and its business, communication and general life style. Communication is but a button away on your mobile phone, the art of conversation is truly dying and the Hashtag generation has taken over. I feel that my hours of golf lessons have been a waste of time as business will not be conducted on the course but over a quick
“Skype chat” as for some reason although there are still 24 hours in the day it seems that the days have in fact got shorter and nobody has the time to listen – only speak. With that said I still believe that we can make this transition smooth whilst keeping some integrity and value from the previous generations (the old school of which there is no school like it) intact. Don’t get me wrong, we all benefit from being able to connect through the innovative and marvellous technologies that have been and are being created – it has generated jobs in the masses and opened people minds to what will be our very near future but let’s just make sure that as seekers of the truth that we maintain that very point. “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton. Wishing you all a successful and wonderful start to the year Global Scientia Team
Contents Global Scientia
Kroes & Calarco - “What quantum technology can do for us”
Erasmus+ - “The new European Union programme for education”
Norwich Research - ”A new approach to staying healthy offered by customised nutrition.”
ERA NET NEURON - “Make ends meet: celebrating 10 years of funding organizations co-operation”
DFG - President Peter Strohschneider - “Creating an optimum environment to bring novelty into the world.”
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Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern takes a look at President Barroso
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern discus’s Horizon 2020
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern discus’s Excellent Science
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern takes a look at Industrial Leadership
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern discus’s Societal Challenges
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern looks at Women In Science
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern talks about Breast Cancer Detection
Maria Damanaki - “Blue Growth and the European recovery”
IMC - “The research for a sustainable perspective for the management of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus”
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern discus’s Marine Research
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern discus’s Energy Research
Cockcroft Institute - “Ditanet Collaboration harnesses power of the beam for industry”
Commercial Director A.Alim
Journalist Kyle Northern
Sales Director Ali Hussin
Head of Finance Kevin Shields
Head of International Development Alan Nielsen
International Relations Scott Duff
Head of Design Jamie Whitelaw
Production Bruce Watt
Editor Mark Wilson
Head of Audience Development Martin Johnston
Sub Editor Gillian McNicoll
Global Scientia (global knowledge transfer ltd) does not necessarily agree with or endorse any of the opinions or contents of the articles within this book. All of the articles featured remain the copyright of the authors or relevant organisations. All of the enclosed information has been checked and is correct at the time of going to press. The publisher will not be liable for any loss suffered directly or indirectly as a result of the use of, or reliance on the information contained herein.
For further information please visit: www.globalscientia.com Any queries please e-mail: email@example.com
© Copyright 2014 Global Scientia (part of Global Knowledge Transfer Ltd) All rights reserved. Company No: SC405977, VAT : 121 1845 52
ISSN 2053-258X (Print), 2053-2598 (Online)
Kroes & Calarco
Kroes & Calarco What quantum technology can do for us?
One of todayâ€™s most fascinating fields of research and innovation involves applying quantum phenomena to new technology â€“ especially computing. A recent report by the Washington Post on NSA classified programs in quantum technologies announced that the EU and Switzerland have caught up with the US in quantum computing technology. Indeed this is an area in which the EU has been investing since the mid-1990s, through its Future and Emerging Technologies programme, with more than 250 million euros invested in research to develop and 6
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apply quantum technologies. And that investment is paying off: with European scientific excellence recognised by many, including the Nobel Prize Committee; and a range of revolutionary applications are already starting to emerge. So how does this technology work, and what innovative applications could we soon see on the market? Why quantum chips matter and how they work Chip technologies advance exponentially, with
performance roughly doubling every 18-24 months, according to Moore’s Law. That is why the phone in your pocket offers more computing power than all NASA’s computers combined in the 1960s. Up until now Moore’s law meant smaller and smaller chips: but soon that trend could mean transistors are not much bigger than a few atoms. And that is a scale where quantum effects become important: so quantum chips may be the next step. But quantum computing is about more than just cramming smaller, faster chips onto ever smaller wafers. In fact it’s totally different from “classical” computing. And for some applications, it has a performance that is unbeatable: like for security, sensing accurately, or simulating systems. Quantum computers and quantum simulators Conventional computers perform calculations using fundamental pieces of information called bits, where components can only be completely “on” or completely “off” (i.e. with the values 0 or 1). In contrast, quantum computers use “quantum bits”, or qubits, where components can be simultaneously both “on” and “off”, thanks to the phenomenon of quantum superposition. These devices can be built around single atoms or molecules, using the polarisation state of a single photon or the spin state of a single electron. Put a few qubits together, and you have a “register” that can simultaneously represent many numbers. In a “quantum processor” one single component can in effect conduct several separate computations simultaneously – whereas a classical computer would need distinct processors each working separately on different parts. This ability to “multitask” has a decisive impact on performance, rendering previously prohibitive tasks possible: one example being the factoring of large numbers, very relevant in cryptography.
In principle we know how to build a quantum computer: start with simple quantum logic gates, and connect them up with qubits into quantum circuits. But the more qubits are involved, the harder it gets to manage their interactions, without destroying the information they hold. Fortunately, the technology for controlling quantum systems is advancing rapidly. In fact, we don’t need a “full” quantum computer to start seeing the benefits. Even a less complete device like a “quantum simulator” could process information far faster. The quantum simulator is a system where interactions between qubits can be engineered to efficiently simulate another complex system: not something you can do with classical technology. And there are many other applications, from studying the microscopic properties of materials, to describing chemical compounds and reactions; from testing out fundamental particle physics, to finding high temperature superconductors. More secure communications Recent news has brought the security of electronic communications to everyone’s attention. And quantum cryptography could provide the solution. Imagine Alice wants to communicate securely with Bob. Using classical cryptography, there is always the risk that eavesdropper Eve will crack the key, and listen in; particularly if Eve has a more advanced technology than Alice and Bob, or exploits a “back door”. But if you use quantum cryptographic protocols and quantum key distribution, that could effectively become impossible: as the laws of quantum physics would ensure that any attempt to intercept data would change that data, making the message unintelligible to Eve (and also warning Alice and Bob about the attempted interception). The key transmitted is both Issue 4 |
Kroes & Calarco
perfectly random, and only valid at the time it is sent; making the encrypted message impossible to decrypt or break, even if you spent years trying to analyse the key. Combining quantum and conventional methods offers a radically new approach to network security, with confidentiality protections that are in essence absolute and permanent. To date, quantum cryptography has needed both Alice and Bob to have expensive and extremely sensitive optical components. But over time, commercially-available equipment is becoming able to integrate transparently and simply into existing networks. Those could be suitable for high-demand users like banks or governments; while the general public could use more practical and compact solutions, such as by housing encryption technology in central servers, and accessing it via fiber broadband networks. Quantum technologies supported healthcare Our society is getting older, with more and more people suffering degenerative diseases. Early detection and diagnosis can mean more efficient interventions and better, healthier lives. At the 8
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same time, expanding our knowledge of the inner working of complex organs like the brain can help us better understand how certain diseases originate and evolve. Again, quantum technologies can help, with ever more effective quantum sensors. For example, to understand the human brain and gain any insight into how it processes information, in practice you need to understand and measure how its constituent neural networks operate. Current techniques cannot get down to the level of detail needed, for example down to the level of a tiny single brain cell or neuron. Quantum sensors operating at atomic scale could have sensitivity of milliseconds and microns (one thousandth of a millimetre): enough to provide significant new insights. And ultimately that could result in better data, for example for work being undertaken for the EUâ€™s Human Brain Project. Quantum systems: when time is money The phenomenon of quantum entanglement can be used for even more precise atomic clocks.
What might be the applications? Today, most of us are used to GPS or satellite navigation systems, to find the fastest and easiest route to an unfamiliar destination. But very few users know that underpinning those GPS systems is a very precisely synchronised clock, with location calculated using a satellite signal’s time delay. So the more precise the timing, the more accurate the GPS. There could also be an application with highfrequency trading on financial markets. Such high-frequency transactions can be completed in microseconds. Every node of the network must be absolutely synchronised: every switch, every router, every server, every processor, and so on. A single inaccurate timestamp – even of the order of one ten millionth of a second - could make it appear that trades took place before they actually did. And errors do have very real consequences: in May 2010, around €950bn evaporated from the US equities market, the so-called “flash-crash”. The incident itself was only for a short period, but over time it shattered investor confidence. Regulating this kind of transaction needs an objective and reliable standard. “Frequencyentangled pulses”, provided by quantum
metrology, give a novel way to synchronise clocks. Even in the event of GPS outage, tiny quantum atomic clocks based on “cold matter” can still pass on data reliably, securely and with incredibly precise time stamping. Where will all this lead? All these quantum innovations will most likely have a huge impact on technology and society. As with other great projects - like the NASA space programme - many of those benefits might be indirect, and not predictable at the start of the mission. The fact is, we don’t know exactly what we will find as we further unwrap the quantum mystery. But one thing is clear: when you are exploring the limits of what is possible, you make incredible, disruptive discoveries on the way. The authors would like to thank A. Aspect, F. Jelezko, P. Knight and R. Thew for their invaluable input into this article. Neelie Kroes is Vice President of the European Commission, and responsible for the EU’s Digital Agenda. Tommaso Calarco is Acting Director of the Institute for Quantum Information Processing at University of Ulm, Germany.
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Erasmus+ The new European Union programme for education
Erasmus+, the new European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport, is great news for millions of Europeans. Aimed at boosting skills, employability and supporting the modernisation of education, training and youth systems, the seven-year programme has a budget of €14.7 billion - 40% higher than current levels. This represents a massive expansion of the world’s biggest and best mobility programme and we take pride in that achievement. It is proof of our commitment to Europe’s young people and the challenges they face. More than 4 million people will receive support to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad, including 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational training students and apprentices, 800 000 school teachers, lecturers, trainers, education staff and youth workers, as well as more than 500 000 going on youth exchanges or volunteering abroad. We believe that Erasmus+ can contribute towards the fight against youth unemployment, improving skills people need in today’s world. Erasmus+ covers all areas of formal and non-formal learning for pupils, students, apprentices, young people and adult learners through its components Comenius, Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Leonardo, Grundtvig and Youth in Action. At a time when parts of our Union are turning in on themselves and extremist ideas are gaining 10
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currency, Erasmus+ will bring Europeans together and continue to symbolise some of the European Union’s greatest aspirations and democratic values. The individual benefits gained from opportunities to study or train abroad are well-known. By spending time abroad, young people improve their language skills, adaptability and selfconfidence. They learn how to live and work alongside people with different traditions and backgrounds. The skills gained through this international experience boost their employability and also have an impact on the EU economy as a whole. Erasmus+ has three main targets: first, around 65% of the budget is allocated to learning opportunities abroad for individuals, within the EU and beyond; second, the programme will support partnerships between educational institutions, youth organisations, businesses, training institutions, local and regional authorities, and NGOs; and, third, it will support reforms to modernise education and training and to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and employability. In addition to grant support for studies and training abroad, students planning a full Master’s degree abroad, for which national grants or loans are seldom available, will benefit from a new loan guarantee scheme run by the European Investment Fund.
The new Erasmus+ partnerships, called ‘Knowledge Alliances’ and ‘Sector Skills Alliances’, will help bridge the gap between education and the world of work by enabling higher education institutions, training providers and enterprises to work together and more effectively promote innovation and entrepreneurship. This means, for example, developing new curricula to tackle skills gaps. Smaller-scale strategic partnerships will also seek to encourage cooperation between formal and non-formal learning across all sectors. By strengthening the European Voluntary Service and international youth exchanges, Erasmus+ will also promote active citizenship and the participation of young people in democratic life. Finally, Erasmus+ will, for the first time, include a dedicated budget line for sport. It will allocate around €265 million over seven years to contribute
to developing the European dimension in sport by helping to address cross-border threats such as match fixing and doping. It will also support transnational projects involving organisations in grassroots sport, promoting, for example, good governance, gender equality, social inclusion, dual careers and physical activity for all.. Europe is facing tremendous economic and social challenges. We need a change of mind-set in order to emerge from the current economic crisis. We are convinced that Erasmus+ has a vital role to play in meeting these challenges and giving millions of young Europeans hope for a better future. Androulla Vassiliou is the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. Doris Pack is Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education.
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Norwich Research A new approach to staying healthy offered by customised nutrition.
“I believe we should enjoy food and not feel guilty about it. What is important is to have a varied diet that challenges your body’s responses in a good way, keeping its protective mechanisms active,“ says Professor Michael Müller, newly appointed director of the Food and Health Alliance (FAHA) at the Norwich Research Park.He explains he wants to make the Park a centre for health: “If we understand the various response
mechanisms within our cells that are induced by different food components we can find better ways to stay healthy and improve our resilience to external challenges such as daily stress or infection.” Prof Müller is Professor of Molecular Nutrition and Nutrigenomics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and is leading FAHA, which brings together researchers from across the Norwich Research Park who share a common interest in nutrition, plants, food and health. He believes that a crossdisciplinary approach creates an opportunity to explore new ways to maintain our health. With new researchers and companies working in the food and health area locating to the Park, the call is out to others to join this critical mass. Nutrigenomics offers new healthy foods
Professor Michael Müller, Director of the NRP Food and Health Alliance (FAHA)
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Prof. Müller says that he is not advocating a return to the diets of our ancestors but instead to create a better understanding of how to how to improve modern food patterns and diets to promote health.
The new Centrum opens for business (left and top)
“Each cell contains a full genome and we can now study how it is expressed when the cell is exposed to challenges such as daily stress, immunological challenges and particular types of nutrients or food components. “Just as we can train the muscles to cope with more exercise, so too can we increase metabolic capacity of our organs by exposing the cells to healthier complex and less processed foods. For example, colleagues at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) have found that foods like broccoli are able ‘retune’ metabolic processes that may become imbalanced as we age. (For more information see the box) “Cells that are ‘trained’ can break down nutrients and food components faster and more efficiently. By understanding this mechanism we can advise manufacturers how to create food products that trigger these responses. “Like muscles, if you don’t use the dynamic range of responses in your cells from time to time you can lose it and this process is very relevant for the rate of ageing. It is important to start with good nutrition as young as possible, but it is never too late.” Redefining health Prof Müller explains that work by molecular nutritionists and others is beginning to redefine our understanding of ‘health’ in terms other than ‘not being ill’. “We should be considering health as the ‘ability of our organs to adapt to challenges’. This allows a more dynamic exploration of health. By considering the state of health as a continuum from very well to very ill it opens up the potential to create therapies that work when the first signs
of illness are detected. “We are becoming aware that there is a predisease state where the cell is under chronic stress and becomes overloaded. Early detection would prevent the development of non-reversible pathologies linked to a chronic disease. “At present, we are out of touch with our bodies and ignore the early signs of illness. We say ‘I am just a bit tired’ but don’t do anything about it. Then it becomes too late and we develop a disease that requires a strong pharmacological treatment. This may cause side-effects and the delicate balance of the body is damaged.” The inner tube of life Prof Müller says that the Norwich Research Park is well placed to become a centre for health research and that FAHA will draw on its multidisciplinary expertise. “The gut can be considered ‘the inner tube of life’ sensing what is good for the body to absorb and what is bad and needs to be excreted. Most modern complex diseases have a link to the gut and all foods and orally taken drugs need to pass this gatekeeper. “To be a world centre of excellence you need to have focus. Here on the Park we already have a great many experts in this area. With research at UEA, IFR and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital focused on the gut, microbes, food and health including immunology, but also inflammatory diseases. “There is an entire internal ecosystem in the body and it requires multi-disciplinary teams to elucidate the subtle interactions between plant foods, host cells and microbiota. The gut has an Issue 4 |
Norwich Research already seeing the start of this with wellbeing apps on our phones. In future Google glass might be able to provide an objective record of everything that is eaten and smart refrigerators keep track of food usage and suggest different food options. “Of course some will find this scary but I see it more as an amazing opportunity. Norwich has a unique opportunity to create a niche for research focusing on health and healthy ageing.” The Genome Analysis Centre supports big data analysis
essential role in determining the bioactivity and bio efficacy of functional food components.” Big Data offers new approaches Prof Müller comments that with The Genome Analysis Centre, a research institute focused on the application of state of the art genomics and bioinformatics also located on the Park, FAHA will also have access to the technology and tools needed to deal with ‘big data’. “With modern genomic tools it is possible to take a snapshot of the entire genome and see how it expresses itself in the cell and how it responds to every day challenges such as nutrition. This allows an objective view of cell responses and creates an opportunity to discover new things. “We will be developing a knowledge-base so that it will be possible to predict the outcome of nutritional interventions and functional effects of new foods. Storing the data from each of the research groups in an ‘omics’ database will allow future researchers to use data mining tools to interrogate the data and look at new potential targets.” Maintaining our health space “Everyone has a personal health space and the aim is to understand what this is. As it is when this sensitive system is overloaded and then subjected to environmental challenges, such as chronic stress, that problems start. He hopes the future focus of the NHS will be on more effective prevention to keep us in our ‘health space’ not just to treat disorders. “Big data creates a huge opportunity to make ‘keeping healthy’ as easy as possible. We are 14
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Food and Health Alliance The Food and Health Alliance is a multidisciplinary research initiative based on the Norwich Research Park. The Park has a unique combination of expertise in food and health across a number of research organisations. Facilities include the Clinical Research Trials Unit and MRI facilities. These together with recent innovations are attracting increasing interest from the pharmaceutical industry in using functional foods for disease prevention and therapeutic intervention.
Support for the food industry Food is an important industry and the UK is one of the world’s top 12 food and drink exporters, with £18bn of food, drink and animal feeds exported each year, The industry needs to be continually innovating and with growing concern over obesity, creating foods that are both appealing and healthy is a priority. Reducing the fat in some foods is quite difficult as it provides taste and texture, so to compensate, sugar is often added to foods with a low fat content. Scientists on the Norwich Research Park are studying how the behaviour of fat in foods such as yoghurts and sauces provide their taste and texture. By changing at a molecular level how fat droplets interact, the taste could be retained without the need for sugar and this would be of great interest to manufacturers. To provide affordable access to this type
of contract food research and specialist analysis, there is a service on the Park called IFR Extra. Head of Operations, Dr Kerry I’Anson, comments that recent enquiries have included such things as trouble-shooting and solving production problems for food manufacturers, assessing the prebiotic potential of foods, upgrading municipal (food) waste, early stage microbiological assessment of a novel food, analysis of food products and serum samples to name just a few. It is not just large organisations that benefit from access to this expertise; many earlystage companies are setting up on the Park after being attracted by its reputation. Food Forensics is one of these companies. It is an analysis company that can determine the origin of a food or beverage from its unique ‘fingerprint’. It has grown rapidly and now counts Waitrose within its growing client base. Co-founder Alison Johnson says that having easy access to industry specialists has allowed the company to grow rapidly: “Reputation is everything in the food industry and although I had a strong track record, the company was new. Being located on the Park with its experts at IFR and UEA and companies such as Anglia DNA and ABC Food Law, immediately gave us credibility with our client base.”
Eating broccoli rejuvenates metabolism Researchers at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) have obtained the first evidence from human studies of how diets rich in glucosinolates, such as glucoraphanin found in broccoli, can ‘retune’ cellular processes that get disrupted as we age. This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, provides the first evidence from human intervention trials of the mechanism behind this protective effect and will be followed up by another study with a larger number of volunteers.
'Super foods' delay ageing
Inside each of our cells are specialised structures called mitochondria, which act as the engines of the cell. Excessive fat or sugar in the diet can overload the mitochondrial machinery. Disturbed metabolism and badly functioning mitochondria are associated with the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. Retuning these processes to normal may contribute to the reduced risk of cancer seen in people who eat diets rich in broccoli and similar vegetables. To study what effects glucoraphanin consumption has on metabolism, researchers at IFR carried out human dietary intervention trials. They found that people who ate the high glucoraphanin broccoli had improved metabolism, and most of them had reduced levels of fatty acids in the blood and other lipid compounds that are associated with inflammation. They concluded that this was because of a bioactive compound called sulforaphane that is derived from glucoraphanin. A high glucoraphanin broccoli variety, called Beneforté, developed through traditional breeding techniques by IFR and the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park, is available in UK supermarkets. This ‘super broccoli’ represents a special achievement for UK bioscience: a consumer-focused, nutritionally enhanced product.
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Norwich Research New tools to maintain food security
Norwich Research Park
AgriTech in the UK has recently received a boost with the announcement of a new Cambridge to Norwich initiative.
Norwich Research Park is one of Europe’s leading centres for research in food, health and the environment. It is based just outside the historic city of Norwich, a couple of hours drive from London.
The need for the AgriTech Cluster was explained by the Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman who is a former life science advisor to the government and a biotechnology entrepreneur. “By 2050 the world needs to double global food production using roughly half as much water, energy and land. This is a huge challenge which is driving huge new markets for agricultural innovation - from SatNav guided tractors to disease resistant seeds.” He said, “East Anglia was the original home of the Agricultural Revolution, and with our world class research at Norwich Research Park and Cambridge and world class food and farming sector, we can lead the world again. Integrating Norwich and Cambridge will help us unlock this opportunity to create the jobs and businesses of tomorrow.” The cluster is aimed at linking the worldclass research capability within the two cities with the world class growing land and food and farming sectors in the adjacent rural areas.
The Norwich Research Park is a thriving science and innovation business park. It is currently home around 30 science and IT based businesses, attracted by the state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities for collaborative research with other companies and the world class institutions located on the Park. In addition to the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, there are four independent world-renowned research institutes namely the John Innes Centre, Institute of Food Research and The Genome Analysis Centre (all strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)) and The Sainsbury Laboratory linked to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The Park also includes a bioincubator and innovation centre to support small and growing businesses, and this Spring the Centrum Building, which has been specially designed to support collaboration with flexible meeting and event space coupled with further office and laboratory accommodation, will open for its first occupants. For larger companies requiring a bespoke build, the Park has a 52 hectare (128 acre) zone for commercial expansion and development with master planned plots suitable for a variety of business types
Dr Jane Heavens, Projects & Communications Manager, Norwich Research Park Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7GJ T: 01603 274442 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.norwichresearchpark.com
Rt Hon George Freeman MP
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ERA-NET NEURON ERA-NET NEURON
ERA-NET NEURON Neurodevelopment, boost for neworganizations interplays. co-operation Make ends meet: celebrating 10 years of funding
In September 2013 the ERA-NET NEURON celebrated its 10th anniversary with a scientific symposium in Warsaw, Poland. In ERA-NETs - projects that are funded by the European Commission in various fields - new types of co-operation between ministries and funding agencies are established. By co-operation and co-ordination on a national or regional level between funding bodies, a European Research
NEURON was launched in Luxembourg on October 9th, 2003, with a small meeting of the founders from Luxembourg, Israel, Poland and Germany. Ten years, six Joint Transnational Calls (JTCs), and 224 funded research groups later NEURON has proved itself to be an invaluable tool for making the ends of science and research funding meet. The development of this network can be described best by its prosperity: while four funding organizations started in 2003, already four years later 18 funding organizations from 13 countries joined forces. Since 2012 the number of funding organizations increased to 21 from 16 countries rising to a global dimension by participation of Canada since 2009. 18
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Area (ERA) was created. Cross border research is funded, allowing research groups to jointly work on specific questions, exchange ideas, and benefit from interdisciplinary expertise. Twenty-one funding organizations from 16 EU Member States, Israel, and Canada participate in NEURON, an ERA-NET for disease-related neuroscience.
The development comprised several steps among which the spirit of common and mutual trust was not least. To this end, the 32 wellattended ERA-NET NEURON meetings since 2007 contributed a great deal to NEURONâ€™s success. The number of 100 regular NEURON participants in these meetings also reveals that many of those permanently represented their funding organization - in other words NEURON has a very high degree of staff consistency. The impact and success of the ERA-NET NEURON can certainly be accounted to this personal engage- and involvement. Why do these usually in national research funding commissioned organizations? It is because of the key instrument of the ERA-NET NEURON, the
Figure legend: Researchers and ERA-NET NEURON members at the 10th anniversary symposium in Warsaw, Poland, September 2013. From left to right: Alexander Klein (ERA-NET NEURON), Bernhard Sabel, Juán Antonio Barcia-Albacar, Andreas Fischer, Tracy Farr, Ferdinand Christoph Binkofski, Barbara Lukomska, Tim Magnus, Marlies Dorlöchter (coordinator of the ERA-NET NEURON at the PT-DLR in Germany on behalf of the German Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF), Martin Dichgans, Jens Dreier, Miroslaw Janowski, Denis Vivien
Joint Transnational Calls for proposals (JTCs). Under the umbrella of the ERA-NET NEURON the last six JTCs addressed hot and cutting-edge scientific topics from mental disorders to method development and disorders of blood-supply of the brain (cerebrovascular). And the more funding organizations from different countries participate in a call the bandwidth of researchers that can apply in these JTCs increases. For instance non-NEURON partners Turkey participated in the JTC 2011, and Slovakia and Latvia in the JTC 2013 underlining the attractiveness of this funding measure. What was set out in 2003 as a new manifestation of a cooperation spirit among funding bodies in the fields of disease-related neuroscience has been put forward as an almost fixed point in the European funding measure map. Fifty-four international research consortia were or currently are funded, comprising 224 different research groups. How are the JTC topics selected? Key elements of the ERA-NET NEURON are the foresight activities and scientific workshops with renowned researchers from the scientific community to integrate existing knowledge with new developments and future. Eleven publications on such foresight activities have already been released (http://www.neuron-eranet.eu/en/353. php) covering broad areas from new technologies in neurosciences to neurodevelopment and related disorders. Newsletters made the outcome of these activities available to the broad public. Based on these workshops future scientific research areas of high impact were and currently are being identified as possible call topics among the funding organizations. Particularly the wellattended workshops make ends of science and funding policies meet to the greater benefit of research.
Early-career scientist support is another main key component of the ERA-NET NEURON. The Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award (EPNA) is an annual early-career scientist award for the best paper in neuroscience. The call is launched every May, and the awardee(s) is/are invited to present their work during a special lecture at a conference in the following year. In 2012, the award ceremony was organized as a specific session during the 8th FORUM of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) in Barcelona, Spain, attracting over 200 attendees. For the early-career scientists this offers thus a great opportunity to address a large audience besides the honor of the actual award. Not surprisingly, the EPNA calls became a prestigious award. To celebrate the ERA-NET NEURON success and mark the 10th anniversary of the network, the scientific symposium of the JTC 2011 ‘Cerebrovascular Disorders’ was used as a platform to celebrate the success story of the ERA-NET NEURON in Warsaw in September 2013. Cerebrovascular disease comprises brain dysfunctions related to diseases of the blood vessels supplying the brain (e.g. often resulting in a severe stroke as one of the most common cerebrovascular dysfunctions). Eleven scientific talks were held by the coordinators of the individual consortia to provide overviews about their ongoing research. Cutting-edge science was presented, often with close applicability to the clinics, thus increasing the hope to significantly improve therapy in such pathologies in the near future. Models and mechanisms Developing an appropriate model reflecting the pathological symptoms of cognitive impairment in Issue 4 |
ERA-NET NEURON humans is the topic of Tracy Farr from the Charité Hospital in Berlin, Germany, and her international consortium. They address the validity of current models including the quest for clinical biomarkers by using modern magnetic resonance imaging technique. Such is a highly promising candidate for testing novel therapies meaningfully under laboratory conditions, as Farr pointed out. Martin Dichgans from the Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversity Munich, Germany, and his consortium investigate brain damage and cognitive impairment that are caused by small vessel disease. Understanding the mechanisms behind the disease is important for precise diagnosis and rational therapy planning. In a well-designed approach from bench to bedside, the consortium succeeded in identifying some of the disease mechanisms in pre-clinical studies. In a next step they will extend investigation to clinical. A different approach to understand the underlying mechanisms of small vessel disease pathology reported Jens Dreier from the Charité Hospital in Berlin, Germany. His international consortium examines the impaired electrical signaling in diseased brains. Brain function relies on a strictly regulated high- speed communication between neurons. This signal exchange is disturbed in diseases. The team identified a specific state of neurons from which cells either recover or die; the latter leading to neurodegenerative processes. “Such results will provide insights that may translate into future therapy by recruiting neurons back onto the recovery path” anticipated Dreier. Andreas Fischer from the German Cancer Center in Heidelberg, Germany and his colleagues focus on a certain type of blood vessel malformations in the brain and spinal cord. By collecting data from patients suffering from this type of malformation, and also investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms the researchers aim to identify future drug targets that could eventually lead into clinical trials. Novel therapeutic approaches Impaired vision, a common symptom stroke, reduces dramatically the quality of life of patients, reported Bernhard Sabel from the Otto-vonGuericke University of Magdeburg, Germany. In a pioneering approach his international consortium developed a method that improves vision by means of electrical stimulation of the neuronal pathways that are damaged or dysfunctional. “We plan to transfer the promising results to further clinical testing to improve the recovery of patients
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after stroke” explained Sabel. “Cell death and the lack of significant self-repair in the adult brain are one of the major obstacles in stroke therapy” reported Juán-Antonio Barcia-Albacar from the Fundación para la investigación biomédica del Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain. The team’s collaborative effort aims to overcome this insufficient selfrepair by implanting biocompatible material into the damaged brain area and stimulating the remaining neurons. Stem cells in stroke therapy play the main role in Barbara Lukomska’s (Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Warsaw, Poland) project. The researchers’ goal is to direct injected stem cells to damaged brain areas where they should serve as sources of growth factors and other molecules to support the recovery of brain tissue. “By genetic engineering of the stem cells and by discovering the best route of application of the cells we want to prove that this approach has high potentials for a future clinical trial” says Lukomska. “Acute stroke causes an inflammatory response; blocking this response could have an immensely beneficial effect on the recovery of patients”, said Tim Magnus from University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. His consortium wants to use so-called nanobodies, small antibody-derived proteins, to shut down the inflammation after stroke. Promising results have been collected so far, and among them new biomolecular targets have already been identified enabling a potential alternative route in acute stroke therapy. Denis Vivien from INSERM, France, reported that one of the main issues in stroke therapy is that patients usually receive treatment too late. Therefore, extending the time window during which patients can be treated is one of the main goals of his collaborative research. “We focus on the influence of proteases, a certain group of proteins that are involved in the course of acute stroke because they play a crucial role in future therapeutic approaches”, as he pointed out. Chronic motor disability is one of the symptoms in stroke that reduces significantly the quality of life of stroke patients. The optimization of existing protocols for an improved treatment of motor disabilities is one of the goals of Ferdinand Binkofski’s consortium (University Hospital Aachen, RWTH Aachen University, Germany). They found out that sleep can help to improve impaired motor skill learning. “Now we try to
understand the underlying mechanisms and then to include the findings into the standard stroke therapy” explained Binkofski. Perspectives Joint Transnational Call 2014 launched The ERA-NET NEURON published its latest Joint Transnational Call for proposals for ‘European Research Projects on Neuroinflammation’ on January 10th, 2014 (http://www.neuron-eranet. eu/). The deadline for proposal submission was on March 10th, 2014. The aim of the call is to facilitate multi-national, collaborative research projects that will address important questions relating to neuroinflammation. The call will accept proposals ranging from understanding basic mechanisms of disease through proof-of-concept clinical studies in humans. These may include research on the role of inflammation in neurological or psychiatric disorders, or associated with traumatic brain injury, pathogen infection or toxicity in the nervous system. Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award (EPNA) ceremony at the FENS Forum 2014 in Milan On Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, Nadia Kaouane from Vienna, Austria will present her award winning paper in an ERA-NET NEURON special lecture during the 9th FENS Forum of Neuroscience in Milan, Italy. The paper was published in March 2012 in the renowned scientific journal SCIENCE and addresses a
disease called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder is known to occur after extreme stressful events like war, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, or car accidents. Affected patients often suffer from excessive fear reactions. Although PTSD receives increased attention, effective treatments are missing, which might be due to the lack of models of the disease. The paper reports on a newly established laboratory model that can open new avenues for the development of innovative and successful treatments for PTSD. The work suggests that one of the crucial strategies to eliminate PTSDrelated memory abnormalities will be to reduce the overproduction of a certain stress hormone in people traumatized by a highly stressful event. Research into mental disorders From the funding program of 2013 “European Research Projects on Mental Disorders” twelve project proposals were selected on the basis of their scientific excellence. In total, 48 research groups from eleven European countries, Canada and Israel collaborate in these projects. The consortia address different neuro-psychiatric disorders. They range from autism spectrum disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders, over depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, to addiction. State-of-the-art methodology such as magnetic resonance imaging is employed to answer important research questions and to find ways to translate Issue 4 |
the results into clinical application, for the benefit of the patients and their families and friends. Julia Stingl (Germany) and her research consortium focus on specific genetic variants of proteins in the brain that are involved in metabolizing central nervous system-active substances such as antidepressants, antiepileptics, cannabinoids, and tryptamine derivatives. The investigations may have direct practical consequences for the treatment of affective disorders. In another genetic approach Hannes Lohi (Finland) and his team address the question of how genetic variants lead to childhood psychiatric disorders and thrive to identify new avenues for early identification and treatment of these devastating conditions. The identification of a new autism genetic pathway in the brain is the focus of Froylan Calderon de Anda (Germany) and his research team. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopmental disorders in which individuals have disrupted social communication and repetitive stereotyped behaviors, which lead to life-long difficulties. A number of mental disorders involve intellectual disability (ID) that is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior. Researchers around Vera Kalscheuer (Germany) investigate genetically caused ID. By focusing on the loss of function mutations of a specific protein involved in chemical signal transduction they thrive to identify novel targets that can be used for the development of drug therapies. Vulnerability to addiction is addressed by the team around Salah El Mestikawy (Canada). To communicate with each other brain cells use a combination of electrical and chemical signals. Dysfunction of communication in a specific brain region underlies the development of drug dependence. Sequential stages of the addiction process are investigated by Veronique Deroche-Gamonet (France) and her international researchers by exploiting new brain imaging methods. The studies will help to identify neurobiological dynamics into addictive behavior and potential treatment targets. In a pharmacological approach Kristina Leuner (Germany) and her team focus on the synthesis and detailed pharmacological and behavioral characterization of new derivatives of the antidepressant hyperforin. Claudia Buss (Germany) together with her international colleagues investigates the biological mechanisms of trans-generational transmission of early life stress (ELS). Research suggests the negative consequences of ELS exposure may not be restricted to the exposed individual alone but also may be transmitted to 22
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her children. Christine Winter’s (Germany) team investigates the Tourette syndrome to better understand the neurobiological disruptions and to develop a system directly targeting the origins of the symptoms in specific brain regions by advancing an established technology with proven benefits in Parkinson’s disease. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder featuring obsessions (intrusive ideas) and compulsions (repetitive overt behaviors) associated with high levels of anxiety. Luc Mallet (France) coordinates a consortium that investigates specific cognitive processes that, when dysfunctional, could lead to compulsive behavior and assesses the mechanisms of deep brain stimulation that may revert the symptoms. Iiris Hovatta’s (Finland) research team uses modern genomic and proteomic methods to reveal novel molecular pathways and biomarkers of anxiety disorders. This approach will hopefully lead to an establishment of biomarkers for better diagnostics of anxiety disorders and molecular targets for development of better treatments. The role of inflammation and related processes in the development, phenomenology and treatment of depression is addressed by the researchers around Martin Schaefer (Germany). Interactions between the immune system and the brain might be important for the pathophysiology of mood changes or mood disorders and may offer a new field of interest to develop alternative treatment strategies. Given the cutting-edge science of highly qualified and outstanding scientists in Europe, Israel, and Canada, the ERA-NET NEURON can look back on ten very successful years. The spirit of collaboration and multinational consortia has been very often leading into long-lasting cooperative approaches eventually benefiting the patients who suffer from devastating brain diseases. Not only could NEURON facilitate new alliances, but also harmonize neuroscience research between neuroscience funding organizations and provide a platform and support for early-career scientists to follow their academic path. All NEURON partners want to keep this spirit and apply for a third funding period within the framework of the EU Horizon2020 funding scheme. By Hella Lichtenberg, Alexander Klein and Marlies Dorlöchter
Global Science and Technology
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DFG - President Peter Strohschneider
DFG - President Peter Strohschneider Creating an optimum environment to bring novelty into the world.
The DFG-President giving his New Year's Adress at Berlin Credit: DFG/Jeske Creating an optimum environment to bring novelty into the world For those involved and interested in science and research in Germany, the year 2014 is set to be a year of intense debate about the future of the German academic research system. This discussion is not entirely new, nor did it begin in 2013, even though this was the year in which it increasingly gained momentum in research as well as in politics, and in the run-up to the federal election. Likewise, the key topics and questions in this debate are not entirely new to the agenda. To mention but a few of them: What is the future of the three major pacts – the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments to promote top-level research at universities, the Pact for Research and Innovation, and the Higher Education Pact – which have brought an additional 18 billion euros into the German research system since 2009, creating many new opportunities for outstanding research? 24
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How can the financial resources, especially core funding, of universities – the centrepiece of our research system – be significantly improved, considering that they have decreased steadily over the past few years, while funding for nonuniversity research has continually increased, creating a precarious imbalance in the entire system of research funding? How can the ever-growing importance of thirdparty funding be reduced, given that it has long created a veritable fundraising pressure – not only on researchers and universities, but also on the funding organisations themselves, particularly the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), being the largest funding organisation for basic research in all fields of science, mainly on universities? In other words: How can the all-important balance between core and third-party funding be restored and safeguarded? And how can we ensure the other balances in the system, which are no less important: the balance between university and non-university research, and between research
DFG Head Quarter at former German capital Bonn Credit: DFG/Lichtenscheidt
organisations and research funding organisations? And, all in all, how can we create an optimum environment in which science and research can unfold as freely and innovatively as possible – and thus bring novelty into the world? Research, research funding organisations and policymakers alike have addressed and formulated their positions on these topics during the past months. As we begin the year 2014, we are entering a new phase of discussion. We are at the beginning of a new legislative period of the German Bundestag. The coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD is in place, and so is Chancellor Merkel’s new cabinet. Like its predecessors, the current federal government has given a weighty position to education, science and research within the overall structure of competing policy domains. This is good and right and important. Our individual and our collective being in society, economy and culture depends enormously on the performance and quality of the science and research system. The new government’s political attention to this field of action also opens up the space in which it and the states can dialogue with academic and scientific institutions to negotiate and enhance the policy guidelines and the details of organisation and financing that shape German science and research in its many international involvements. To point this out: We shouldn’t take for granted that such political and social significance is attached to science and research. We only need to take a comparative look at the research budgets of other countries in the European Union. We might also recall ancient knowledge of
how society usually deals with science, regardless of changing partisan preferences. The uproarious laughter of the Thracian handmaid of whom Plato tells in Theaetetus (174a) has become emblematic of this. She laughed at the astronomer Thales of Miletus, who had fallen into a well because, engrossed as he was in stargazing, he had lost sight of the ground before his feet. The criterion for science here is merely the degree of its direct usefulness for practical living – and, true enough, it doesn’t always look so good from this aspect. And as in Miletus and the world of the ancient Greeks, so today in ubiquitous Springfield and the world of Homer Simpson and his family (in the eponymous animated series). At the Springfield Heights Institute of Technology, Professor Frink develops projects which to imitate would be as ill-advised as – the handmaid would say – Thales’s astronomy. And this is just one strand in the rather complex and quite witty science discourse on The Simpsons. In one of the all-time best episodes (6/14: Bart’s Comet), Homer’s son Bart Simpson sabotages a weather balloon, which is supposed to excite students’ interest in research as part of a science week. As punishment, Bart must assist his teacher, Principal Skinner, in amateur astronomy at dawn. His task is to write down the coordinates of regions in the sky that appear to be empty when observed through Skinner’s telescope. It’s a case of blue skies research. It follows the dynamics of curiosity, and even finding nothing is a result worth recording. However, when Bart Simpson himself takes a look through the telescope, he discovers a giant comet – which, as the state observatory soon confirms, is hurtling straight toward Springfield. Looking at this example, on the one hand, there are problems that wouldn’t even exist without scientific curiosity, and on the other hand, even research that initially follows mere curiosity can Issue 4 |
DFG - President Peter Strohschneider
The DFG Executive Bord: General Secretary Dorothee Dzwonnek and President Peter Strohschneider Credit: DFG/Ausserhofer
suddenly produce knowledge that is clearly of utmost importance. Knowing now that Springfield is about to be destroyed by a comet, and therefore being confronted with their date of death, the people of Springfield wonder with panicked urgency how to prepare for it. The Simpsons episode now segues into a bitter satire on the public disaster-discourse. Unsurprisingly, the disaster ultimately fails to occur; after all, this is not the final episode of The Simpsons. As people resign to their demise, the comet burns up in the polluted atmosphere over Springfield; only a small chunk of it causes damage by shattering, of all places, the city’s sole shelter. However, this is by no means the end of the discourse on the tension between society and science. So the observatory’s disaster forecast was wrong. Bartender Moe, owner of Moe’s Tavern and exemplar of the average person’s knowledge, therefore draws the conclusion: “Let’s go burn down the observatory so this’ll never happen again!”
coalition agreement of Chancellor Merkel’s third cabinet differs clearly from this attitude. It sees science and research as an especially important force in society, prioritises it, and addresses in particular the development and promotion of universities and research organisations. This approach is based on a broad consensus on research policy that transcends partisan differences over details. It indicates that Germany’s unique social stability and economic strength are not least related to the fact that we have a very strong research system which is organisationally differentiated according to the different scientific functions.
In other words, get rid of science and its institutions. But why? Is the destruction of the observatory, in a fit of magical thinking, meant to prevent future hits by comets? Or are astronomers, out of atavistic vengeance, supposed to be blamed for the comet hazard? Or is society’s expectation that science be useful taken to its absurd extreme here? After all, the astronomical knowledge turned out to be useless – the comet burned up in time – not to say harmful, because in hindsight, the Springfielders worried for nothing. Common sense doesn’t have its head in the stars but rather buries it in the sand: “Let’s go burn down the observatory so this’ll never happen again!”
This stable consensus on research policy in Germany includes the understanding that highperforming research – especially when it comes to meeting the special challenges of a highly modern knowledge society – also requires freedom: areas of autonomy for scientific enquiry and questioning, of curiosity and passion for knowledge. Comets are discovered not by examining comets, but by looking at the cosmos. In other words, society is – quite rightly – interested in the answers that science can give. But from the perspective of science, the reverse is equally true. As neurobiologist Stuart Firestein of Columbia University recently put it, for science itself, “Questions are more relevant than answers. Questions are bigger than answers.” That’s why the German research system also provides suitable institutional and financial support for curiosity-driven enquiry, complementing the programme-oriented approach. This is where basic research at universities and non-university institutions comes in – along with much of what the DFG does with its focus on funding and nurturing excellent curiosity-driven research.
The political understanding that underlies the
The general political prioritisation of science and
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research and a broad consensus on the basic principles of research policy provide a solid framework within which our science system can be developed from good to better. And the coalition agreement of the new federal government sets out the right steps to make this happen. Different from the Thracian handmaid and bartender Moe, it takes research and its institutions seriously. This can be seen in, among other indicators, the announcement that the three major pacts of cooperative research funding by the federal government and the states will be continued. Incidentally, the federal government alone will finance the budget increase under the Pact for Research and Innovation. At least as important for research and academia as a whole is the government’s intention to provide universities with more money for core funding under the federal budget. Even if its
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG – German Research Foundation) is Germany’s largest public research-funding organisation and is the central self-governing body of science and research in Germany. Under its Statutes, the DFG is responsible for “promoting all branches of science and humanities”. Equipped with an annual budget of around 2,8 billion euros, the DFG and its numerous programmes fund and coordinate more than 30,000 research projects run by individual scientists as well as research groups at universities and non-university research institutions. This work focuses centrally on basic research in all areas of science and humanities. All academics, scientists and researchers working at universities and research institutions in Germany may submit funding proposals to the DFG. These proposals as assessed by reviewers based on the criteria of scientific quality and are presented to the Review Boards that Germany’s scientists and researchers have elected for a fouryear term of office. The DFG attaches particular attention to promoting young scientists and researchers, to equal opportunity in science, as well as to cultivating and extending scientific relations with countries abroad. In addition, the DFG finances and initiates measures to expand the scientific library system and the computer centres, as well
financial and legal framework has yet to be defined, this policy commitment addresses what is – it must be said – the biggest problem of Germany’s universities: a structural lack of adequate basic funding for education and research. The DFG has repeatedly drawn attention to this problem, which also affects the DFG itself – in the form of an ever-growing flood of proposals and a drastic change in the role of external funding. The DFG is involuntarily becoming a basic financer of university-based research; its thirdparty funding is increasingly becoming a type of secondary currency in the research system. As a result, we are having to make decisions on increasing numbers of increasingly expensive funding proposals and despite a continually growing budget, we are only able to approve proportionally fewer proposals
as to fund major instrumentation in research. The DFG performs a further key role in advising parliaments and public authorities on questions of science and research. Together with the German Council of Science and Humanities, the DFG since 2006 had run the Excellence-Initiative, set up by the German Federal and State Governments to promote top-level research at universities. In organisational terms, the DFG is an association under private law. Its present 95 members include, above all, universities, major nonuniversity research organisations such as the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz Association and the Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association Centres, as well as the Academies of Sciences and other relevant federations and associations. Based at former German-capital Bonn, with its Head office and a about 750-members-of staff, coordinating and administrating the various funding activities and programmes, the DFG has also international bureaus in Washington, New York, Moscow, Tokyo, New Delhi, Sao Paolo, and, together with its Chinese partner-organisation, in Beijing. The DFG receives its financial resources largely from Federal Government (approx.. 65 %) and the Federal States (approx. 33 %), and from the Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Science and Humanities (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft). For further detailed information, see www.dfg.de Issue 4 |
DFG - President Peter Strohschneider
Subtitle to the photo: Well-known as an impressive speaker: Peter Strohschneider Credit: DFG/Ausserhofer
The increase in proposal numbers is particularly evident in the individual grants programme, which, having received more than a third of the approved funding, represents the foundation of the DFG’s research funding. Here, the number of proposals which have been decided since 2009 has risen from just over 10,000 to more than 12,200 in 2012. The amount of funding requested has also increased significantly: in 2008 new funding requests totalled 2.3 billion euros; in 2012 this figure rose to 3 billion euros. The funding rate on the other hand has fallen: in 2009, 47% of all new proposals were approved, in 2012 this figure was just over 32%. We increasingly find ourselves in a situation where we are unable to finance scientifically outstanding projects. Only if federal participation in providing basic funding for universities becomes a legal and financial reality as soon as possible can we establish a better balance between core and third-party funding for academic research. This problem, by the way, affects universities and universities of applied sciences alike. Appropriations for research at universities of applied sciences must be significantly increased. Competitively raised funding can supplement core support in this area, but it cannot replace it. While researchers at universities of applied sciences have always been eligible for DFG funding, the organisation plans to adjust its consultation, review and decision processes 28
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to serve their needs even better. And it will do so in keeping with its mission, that is: based on proposals, neutral toward the applicants’ institutional affiliation, and guided by scientific quality assessments. The latter would seem to be a given, and yet there is cause to reemphasise it. Research can be differentiated not just quantitatively, or functionally, or based on how directly or indirectly it meets society’s criteria of relevance; it can also be differentiated qualitatively. There is first-rate research – at both universities and universities of applied sciences – and promoting it is the mission of the DFG. However, there is necessarily also second- and third-rate research. It must be funded through other channels. And in a way, one might say that all the DFG does is to differentiate between first-rate research and less excellent research, argumentatively and financially. This defines its very role within the organisational structure of science and academia in Germany. Incidentally, this mission to differentiate, to select the best people and projects, also places the highest demands on the quality of the decision processes within the DFG itself. This is on our mind every day in our work in Bonn. Our job is to ensure this quality in an environment where reviewing capacity is increasingly becoming a scarce resource. And yet, by and large, the DFG succeeds in this endeavour to such an extent that it may be appropriate even for its president to say: The programmes and procedures of the DFG
Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider Peter Strohschneider is a professor for Medieval German Language and has been president of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) since January 2013. He was elected for a period of three years to the top office of Germany’s central research funding organisation in July 2012. The DFG’s 58-year-old president is a well-known and respected figure within research, academic self-governance and policy circles. Born on 3 October 1955 in Stuttgart, Strohschneider studied history and German studies (as well as law, sociology and political science) at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU), where he subsequently gained his doctorate and completed his habilitation thesis. After taking a position and a Chair at Dresden University of Technology, Strohschneider was appointed to
are considered standard-setting on a worldwide basis. The Global Research Council Summit demonstrated this in a rather impressive way half a year ago in this very room. And not because increasing the DFG budget is an end in itself, but precisely because of the soundness of its science-driven decision making, based entirely on outstanding research quality, I believe I can say: The DFG’s funding portfolio provides the framework for the further development of the first and second lines of the Excellence Initiative. And I say this even though and because it entails considerable challenges for the DFG itself. The framework will hardly remain unaffected by the integration and further development of large-scale clusters of excellence. The DFG funding portfolio will therefore need to be reviewed and possibly adjusted. Of course, critical self-observation is a standard task of any good organisation. But when it comes to the DFG’s funding schemes and formats, it will be a special focus of our work in this new year. Do we have all the instruments we need to optimally promote the productivity and performance of toplevel research? And are these instruments carefully aligned with each other? Do growing competitive pressure and the changing role of third-party funding necessitate adjustments (seeing as the rejection of grants, rather than their approval, has long become the norm)? How can we make room for responding to the needs of researchers as well as politicians and society at large? Are we open
the Chair for German medieval studies at LMU in 2002. His research interest is focussed on the history and theory of pre-modern textuality, the courtly song, narrative forms of the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, and medieval cultural studies. In 2005, Strohschneider was appointed a member of the German Council of Science and Humanities, the most important scientific advisory board of the German federal and state governments, where he served for six years, being the Council’s chairman from 2006 to 2011. Strohschneider was a former guest professor of the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, and has been a member of the renowned Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2010. As a member of numerous selection committees, advisory boards, and board of trustees he also has made significant contributions to academic selfgovernance and science organisations.
enough to accommodate the diversity of research formats and knowledge interests? And what about original or higher-risk research? I hope that a year from now, possible answers to such questions will have emerged. As stetd at the very beginning: It’s going to be a year of intense discussions, for the DFG as well as for research and research policy in Germany overall. On the principles, which I mentioned earlier, there is widespread agreement. To concretise them into legal, organisational and financial arrangements remains our shared task. And the DFG will actively participate in it – as the selfgoverning organisation of research in Germany, whose mission it is to promote excellent curiositydriven research in all branches of science and the humanities. After all, the social value of science crucially depends on such research. It would be cheap and wrong to laugh with the Thracian handmaid at the alleged otherworldliness of astronomers. Let’s not burn down the observatories (nor the libraries, laboratories, auditoriums and classrooms) – instead, let us support and expand them. Because Bart Simpson’s teacher, Principal Skinner, is right: “There’s nothing more exciting than science!”. This article is the extend version of the Author’s New Year’s Speech, held at Berlin, 13. January.
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European Commission President Barroso and his priorities
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern
President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso has specific goals and objectives in mind when it comes to the strategy of Europe 2020 over the coming years. Priorities will focus on delivering growth, with particular attention 30
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on investing in education, research and innovation, sustainability and job creation all addressing the need for growth in the EU. There are five key areas with great emphasis for President Barroso’s plan and they are employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and energy.
Education is key to a growing economy With education shaping the future of Europe, it’s no surprise that President Barroso is focusing so much on it throughout his presidency. Plans will be set out in order to encourage people
to learn, study and update their skillset, making way for new career opportunities. With a target of 75% of men and women aged 20-64 to be in employment by 2020, education is being used in order to achieve this target, and grow the economy. Prior to this, a focus on reducing those dropping out of school to below 10% and having at least 40% of 30 to 34 year olds with third level education will help to reach the 75% employment target. Currently around 25% of school children in Europe have poor reading skills, meaning the need to address this issue is vital for the Europe 2020 strategy, and beyond, in order to match young people to careers suitable for their skills, and develop their skills further by enhancing education and training. Many young people in Europe leave education without any qualifications, and those who achieve medium level qualifications fail to match the needs of the labour market, making it almost impossible for employers to offer jobs to these people. Not even a third of Europeans aged 25 to 34 have a university degree, and compare this to 40% in the US
and more than 50% in Japan, itâ€™s clear to see that the issue has to be addressed with education playing an important role in creating growth in Europe. There may not be a direct correlation between the fact that universities in Europe rank poorly in global terms and the number of people achieving a university degree, but there is a need to look at the problem, and address them in the best way to allow the most talented to get a university education to enter the job market. In 2010, Youth on the Move was launched which is an initiative aimed at education and employment for young people. It aims to improve the education and employability of young people, reducing youth unemployment and to help towards the wider EU target of achieving 75% of people in work by 2020. A competitive economy is driven by sustainable growth Another main priority for President Barroso is the need to build a more competitive economy that uses sustainable resources in order to ensure it is efficient for the population.
This will be done by making the shift towards a more low-carbon economy by reducing CO2 emissions, actively promoting energy security and reducing the intensity of particular resources that are used and consumed throughout the EU. A 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is being earmarked for Europe 2020, but the EU is set to take things further by reducing emissions by 30% if other countries get involved and agree to tackle the problem. A final energy consumption of 20% for the share of renewables is being targeted in order to contribute to a sustainable growth initiative for the EU, with a target of an increase in energy efficiency to 20% also being set for Europe 2020. These targets will go some way to ensuring sustainable growth for the EU, and by reaching the aims of President Barroso and Europe 2020 as a whole. Seven flagship initiatives to underpin the priorities of President Barroso and the European Commission Under the section of smart growth, Issue 4 |
European Commission President Barroso and his priorities
there are three flagship initiatives. The first of these initiatives is ‘Digital agenda for Europe’. This initiative is aimed at restarting Europe’s economy by getting the public and businesses on board and invested in digital technologies. This initiative will be brought to life by investing in ICT, the improvement of eSkills in the job market and by restructuring conditions for the Internet economy. The next flagship initiative under the smart growth banner is ‘Innovation Union’. There are three simple aims for this initiative, which are to make Europe a world-class science performer, remove current obstacles for innovation and completely change the way that public and private sectors cooperate and work together. The third and final initiative under smart growth is the ‘Youth on the Move’ programme, which was launched in 2010. Its aim is to help young people achieve by providing support for them to train, study or 32
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develop a career abroad. Sustainable growth will be helped along by two key initiatives. The first is to develop ‘Resource efficient Europe’. What this means is there will be a shift towards a low-carbon economy, by increasing resource efficiency to secure growth and jobs for Europe. Actions in areas like climate change, energy, the transport industry and agriculture will help to develop this initiative and ensure sustainable growth actually happens in Europe. The second initiative of sustainable growth is ‘An industrial policy for the globalisation era’. What this means is that the idea of combining the whole infrastructure and chain is what needs to be addressed, because competitiveness will breed sustainability, therefore by bringing together the likes of competition, trade, and innovation policies, the aim is to ensure this can go some way to providing Europe with sustainable growth. Under the inclusive growth banner,
there are two initiatives that are the focus of the European Commission and President Barroso. The first is ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs’ which is all about helping the EU achieve its employment target by 2020. This is to have 75% of people who are of working age in work. The second initiative for the inclusive growth banner is the ‘European platform against poverty’. Its aim is to help countries in the EU reach a headline target by helping 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. President Barroso has aims in mind when it comes to Europe 2020, and his targets, beliefs and priorities are set out. His priorities are all about ensuring Europe is a better, more competitive, growing economy by the time 2020 rolls around, compared to what it is today. By targeting employment, education and poverty, Barroso is hoping that this will not only encourage and strengthen growth, but will make the EU appeal to a worldwide audience.
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern
2020 Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 launched in the UK last month and it’s the largest EU Research and Innovation programme with around €80 billion of funding available between now and 2020. It’s hoped that the programme will also attract money from private investment to give breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts, taking ideas that were once only in the science lab into the mass market. One of its further aims is to contribute to economic growth and create jobs, and politicians from Europe are behind it as well as Members of the European Parliament. This contribution will come in the form of science, closing the gap between public and private sectors in order to ensure both can work together to deliver excellence in innovation. Horizon 2020 consists of three core pillars The programme focuses on three main themes for its success. They are Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. The Excellent Science programme is aimed at increasing the level of
excellence of Science in Europe, leading to first-class research ensuring competitiveness in Europe. This particular pillar is also aimed at supporting ideas, developing talent and providing researchers with access to an infrastructure that wasn’t in place previously. The second theme is Industrial Leadership, with the hope of making Europe more appealing for those looking to invest in research and innovation. Support is available for Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technologies and Nanotechnology, to name a few. The Industrial Leadership programme also includes access to risk finance, with the aim of increasing private investment and venture capital in research and innovation, strengthening the inclusion of smaller companies across the EU. The third pillar comes in the form of Societal Challenges. With Horizon 2020 aiming at giving a true representation of the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy together with addressing concerns shared by European citizens and further afield.
This approach will combine resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines to include social sciences and humanities. Its focus will be on innovation-related activities including piloting, demonstration and test-beds. For this particular theme, funding will be focused on the following challenges: Health, demographic change and wellbeing Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy Secure, clean and efficient energy Smart, green and integrated transport Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens The Horizon 2020 programme has already started to roll out into other countries
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With the UK launch of Horizon 2020 in January, there were also other countries already involved in the programme. The list of the countries already involved is: Austria Belgium Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Israel Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland
So what does the launch of Horizon 2020 mean for the UK? The UK as a whole fares well when it comes to securing funds allocated to this type of research. In fact, Britain only comes second to Germany in terms of being allocated funds of this nature. As with anything, there’s an element of competitiveness when it comes to the allocation of funds for Horizon 2020, and if the UK performs as well as it has done previously, it’s expected that an estimated £2 billion could be available for UK universities, research centres and businesses in the first two years of the programme.
The list of countries already participating in the programme goes some way to show how successful it will become, and with Bulgaria, 34
Croatia, Israel, Italy, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro all launching the programme in the coming months, the roll out will be complete in order to bridge the gap between science, innovation and the worldwide mass market, thus creating opportunities for scientific breakthroughs, employment and economic growth.
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The EU Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn believes that the UK will benefit significantly from the programme, saying “The competition will be fierce but I also believe that the excellence of the projects and the proposals coming
from the UK means it will do very well out of Horizon 2020.” The 28 EU member states approved the implementation of Horizon 2020 last year, with the first grant applications calls last December. As a result of this, a fifth of all grants have gone to British science, totalling a sum of £1.4 billion of investment to date. Training available for the Scientists of tomorrow as part of Horizon 2020 As with previous European Union programmes, there are opportunities for young scientists and researchers. As part of Horizon 2020, this takes the form of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA) programme. As part of this initiative, there’s just over €6 billion available for the likes of training opportunities, and career development. Horizon 2020 will also support new training and doctoral programmes as part of the Innovative Training Networks, which is part of the 2014 to 2015 work programme that has been announced. This gives the opportunity for universities, research centres and companies to work together by developing training programmes in research, helping to
increase mobility across countries, disciplines and employment sectors. The Horizon 2020 programme is also offering support for the many scientists in less well-off countries. This support takes the form of a Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation program, with the aim of helping those countries that are underperforming by helping the structure of the sector, giving opportunities for scientists to network and collaborate with other European institutions, and most of all by offering the chance for said countries to become more competitive to secure funding from Horizon 2020. There’s also scope for young scientists currently working in one of the less well-off countries to take part in the Twinning programme. This, partners an underperforming institution with leading institutions in other EU countries to help strengthen particular fields of research by sharing knowledge and the exchange of staff, together with training and workshops for young scientists. It’s hoped that the Twinning programme will make way for a broader schedule that will develop centres of excellence in partnership with leading foreign institutions known as the Teaming programme. What do the numbers look like when it comes to funding programmes for young researchers? Funding will largely get distributed between the three core themes of the Horizon 2020 programme. As part of the Excellent Science pillar, there’s almost €25 billion available in order to support training and to keep those researchers who have proved successful within their specific disciplines, so to ensure the availability of world-class facilities. In terms of the amount of funding
available in all aspects of the Excellent Science theme, this is broken down in the following way: €13.1 billion will be used for the European Research Council to continue its scope to offer independent research grants The MSCA will be given €6.2 billion to help towards training and career development opportunities For collaborative research projects and emerging technologies in the future, there’s €2.7 billion available The development of research infrastructures will be helped by a €2.5 billion cash injection For the Industrial Leadership pillar, there’s €17 billion being put up for the development of industrial technologies and the support of innovation for both small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The breakdown of this overall figure can is as follows: €13.6 billion to be used to stimulate leadership in industrial technologies such as nanotechnologies and manufacturing The access to venture capital and other private funding sources will be aided by €2.8 billion Innovation in SMEs will be championed by €616 million worth of funding The third main theme of Horizon 2020 is Societal Challenges, and almost €30 billion is available to support research and innovation projects from further afield, through collaborations that aim to tackle specific problems. The total figure available for this pillar is broken down in the following way: Research in health and wellbeing will be given €7.5 billion Research in food security, sustainable agriculture and water research will get a total of €3.8 billion €5.9 billion is available for energy research
Transport research gets €6.3 billion Climate and environment research will get funding up to the amount of €3.1 billion Research on innovative societies will see €1.3 billion worth of funds €1.7 billion will go to research on secure societies The promotion of interactions between science and society will see funds of €462 million available €816 million is available for the development of excellence and widening participation among researchers As well as these figures, there’s an additional €2.7 billion worth of funding that has been designated for the newly integrated Europe Institute of Innovation and Technology. This brings together universities, research centres and companies, giving them the opportunity to offer entrepreneurship training and doctoral programmes aimed at innovating within a number of disciplines. An added €1.6 billion is being given to The European Atomic Energy Community. Knowledge is power and Horizon 2020 boasts open access to scientific data Another important aspect of the Horizon 2020 programme is that any scientific publications must be open access if produced with funds from the programme. This means that articles will be available immediately by the publisher and researchers must make their articles available through an open access system no later than six months after publication. The open access of data enables experts and researchers to share their findings, whilst also ensuring the general public are kept up to date with breakthroughs, allowing the breadth of knowledge to become widespread. The possibilities are endless with Horizon 2020, with breakthroughs Issue 4 |
in health already underway For instance, researchers in Europe have been able to use nanotechnology to develop portable devices that are so sensitive they can diagnose cancer at a much earlier stage, with the added benefit of monitoring treatment and being able to show where it’s needed. Using nanotechnology means scientists from different backgrounds are collaborating to achieve shared goals. In Europe alone, there are 3.2 million cancer cases reported every year with 1.7 million deaths related to the disease. These devices aim to detect common cancer cells earlier whilst providing treatment in a timely manner to improve the chances of recovery. As well as life threatening diseases like cancer and HIV, researchers and scientists are also working on new drugs for health risks like obesity. With the statistics that 50% of Europeans are overweight and 20% are classes as obese, now’s the time for experts in specific fields to do something about the growing problem that’s linked to diabetes and heart disease.
standards. Results from these trials show how fat tissues build up in the blood vessels, affecting the body’s ability to metabolise blood sugars, inflaming the tissues, which increases the risk of things like strokes and heart attacks. This collaborative study has found that a specific molecule within the fat tissue can be interrupted by a new drug, which will not only halt the development of obesity, it will go some way to alleviating the inflammation of the tissue. The next six years will ensure that leading scientists and researchers are developing, collaborating and working towards common goals Horizon 2020 provides the rare opportunity for top scientists across the globe to work and share knowledge, both in their specific fields and with others outside of their disciplines. This greatly benefits all aspects of the Horizon 2020 programme, as it means experts from a plethora of backgrounds are working towards treatments, technology, resources and systems for the greater good.
A study called TOBI brought together research partners from across the globe, including 3 SMEs and 7 universities to better understand the impact that obesity has on a person’s health.
With the amount of funding available to SMEs around Europe and beyond, there’s no shortage of cash injection when it comes to development of their science, in particular research. This surely means that not only should SMEs grab the opportunity with both hands, but individuals too.
Human tissue was provided for the study and all involved were able to use this tissue in their own experiments using a set of agreed
Young scientists are set to benefit from the programme, with funding available specifically for their development and learning as a
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scientist in their particular discipline, providing more opportunity than there has been ever before. With the chance to collaborate, and partner with leading institutions, learners can really get stuck in when it comes to research, whilst also being able to go some way to developing something that will benefit people on a larger scale. Horizon 2020 is set to take the world by storm, with researchers, scientists, experts and professionals doing their bit in order to develop and innovate within their specific fields. It also opens doors for employment opportunities, and on a larger scale will help with economic growth by open up opportunities that weren’t there before funding became available for SMEs in particular. Taking ideas from the lab into the mass market is something that will benefit the public, the economy, businesses, politicians, scientists and researchers, giving all the opportunity to take part in, and share knowledge on a global scale, with particular reference to the open access policy of Horizon 2020. With calls for funding already underway, and studies already being completed, it’s just a matter of time until the world will benefit from greater transparency on life threatening conditions, as well as innovative treatment for these conditions, combatting those diseases that tear families and lives apart as a result.
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern
With the roll out of Horizon 2020 well underway, and calls for entries reaching far and wide, just what does the programme consist of? There are three core themes to the programme, the first one being Excellent Science. This theme looks at reinforcing and spreading excellence within the EU’s science base, and as a result creating a more competitive system to attract scientists from across the globe. Excellent Science The Excellent Science theme consists of four main objectives. The first objective is to provide funding that enables talented individual researchers, along with their teams to reach out into the realms of frontier science, with competition from across Europe being actively promoted by building on the success of the European Research Council (ERC). The principles of the ERC One researcher, host institution, project and selection criterion No networks and no co-financing Applications are welcome from any field of research, to include social sciences and humanities
Researchers from anywhere in the world, any age and at any career stage can apply Conditions for researchers must be provided by host institutions in order to focus research and manage funding If a researcher wishes to offer the grant to another host institution, in essence making the grant portable, this is allowed The research must be implemented in one of the 28 EU member states or associated countries of Horizon 2020 Types of grants funded by the ERC ERC Starting Grant – This is aimed at young and early-career researchers who have been active in their discipline between two and seven years after completing their PhD. There’s up to €2 million available for a period of five years. ERC Consolidator Grant – This is aimed at independent researchers who are classed as excellent in their field, who have been researching for between seven twelve years after completing their PhD. There’s up to €2.75 million available for a period of five years. ERC Advanced Grant – This is aimed at senior research leaders who have accomplished significant research-led achievements in the
last ten years. There’s up to €3.5 million available for a period of five years. ERC Proof of Concepts Grant – This is aimed at ERC grant holders who wish to check the market and the potential for innovation of research results from existing ERC projects. There’s up to €150, 000 available for a period of twelve months. ERC Synergy Grants – This is aimed at small groups of individual researchers. There’s up to €15 million for a period of six years. The second main objective of the Excellent Science theme is Future and Emerging Technologies (FET). This objective funds collaborative research in order to open up new fields of research and innovation. FET lines of action There are three lines of action looking at different methodologies under this objective, with a budget of €2.696 million. - FET Open – This is aimed at supporting early stage joint science and technology research, based on ideas for new future technologies. It will be implemented by exploring wide-ranging technological possibilities using cutting-edge science and new research and Issue 4 |
innovation practices. 40% of the overall FET budged will be used on this first line of action. - FET Proactive – This is aimed at nurturing emerging themes, and to structure communities by looking at a number of research themes. The current work programme supports emerging themes in: Global Systems Science (GSS) by integrating data on social, economic, financial, technological and ecological systems currently available and to extend the responses from society across policy areas and authorities. Knowing, doing and being: cognition beyond problem solving – this will establish new foundations for robotics of the future and other cognitive systems, aimed at progression beyond current capabilities. Quantum simulation – this will contribute to problem solving of applied science using new tools based on quantum physics Towards exascale high-performance computing – this will deliver a wide ranging spectrum of extreme scale systems, and develop a sustainable European Ecosystem for highperformance computing FET Flagships – This is aimed at 38
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supporting large scale, long term, science driven, goal orientated and ambitious research initiatives. These flagships require long term commitment of key stakeholders sharing a common vision and joint collaboration of EU and national programmes to provide financial support. Two FET flagships that have already been chosen are Graphene and Human Brain Project. The third main objective under the Excellent Science theme is the Marie Slodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), which will award €6.162 million from now until 2020. This particular objective is broken down into five parts. Support for Innovative Training Networks (ITN) – ITNs will be used to support competitively selected joint research training and doctoral programmes which will be developed by European partnerships of universities, research institutions and other non-academic organisations. These programmes will provide experience outside of academic settings, to develop and enhance innovation and make people employable. Non-academic organisations are given an equal footing with universities, and non-European organisations are
allowed to participate as additional parties, giving the opportunity for candidates to gain experience outside of Europe during their learning. Individual Fellowships (IF) – These fellowships will support mobility for researchers both within, and beyond Europe. They will also help attract foreign researchers to the EU. The grant consists of two years’ salary, mobility allowance, research costs and overheads for the institution hosting the candidates. Researchers who are working as individuals submit their proposals with guidance and by liaising with the organisation they are planning to work with. Research and Innovation Staff Exchanges (RISE) – RISE are being offered to support short-term mobility of research and innovation staff at any career level. Universities, research institutions and nonacademic businesses can take part, both within the EU and beyond. Co-funding of programmes that finance fellowships involving mobility – This part of the MSCA offers extra funding to regional, national and international programmes for training and career development. These programmes
are being used to encourage researchers to move across borders. The European Researchers’ Night (NIGHT) – This is a public event, which is being done across Europe. Its aim is to encourage an interest in research careers, with particular attention on young people. Experiments, science shows, debates, competitions and demonstrations will all be used to get the general public interested. The final objective of the Excellent Science theme is Research Infrastructures, which will ensure Europe boasts world-class facilities to researchers from Europe and around the world.
This objective will be achieved by developing the European research infrastructures for 2020 and beyond that. The implementation of research infrastructures, to include regional partner facilities, access to national research infrastructures and the development of e-infrastructures will strengthen Europe’s research.
international cooperation coming out of Europe by supporting partnerships between policymakers and funding bodies, as well as activities for international cooperation. this umbrella, and to that end will combine industry and business with the research community by looking for private sector investment.
Another aim is to nurture the innovation potential of research infrastructures and their human capital by encouraging infrastructures to take on technology at a much earlier stage. It’s hoped that this will also support training and staff exchanges.
For larger scale pilot schemes, there will be dedicated support offered, along with demonstrator projects to keep up with the growing commercialisation and industry involvement.
The final aim of this objective is to reinforce the infrastructure policy and
The aim of the Industrial Leadership theme is to make Europe a much more attractive location for investors, with emphasis on research and Issue 4 |
innovation. This will be done by allowing businesses to set the agenda and by actively promoting practices whereby businesses are able to do just that. Major investment in industrial technologies will also play an important role in this theme, which in turn will maximise the growth potential for European companies. Adequate levels of finance will be available to help SMEs get involved in research and innovation, thus turning them into world-class companies, in various disciplines. One of the major aspects of the Industrial Leadership theme is the potential found in ICT. Various markets use ICT for the very nature of innovation and to create a competitive industry, something
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that will continue to grow with the continuation of electronics, networking and the intelligence of computer systems at present. With ICT playing a major role on this specific theme, there are six main activities that Horizon 2020 will focus on. Components and systems will see a complete overhaul, with a whole new generation being identified and subsequently marketed. Advanced Computing will be of interest, and will ensure that the very best computer systems are developed for a range of industries, markets and companies Future Internet research which will experiment and innovate new opportunities for collaboration among researchers, SMEs and bring
together different regions Content technologies and information management Robotics Micro and nano-electronic technologies, as well as photonics With so much help available for SMEs under this theme of Horizon 2020, thereâ€™s no reason why those who believe they can develop, innovate and produce world-leading products should shy away from applying for funding. Itâ€™s not just funding that Horizon 2020 offers, itâ€™s the support, development, research, innovation and collaboration that individuals, SMEs, businesses and those working in the science industries can take advantage of.
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern
The Industrial Leadership theme of Horizon 2020 is aimed at developing technologies and innovations that will establish future businesses and help European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) become world leaders in their field. Industrial Leadership focuses on three main areas for its development. The Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies is specifically aimed at new and breakthrough technologies.
This area will look, and contribute towards boosting competitiveness, job creation and to support growth. Areas of research and innovation of particular interest for this key objective are those companies within the industrial sphere where new technological advances will help enable innovation. There’s particular emphasis that will be placed for Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies in certain areas.
Europe’s industrial capacities will be strengthened by research and innovation, as well as creating new business perspectives Partnerships between public and private companies The intersecting of Key Enabling Technologies Seizing and taking advantage of opportunities within ICT The contribution to solving Societal Challenges and to Focus Areas International cooperation and responsible research and innovation
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The emphasis placed on these particular areas will be strengthened by the involvement of industrial participants and SMEs. Access to risk finance is the next area that Industrial Leadership is specifically focused on. Under this objective, companies will be aided by a host of financial instruments, access to loans, guarantees and counter guarantees. The priority for the next two years is aimed at building on previous activities that have supported research and innovation in the past for the EU. Over the next two years, participation in Horizon 2020 will be aided by the launch of a pilot facility to support the technology transfer process, and a further focus on improving access to risk finance. Different types of organisations and different sized companies will be offered advice on how to make themselves more appealing to potential investors and banks. Studies will also be carried out with specific attention on crowd-funding investments into research and innovation. A specific focus of this area is to attract private investments into 42
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research and innovation, from both firms located in the EU, and those further afield. Financial institutions in Europe will play an important role for this objective, to carry out each financial instrument facility on behalf of the European Commission. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) will work towards ensuring those involved will have access to risk finance in a timely manner. The EIF will carry out calls for interest, by reaching out to banks and risk-capital funds, to enable them to give loans and investments to SMEs. The EIB will provide investment, but also share some of the work of the EIF. The final objective for the Industrial Leadership theme is Innovation in SMEs. The Horizon 2020 programme supports SMEs by giving them access to financial support, as well as indirect support to increase their innovation capability. This particular objective bridges the gap between research, development and innovation and SME growth by creating an ecosystem of innovation. In essence, what this aims to do is take an idea and put it on the market. By supporting the
innovation of ideas in SMEs, Horizon 2020 aims to make these ideas profitable by giving them access to the market, and this is done through investment and funding. Another aspect of the Industrial Leadership theme is space research, to develop a cost-effective and innovative space industry, to include SMEs as part of this plan. This will be used to exploit infrastructure to meet future Union police and the needs of the society. Horizon 2020 will make way for European space research to establish space technologies that innovate and take concepts through to a demonstration phase, into space itself. Data collected from space will also be used for the purpose of science, the general public and commercial interests. Both the Member States and European Space Agency (ESA) will work together on research activities. As part of The Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies aspect of the Industrial Leadership theme, thereâ€™s also scope for the development of technologies underpinning innovation across a range of different sectors.
able to do just that. This part of the programme covers nanotechnologies, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and processing, and biotechnology. For this aspect, the programme will focus on the whole innovation chain, crucially how readily available technology is. Research and innovation agendas will determine the activities under this umbrella, and to that end will combine industry and business with the research community by looking for private sector investment. For larger scale pilot schemes, there will be dedicated support offered, along with demonstrator projects to keep up with the growing commercialisation and industry involvement. The aim of the Industrial Leadership theme is to make Europe a much more attractive location for investors, with emphasis on research and innovation. This will be done by allowing businesses to set the agenda and by actively promoting practices whereby businesses are
Major investment in industrial technologies will also play an important role in this theme, which in turn will maximise the growth potential for European companies. Adequate levels of finance will be available to help SMEs get involved in research and innovation, thus turning them into world-class companies, in various disciplines. One of the major aspects of the Industrial Leadership theme is the potential found in ICT. Various markets use ICT for the very nature of innovation and to create a competitive industry, something that will continue to grow with the continuation of electronics, networking and the intelligence of computer systems at present. With ICT playing a major role on this specific theme, there are six main activities that Horizon 2020 will focus on. Components and systems will see a complete overhaul, with a whole new generation being identified and
subsequently marketed. Advanced Computing will be of interest, and will ensure that the very best computer systems are developed for a range of industries, markets and companies Future Internet research which will experiment and innovate new opportunities for collaboration among researchers, SMEs and bring together different regions Content technologies and information management Robotics Micro and nano-electronic technologies, as well as photonics With so much help available for SMEs under this theme of Horizon 2020, thereâ€™s no reason why those who believe they can develop, innovate and produce world-leading products should shy away from applying for funding. Itâ€™s not just funding that Horizon 2020 offers, itâ€™s the support, development, research, innovation and collaboration that individuals, SMEs, businesses and those working in the science industries can take advantage of.
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Global Scientiaâ€™s Kyle Northern
The Societal Challenges theme of Horizon 2020 is all about combining resources, knowledge and expertise from different fields by carrying out activities that will take something from the research stage into the mass market, with particular attention to innovation using ventures such as pilot schemes, demonstrations and experiments. Societal Challenges will have funding available in areas like health, demographic change and wellbeing, secure, clean and
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efficient energy, smart, green and integrated transport and many other challenge based initiatives.
contribution of this challenge will also be to support the sustainability of health infrastructures.
Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing
The EU is set to invest around â‚Ź7 billion towards this challenge. This funding will be used in order to personalise health care by helping to improve peoples understanding of the causes for diseases and health problems, as well as to improve peoples awareness to monitor and detect signs of disease.
Horizon 2020 will be used as an investment for this challenge in particular, in order to provide a better health for all. With the aims of getting elderly people active, along with independent living, new, innovative interventions will be created as part of this. A key
Member States will also take part
in this societal challenge through research and innovation in areas like neuroscience, cancer and systems medicine. Other activities to be included in this challenge are the Innovative Medicines Initiative, which will support research projects based on collaboration by building networks of industrial and academic experts. The Active and Assisted Living Programme is aimed at supporting market led research as well as SMEs, working with the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing to guarantee the distribution of the best applications.
the theme of Societal Challenges, research and policy amendments will help to secure viable food production, sustain the management of natural resources and contribute to the development of rural areas within the EU. Safe food and healthy diets will also be a main focus of this theme, ensuring there is sufficient access to safe and nutritious food. In order to address the challenge of meeting consumer’s needs, there will be a minimal impact on the health and environment, through research and innovation to underline this issue. Maritime and Inland Water Research
Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Agriculture and forestry have in important role to play in the society for the EU, by supplying reliable and healthy food, among other non-food products for a number of different industries. Not only this, but agriculture plays an important part in shaping landscapes and providing jobs in the countryside, going some way to strengthening the economy within the EU. As part of Horizon 2020, under
Over 70% of the earth’s surface is made up of oceans and seas, and aquatic life provides a vast contribution to food and energy products. The aim is to maximise the benefit from Europe’s inland waters by exploiting aquatic living in a sustainable way. Fisheries and aquaculture will be a focus for this particular objective, by optimising their contribution to food security in the form of innovation and research in order to reach the full potential of Europe’s coasts, providing jobs and growth in the long term.
Bioeconomy One of the biggest challenges in the EU at present is the change from fossil-based industries to low carbon ones. Typical industrial processes will be replaced by the development of bio-based products, minimising the dependency on fossil fuels. Research and innovation in this area will contribute towards food security, climate protection and sustainability across the EU, with significant funding available for this. Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy As part of this challenge, the aim is to support the transition to a sustainable and competitive energy system. Growing energy needs and climate change is a huge challenge to this end, and there is a structured programme to address this. With a budget of almost €6 billion, funds have been allocated to support non-nuclear research for the duration of Horizon 2020. Upwards of €200 million will be used to support European Institute of Innovation and Technology activities. Short term and long term EU policies will address energy efficiency, with the aim of decreasing Issue 4 |
primary energy consumption by 2020 and into 2030. The integration of ICT for SMEs, and a focus on buildings, industry, and heating and cooling systems will be used to address the needs of making energy more efficient. The development of cost-effective technology solutions to provide low carbon alternatives will be used in order to create a sustainable and secure energy supply. Research areas covered in this area will include Photovoltaics, Ocean Energy, Renewable Heating and Cooling, and Wind Energy, among others. Another area of importance for this part of Societal Challenges is to develop sustainable urban areas, by innovating efficient and user-friendly technologies and services. Secure societies â€“ Protecting freedom and security of citizens in Europe 46
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The protection of citizens is an important aspect of this theme, research and innovation will be carried out in order to ensure both society and its infrastructures are protected in the best possible way. The fight against terrorism requires new technologies, and the development of infrastructures and services with the capability to combat crime and terrorism is a high priority. Digital Security will be addressed by focusing on increasing the security of current services and infrastructures, by integrating innovative security solutions for the likes of law enforcement agencies. SMEs, research institutions, public authorities and public and private companies within the security industry will collaborate to ensure that the highest level of security is provided across the board.
The policy goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, including the Security Industrial Policy, the Internal Security Strategy and the Cyber Security Strategy will be of particular importance for this aspect of the Societal Challenge theme. With an overall budget of almost â‚Ź30 billion, the Societal Challenge theme of Horizon 2020 is set to bring together critical resources and knowledge in order to work out solutions and address challenges, specific to certain aspect for society. Innovation will play a huge role in this theme, ensuring that activities take research led ideas into the mass market by drawing upon the expertise of professionals across a range of industries, and to develop and succeed in tackling the challenges faced in many areas of the EU society.
Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern
WOMEN IN SCIENCE
As with many industries, gender equality is still a massive talking point in science. With evidence suggesting that there aren’t as many women as their male counterparts, it would seem that the science industry hasn’t yet fulfilled equality, at least within the EU. In some countries, 30% of women hold full academic positions, but in others, the rate is much lower. This is why there have been many initiatives aimed at getting women into science, especially after they’ve
finished studying, keeping them in the industry and pursuing a career in their specific discipline.
networking opportunities for females to pursue a career within these sectors.
A WISE decision for females to get involved in science and engineering
With initiatives like WISE looking to close the gap between the gender disparity felt by women within the science industry, there is perhaps headway being made when it comes to addressing this issue; there are more and more schemes coming out that are actively promoting women in science, especially engineering which is seen as a male dominated sector, and
The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) initiative has been around for 30 years, and its aim has always been to increase the gender balance in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic disciplines, by offering support, workshops, training and
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Women In Science
appears to still be so.
Why should men have all the fun when it comes to engineering?
Despite the figures showing a very bleak picture for female scientists, especially in Europe, there is some hope at least that women in science are progressing in their careers.
It may come as a shock to many to learn that the UK fares worst when it comes to the lack of female engineers in Europe. In fact, there are only 9% of female engineers in the UK, compared to 18% in Spain, 26% in Sweden and 20% in Italy. This low percentage of women in engineering is why there are now programmes and initiatives being announced to help increase this figure, and get more women into engineering, as well as science as a whole. In 2012, the European Commission launched a campaign called ‘Science – It’s a girl thing!’ with the aim at encouraging more girls interested in science and engineering. Another project funded by the EU is The Towards Women in Science and Technology (TWIST) initiative and it looks at the issues surrounding female scientists, by coordinating various activities at science centres around Europe. It’s not all doom and gloom for female scientists when it comes to 48
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It may come as a surprise to some that women are benefiting from making the move abroad to secure jobs within their specialist disciplines. This social mobility is largely down to the Marie Curie Fellowships, which have been available for 20 years. What this does is promote mobility to those scientists who are in the early stages of their career. Female scientists are eagerly making the move to foreign lands to climb the career ladder in their chosen field, and with plenty of initiatives being announced to support and promote women in science; it’s only a matter of time before the gender disparity in Europe is balanced. Fellowships to award promising female scientists can help boost their research Women in science is a huge talking point for many reasons, and this is why there are so many initiatives, projects and campaigns all over the
world aimed at addressing the issue, and promoting gender equality in the sector. The L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme is aimed at recognising the achievements of female scientists all over the world. These achievements are rewarded with fellowships being offered to further their research within their chosen discipline. The International Laurete Programme selects five ground breaking female scientists, one from each continent, every year, by awarding $100, 000 to each of them. The women who receive this are at the very top of their research fields, contributing to scientific progress and really making a difference in their disciplines. Whilst this programme is aimed at those across the globe, the overall programme offering fellowships are awarded to those scientists who are working in the EU. What do the numbers look like for women in engineering roles? Despite there being some mild positivity in the gender disparity felt by women within the science sector as a whole, the discipline of engineering is facing perhaps
the most stark contrast in terms of positions for women. Specifically in the UK, only 6% of the engineering workforce is female, with only 5.5% of women in professional engineering roles. Add to this the fact that only 27% of engineering and science technicians are female and it really does show a bleak picture for the gender disparity in engineering. Whilst the numbers show the lack of women in job roles when it comes to engineering and science, the figures from education are just as low. In 2012, almost 4 out of 5 students who studied A level physics were male. But of those females who did complete higher education in a science, engineering or technology based discipline, only half went onto to work within these industries, compared to their male counterparts where 68% are working within the sector they graduated from. Perhaps as a direct impact of those figures, men were awarded 85% of engineering and technology degrees, making engineering
specifically a male dominated sector, with very little representation by women. Although the numbers may speak volumes, in some disciplines there has been progress As with many industries, the gender gap felt between women and men will always be scrutinised, dissected and investigated. This is the reason why there are so many initiatives, projects and campaigns aimed at getting women into science, and keeping them there. Of course, with anything, education is key, and it couldn’t be more relevant for the engineering sector. Schools, colleges and universities are there to actively promote careers to students, and they’re great places to attract women into a science career. With the UK faring the worst when it comes to recruiting female engineers in Europe, there’s even more scope for the science, engineering and technology sectors to get women
more involved, interested and engaged than ever before. Many may argue that there is a gender disparity in almost every industry but the figures and statistics speak for themselves, and with so many talented female scientists across the globe, the many projects being actively promoted by the European Commission provide some hope that one day the gender disparity in science will become more balanced. The social mobility enjoyed by many women within science is a massive positive for choosing a career in science, and specifically engineering. With campaigns offering cash incentives, fellowships and rewards for female scientists, and researchers, there’s now more reason for women to get actively involved in pursuing a career in their chosen discipline, without them feeling like they can only get so far before they feel they need to hang their lab coats up and call it a day.
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Breast Cancer Detection
Global Scientia’s Gillian McNicoll
BREAST CANCER DETECTION
Breast cancer detection and treatment get a boost, as do survival rates At present, the funding for breast cancer research is currently making headlines. On social media, people have gone wild with the ‘no make up selfies’ to show their support of breast cancer research. Users post a photo of themselves on the internet, and then donate money to cancer research. It appears that the detection and treatment of breast cancer as a whole is set to get a massive boost though, as a new nanomaterial is being used to develop a method for early detection and better treatment by scientists from Germany, Brazil, the UK and Denmark. Breast cancer is currently the most common form of cancer in
the UK, with one in eight women developing it in their life. With current detection methods only being able to find between 65% and 95% of cancers, both detection and better treatment need a considerable amount of work to prevent the spread of cancer to other areas, if it isn’t caught early on. So how has this new detection and treatment been developed? The scientists collaborated to develop a bio-nanocomposite that will eventually lead to earlier detection and more successful treatment of breast cancer. This new material builds on the fact that cancer cells attract a molecule called hydroxyapatite, which is found in the human body. In order to detect breast cancer,
the team are developing magnetic nanoparticles coated with a biocompatible polymer, which will include hydroxyapatite nanocrystals, and when this is put into the body, the nanoparticles will make their way to cancer cells making detection much easier. Nanoparticles help to detect cancers, but they also help to prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body because hydroxyapatite restricts cancer cells from spreading further. The nanocomposites not only aid in the detecton of cancer, but can also be used to treat cancer in the form of a drug delivery system. These nanoparticles can carry anticancer drugs, specifically to tumour sites and because they are magnetic, external magnets can also be used to direct them to tissue affected by breast cancer. It’s still early days yet for this new, innovative technique, and it is by no means a finished product. The scientists are now working on an anti-tumour drug that can be used alongside the material, in order to enhance the treatment of breast cancer. By using neutrons, it means doctors will be able to see if the
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drug is having an impact and being taken in by the affected cells. Britain is seeing an increase in the survival of breast cancer, and compared to other European countries, patients are being treated more quickly. In fact, over the last twenty years, deaths from breast cancer have fallen by 41% in England and Wales. Experts believe that patients in Britain have the benefit of the introduction of new drugs in recent decades, which have remarkably reduced death rates from 41.9% to 25.4%. The fight against breast cancer is continuing Research into the causes, detection and treatment of breast cancer is being conducted around the world, with scientists constantly aiming to uncover new detection methods and drugs for the battle against breast cancer. There are many laboratory tests being carried out into the detection of breast cancer cells. One of these is a test that finds cells that have broken away from the tumour, and can be detected using a very
sensitive test. Imaging tests are also being developed in order to further enhance the detection of breast cancer among patients, and to check for abnormalities that could be, or lead to breast cancer. Scinitimammography or molecular breast imaging uses a radioactive tracer that is injected into a vein, and attaches itself to breast cancer cells. A special camera is used to identify and detect the cells. This technique is currently being studied to see if it is useful in detecting breast cancer, with some believing it may prove helpful in identifying suspicious areas that regular mammograms detect. 3D mammography or Tomosynthesis is effiectively a development of a digital mammogram, with many low-dose x-rays being taken as the breast is compressed. This gives the benefit of being able to see specific areas more clearly, however more studies are needed to provide the necessary evidence to how this technique could be used in the detection of breast cancer. Much like detection, treatment is also an important aspect for
scientists specifically looking into how to develop new ways of treating breast cancer. A fairly new treatment called Oncoplastic surgery is being studied, wherby breasts are reshaped at the time of initial surgery for patients, but the approach is very new, and as such further tests are being carried out into this form of surgery. New drugs and targeted therapies are also being studied in order to provide different stages of breast cancer with the right treatment, ensuring that survival is possible among patients. These are still in their early stages, meaning there is scope for scientists to conduct further tests, to ensure that the correct drugs are used for patients. As with anything, there is not one type of treatment that fits all types of breast cancer, and as such different techniques need to be tested and experimented on in order to give the best possible outcome to those who have the disease. What is clear is that cancer research as a whole is taking steps in order to develop, test and treat the life-shattering condition that most people have directly or indirectly experienced in their lives.
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Maria Damanaki Blue Growth and the European recovery
In October 2012 all EU Member states backed our European ‘Blue Growth’ agenda for growth and job creation in the marine and maritime sectors. The EU recognises the potential of the sea and believes in the gravitational pull of our coastal and maritime regions for the economy. What we have tried to achieve in the last year, and the plans we have for the next years, recognise that Blue Growth can play a central role in this sustainable European recovery. Looking forward, 2014 will be a year where we showcase the maritime sector’s potential and we 52
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will make some tangible progress towards the aims we set out for Blue Growth. That’s because Greece has assumed the Presidency of the European Union for the first six months of 2014 after which another maritime nation, Italy, will take over for the second half of the year. With its sprawling coastlines, rich maritime tradition and its numerous coastal communities, the sector is of obvious and strategic interest to Greece. It is therefore of no surprise that maritime policy is one of the four thematic priorities which the Greek Presidency is focusing its energies on. And it will need all of its energies because these are
challenging times for the Blue Economy. But with challenge comes opportunity. The maritime sector employs 5.4 million people across Europe working in professions as diverse as shipbuilding, fishing and tourism, in growth areas such as offshore wind, or in emerging sectors such marine-based pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. But it could employ 7 million by 2020. And that is where the opportunity for Europe lies in these challenging times. To do this the Blue Growth agenda focuses on those maritime sectors which hold the greatest potential for new jobs and growth which include marine renewable energy, aquaculture, blue biotechnology, coastal tourism, and sea bed mining. It also places an emphasis on getting the infrastructure right by focusing on support for research and marine knowledge, maritime training, cost-efficient cooperation on maritime surveillance, improved planning of maritime space and the further implementation of the Marine strategy Framework directive. It is no coincidence that the period in which Greece has the Presidency will see the Commission publish three Communications which will strengthen our commitment in the areas of ocean energy, coastal tourism, and innovation in marine data and knowledge. In fact we have already started with our Action Plan on ocean energy. Ocean energy is a sector which can generate economic growth and jobs, reinforce our energy supply and strengthen our competitiveness through technological innovation. We believe that given the right support, ocean energy alone
can create innovative and sustainable jobs for today’s young people across areas such as project development, component manufacturing and operations. The potential is there if we are willing to commit to it – according to some studies wave energy alone could theoretically match 78% of the projected total energy consumption of the European Union in 2030. But to turn this potential into reality, support is crucial and it is needed now. Moving from prototypes to commercialisation has always been difficult for emerging technologies but given the economic context which we currently operate in it is even harder. We plan to create a forum for the industry to join forces to maximise the impact of the limited means that are currently available. We need a place where governments, industry, financers and stakeholders are able to meet and work together on a structural basis to discuss a strategic framework for the development of ocean energy sources. We’re also looking at Europe’s grid infrastructure, port facilities and specialised installation and maintenance vessels which must all be supported if we are to be able to cope with future volumes of ocean energy and transport it to wherever the demand is. For ocean energy to be a Blue Growth success it must be sustainable and we will work with other areas of the Commission to better understand the environmental impacts of ocean energy and develop solutions to mitigate any adverse effects ocean energy installations may have on marine ecosystems. Closer to the shore we must look at how we support the single largest activity of the maritime economy and something which impacts the daily lives on many Europeans: coastal tourism. This sector has been growing in recent years and is expected to keep growing by a further 2 to 3% Issue 4 |
a year for the next 20 years: it is only natural that it should feature high on our agenda but the economic crisis and the fierce competition from other parts of the world has complicated things. One of the big recurring challenges is that, of the 60% of Europeans who prefer the sea for their holidays, seven out of 10 take their trips between June and September. The impact of this seasonality on the ground is entire communities with widely fluctuating populations and job markets, which makes it all the more difficult to attract business investors. This is further exacerbated by the global growth of high spend tourists seeking remote destinations and being increasingly mobile in their travel destinations. The fragmented nature and limited levels of entrepreneurship in the sector may, if not addressed, continue to act as a barrier to satisfying the demands of the modern tourist. This is further exemplified by the lack of innovation skills (including shortage of marketing and other skills required for product diversification) and the scarcity of training and educational opportunities aimed at fostering such innovation. This leads to priced based competition which only serves to put a dent in profits and create difficulties in attracting long-term investment. These are real challenges for a sector with genuine growth potential and our upcoming Communication on Coastal and Maritime Tourism will help Member States confront some of these challenges by focusing on the structural issues of the sector and the challenges faced by communities on the ground. Underpinning our efforts across the entirety of the Blue Growth agenda is a commitment to better understanding the sea. We identified that a lack of access to marine data was holding back growth in the marine economy by increasing
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costs to offshore operators and causing a loss of productivity with time being spent on finding and assembling marine data when it could be devoted to much needed innovation development. This increasing uncertainty as to the seaâ€™s behaviour leads to, as we have invariably seen with any form of uncertainty across Europe and across sectors, an inherent reluctance to invest. All these issues affect those who work at sea, need to manage human activity on it, study it, live near it or are concerned to protect it for future generations. We will focus investment on improving productivity for those who use marine data and ensure that we strengthen marine scientific research. We will promote increased competition by encouraging innovation for which we must widen access to accurate, instantly available, coherent marine data. We will seek to reduce the level uncertainty in our knowledge of the oceans and the seas which will allow a clearer picture to form on their present state. This will allow us to evaluate the impacts of human activity, identify the risks in economic investments, and ultimately better equip ourselves for future changes. The Greek Presidencyâ€™s prioritising of maritime policy and its support for Blue Growth could help shape a sustainable and successful Europe. This focus will reinforce our collective commitment to maximising the potential of the sea in way which is sustainable in the long term economically, socially and environmentally. The Presidency will be holding a number of events throughout the first half of the year and I look forward to being involved with them and seeing the enthusiasm for making Blue Growth a reality. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Global Science and Technology
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IMC The research for a sustainable perspective for the management of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus
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The Foundation IMC â€“ International Marine Centre, as a pole of the Science and Technology Park of Sardinia, is committed in the development of research projects aimed to promote the introduction of innovative and sustainable techniques for the management of marine and coastal resources. In this perspective, IMC has been focusing its attention on biology, ecology and conservation of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. In most of its geographical range, in past or present, sea urchin gonads have been appreciated as seafood and their economic value has grown in an exponential way. The ease in harvesting sea urchins at low deeps, and its cheapness due to the few equipment required, linked with the long somatic growth of the species which does not allow the quick replacement of adults of commercial size, make this resource extremely endangered and, in addition to the rising demand and prices, are gradually leading to the overexploitation and decline of wild stocks. Nowadays, in Europe the consumption of P. lividus is mainly limited to France, Spain, Greece and Italy. In Sardinia, its harvest represents a traditional activity and contributes to the maintenance of the local traditional fishing.
Sea urchin roe. One of the most relevant problems of the fishing regulations in Sardinia is represented by the social implications: since the fishing of sea urchin is absolutely the kind of fishing characterized by lower capital outlay, it is traditionally practiced
by the poorer communities. The regional legislature takes account of this situation in order to allow those communities to benefit of such an important source of supplementary income, but to do this itâ€™s been too long neglected the issue of sustainability, with environmental consequences that today require a thorough review. Harvest is seasonal and normally permitted from November to May, just before the full maturation of the gonads and the spawning event (the emission of mature gametes). The growing request of roe by the local market is leading to a progressive depletion of natural resources, but, although Sardinian government has regulated fishing for sea urchin also with the purpose of bringing out the hidden economy of this important resource, the obtained results cannot be considered satisfactory, so at present no one is able to produce a reliable estimate of the amount actually harvested by commercial fishing. In some Sardinian areas as Sinis peninsula, even if protected by the establishment of a Marine Protected Area (MPA), fishing is partially permitted and densities of sea urchin stocks (adults of commercial
size) are gradually decreasing, suggesting a high pressure of harvesting in these areas. Due to the ecological and commercial importance of P. lividus, implementation of specific management measures is essential to restore wild stocks and mitigate impacts. The biological attributes of sea urchins and the dynamics of their fisheries suggest that, as for many sedentary invertebrates, the greatest prospect for long-term sustainability lies in small-scale management. In addition, some form of exclusivity of access to natural sea urchin populations would promote an intelligent harvesting to maximize the roe value. For all the reasons above, one of the key issues relating to the management of the sea urchin as a natural and economic resource, is whether control of overexploitation should be operated only through the regulation of the season and daily catch limits, or whether it can be set by means of controlled reseeding techniques. By the point of view of resource management, the challenge might be to develop on a regional scale Issue 4 |
a production chain of sea urchin based on the rearing of juveniles for reseeding and adults for the market, also through polyculture techniques integrated with other species of commercial relevance characterized by shorter production cycles. In order to provide a scientific contribution to this debate, the IMC has developed over time a set of projects specifically addressed to the biology, ecology and resource management of the sea urchin, in nature and in breeding. Projects Interest for sea urchin started in 2000 with a pilot study on the experimental culture of P.lividus in rearing tanks, named “Advanced Technologies and Innovation for the valorization of marine bioresources”, funded by The Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR). The optimal diet was identified after investigation on the feeding habits of the wild sea urchin population in the gulf of Oristano, whose genome was then
characterized through mitochondrial DNA sequencing (Homeobox genes, fingerprinting technique), in order to use this genetic markers for a possible “active repopulation”. The results were preparatory to the set-up of a controlled culture systems for sea urchin rearing, with the aim of obtaining a final product (cultured adults) with the same organoleptic characteristics of the wild populations. Larvae gained metamorphosis in 23 days after fertilization, with a mean survival rate of 70%. Mean rate of larvae which gained metamorphosis was 81%. Thereafter, sea urchin natural resources were investigated in the eyes of their sustainable management in the Penisola del Sinis – Isola di Mal di Ventre Marine Protected Area (Sardinian central western coasts). Through the STM project, after the characterization of the major environmental parameters of Sinis, the optimal habitat and the preferred diet for P.lividus were identified, results pointed out that
sandstone was preferred by small individuals and basalt by bigger ones, and Phaeophyceae and Rodophyceae were the favourite algae. In addition, suggestions to better regulate sea urchin harvesting in the MPA were given to the managing authority; the probable impact on the marine environment of an active repopulation of sea urchins was estimated. From that moment onward, IMC began a close collaboration with Sardinian Marine Protected Areas (Penisola del Sinis – Isola di Mal di Ventre, Tavolara – Punta Coda Cavallo MPAs) and Parks (La Maddalena Park), suggesting guidelines to improve the sustainable management of the resource. Methods for the assessment of sea urchin population dynamics developed by IMC in the AMPAMED project, i.e. abundance and structure of whole population and stock, predicting models of stock variations due to fishery and natural mortality, have been applied to the Bouche de Bonifacio Nature Reserve, in the Ventilègne Gulf (Corsica). Recently, IMC has worked on the study of stock assessment and population structure of P.lividus in some MPAs to assess the effectiveness of protection measures and design management strategies, through studies of population dynamics and growth. Results
Larval stages of P. lividus.
Culture system of sea urchin larvae. 58
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Post-larva after metamorphosis.
Interambulacral plate of P. lividus with growth rings
a low pressure of harvesting in these areas. Age and growth rate, respectively through the count of growth rings and application of the Gompertz equation, were assessed in the populations of Tavolara and Penisola del Sinis – Isola di Mal di Ventre MPAs; at equal age, individuals from Tavolara had larger diameters and a higher growth rate than those from Sinis, probably due to a low levels of harvesting pressure and natural predation in the MPA area. IMC was the promoter of the advanced workshop, the “Sea Urchin Aquaculture” which led to the publication of the book “The Sea Urchin: From Basic Biology to Aquaculture”(2002, Yokota Y., Matranga V., Smolenicka Z., Eds.), published by A.A. Balkema, and involved scientist from national and international Institutes and Universities of the caliber of the Aichi Prefectural University (Japan) and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research-National Centre for Mariculture (Israel), which continue to collaborate up to now with IMC. Population structure of P. lividus in three Sardinian MPAs.
Growth curves obtained by the application of the Gompertz equation for some Mediterranean populations of P. lividus. indicate that, where sea urchin harvesting pressure is intense the mean size of P. lividus population dramatically reduces, as in Penisola del Sinis – Isola di Mal di Ventre MPA, with low densities for large-
sized sea urchins. On the contrary, in Tavolara – Punta Coda Cavallo MPA and La Maddalena Park large-sized individuals represent a relevant portion of the sea urchin populations (over 50%), suggesting
IMC is currently cooperating with important scientific partners such as the Sardinian Universities (Cagliari and Sassari) and Porto Conte Ricerche, pole located in Alghero of the Science and Technology Park, and is involved in two important Regional projects: “Integrated approach for the protection, management and valorization of the sea urchin resource in Sardinia”, in collaboration with the Sardinian Universities, and “Molecular characterization of sea urchin gonads finalized to the determination of the quality of the product”, together with Porto Conte Ricerche. The first project aims at contributing to the protection of P. lividus in Sardinia through the acquisition of scientific knowledge about reproduction of wild stocks, recruitment and possibility of active repopulation in the wild, to define Issue 4 |
IMC reproduction, they should be used to highlight the most profitable moment for collecting the gonads of wild and cultured individuals. Challenges
Histological sections of P. lividus: immature (on the left)/mature (on the right) females (above) and males (below) those factors that mainly determine the variability in abundance of populations and identify useful tools for a proper management and economic valorization. The goal of the second one is characterizing the biochemical composition which determines the quality of the roe of P. lividus and how it varies in different environmental conditions, to maximize the speed of growth and the quality of the product. Researches for both projects are simultaneously carried on in two Sardinian areas (Su Pallosu, western coast, and Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo MPA, north-eastern coast) with different environmental characteristics as prevailing wind, substrate and algal coverage. The trend of the gonadosomatic index (GSI, relationship between gonads weight and total body weight) shows higher values in individuals of the north-eastern coast, probably linked to a greater strength and frequency of winds in the western area, which generate mechanical stress for individuals that automatically feed less intensely, contributing to reduce gonads size. Histological analysis of gonads points out a slight asynchrony of reproductive cycles between the two populations examined, with a probable earlier spawning event in the western coast reasonably due to the different environmental conditions. One year of results will led to gain useful knowledge for a appropriate management of resources and, in addition to preserve the species in the crucial moment of the 60
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IMC has always been focused on improving the conservation of P.lividus by means of its sustainable management. IMC researchers are aware that wild resources should be investigated through studies on reproductive biology, ecology, growth and population dynamics (stock assessment, population structure), in areas with different grade of protection; but they are also developing new methods to release into the wild (reseeding) juveniles obtained by in vitro fertilization of mature adults (collected in the wild to preserve the natural genetic diversity), after preliminary studies on the best environmental conditions which optimize the survival of small individuals, as well as recruitment and predation. Rearing of larvae and adults in controlled tanks for commercial purposes should be promoted, to avoid the overexploitation of wild
Juveniles of P. lividus reared in laboratory.
resources; aquaculture systems allow to gain briefly juveniles which can be released in the wild or maintained in the farm up to the achievement of a commercial size, and then directly sold to trades. In particular, IMC is investing energies and knowledge in sustainable integrated aquaculture, which contemplate the presence of sea urchins as an integral part of the system. IMC is working for the improvement of aquaculture techniques with the purpose of obtaining gonads with enhanced size and quality (determined by taste, colour, shape and firmness), crucial prerequisites to profitable sea urchin aquaculture. Enhancing the quality of gonads of P. lividus in reduced time of growth represents one of the future challenges of IMC researchers. Barbara Loi, Maura Baroli, Paolo Mossone Foundation IMC - International Marine Centre Torregrande, Loc. Sa Mardini - 09170 Oristano (Italy) email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
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Global Scientia’s Kyle Northern
Marine research in Europe is a particular focus for the European strategy when it comes to the threat on ecosystems from the unsustainable use of seas and oceans. From fishing and transport, to wind farms, seas have a value far greater to the EU than its cities, offering clean coastal areas and wildlife and in turn stabilising the climate. The EU is determined to clean up coasts, seas and oceans as part of its Coastal and Marine Policy, enabling the wider population to use them in a sustainable way, whether it is for tourism, fishing or mineral extraction. Funding is available through a number of initiatives already launched in Europe There are plenty of initiatives currently around which are aimed at strengthening the EUs research into marine science, and one of these is the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS). MASTS is a group of organisations that are working together in marine science, and makes up most of Scotland’s marine research. The overall aim is to ensure improved 62
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communication, collaboration and co-ordination, whilst providing Scotland with international recognition when it comes to marine science. As part of the MASTS programme, three main research themes have been established. The first is ‘Dynamics and Properties of Marine Systems’. Under this theme, the attributes of marine systems including marine physics and oceanography are looked at. The second key area under the MASTS initiative is ‘Productive Seas’. This theme is aimed at using science in order to improve the sustainability of marine environments, with both energy and food security being seen as paramount to the success of marine science. ‘Marine Biodiversity, Function and Services’ is the third research theme as part of MASTS. It addresses research on the value of society playing a role in marine habitats and the impact that socio-economic factors of exploitation and climate change bring. The European Commission also offers funding for projects and initiatives that actively promote its
policies throughout the EU, and further afield too. There are two different programmes available to secure funding. The LIFE fund supports environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU and has a funding budget of ¢3.4 billion for 2014-2020. The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (CIP-EIP) is the second programme on offer from the European Commission. CIP-EIP supports projects and grants funding in eco-innovation through three separate initiatives. These are financial instruments, network of actors, and pilot and market replication project. These three initiatives offer opportunities for funding through grants, as well as procurement tenders. The European Marine Board The European Marine Board develops the position of European marine science through common research priorities and strategies. This is done through co-operation between those involved in supporting, delivering and using
marine technology. It is an independent advisory body, and as such provides essential access for the transference of knowledge from the scientific community to decision makers, helping the leadership of marine research and technology become prominent in Europe. The gap between science and policy is addressed through four principles
under the European Marine Board. The Forum principle brings together stakeholders in marine research helping them share knowledge and identify priorities, allowing them opportunities for collaboration. The second principle of the board is Synergy, which helps to add value to Europe by providing access to national infrastructures, actively promoting collaboration with international organisations.
The Strategy principle identifies scientific challenges through studies, and on the back of this gives recommendations for European and national research bodies. The final principle is Voice, which is used to express a shared vision of European marine research priorities in order to meet and address future science and societal challenges.
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Current projects under The European Marine Board One project which is currently underway is the SEAS-ERA programme, with a budget of €2m over 48 months. The programme started in May 2010 and will run until April 2014. It is made up of twenty-one partners from 18 countries, and its aim is to help towards establishing a European Marine and Maritime Research Agenda, and to develop a structure for its roll out. Another project that is currently underway is the Science and Technology Advancing Governance of Good Environmental Status (STAGES). It has a budget of €1m and started in September 2012, with an end date of August 2014. This project is addressing the issue of environmental factors within marine science, by requiring member states to ensure measures are in place to maintain “Good Environmental 64
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Status” by 2020. Horizon 2020 is going some way to ensuring marine research is a priority for the EU With the launch of Horizon 2020, it brought with it many funding opportunities for science, innovation and technology. But, there are significant funds available specifically for marine research as part of Horizon 20202. In fact, €200m has been set aside for the first two years of the seven year programme, with other opportunities on offer under the various other sections, such as food, energy and climate change. The EU is hoping to strengthen its own marine science, whilst promoting its countries as leaders and innovators in this area With the many initiatives already launched to address the issues that marine science brings, the EU is hoping to strengthen their
ecosystems, making sustainability a top priority whilst also showing the rest of the world that they are capable of managing their own marine science activities. The possibilities by investing in marine research are endless, providing opportunity for wildlife, sustainability, the general public and activities that can help towards things like climate change, and making systems more sustainable, reducing stretched resources, by providing alternatives and solutions to current problems. Not only are there independent, non-government funded initiatives being launched, but with the roll out of Horizon 2020 and its support, dedication and massive funds available to marine research, the European Commission is really getting behind the need to address the issue of marine science, whilst ensuring they clean up their act, as well as their coast lines and oceans.
Global Science and Technology
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Global Scientiaâ€™s Kyle Northern
Energy research is a main priority for the EU when it comes to investing, innovating and boosting renewable energy in Europe. The aim is to get 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, from the likes of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. If this is achieved, it means greenhouse emissions will be cut, with less dependency on imported energy, which in turn will boost renewables and encourage innovation in technology, as well as employment around Europe.
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Nuclear Energy Research Almost 30% of the EUs electricity consumption is provided by nuclear power, so research into nuclear energy is a top priority for the European Commission. Safety and security issues will be addressed as part of this, with carbon-free technology being used with renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gases, decreasing the current dependency on imported energy. The demand for global energy within the EU is increasing, and
heavily relies on imports to meet energy needs. In the year 2007, the EU depended on imported energy at a rate of around 53%, and itâ€™s estimated that if this current trend continues, this dependence will grow to 67% by 2030. This impacts the CO2 emissions as well, with forecasts predicting that by the same year, levels will reach 5.4%. With 151 nuclear reactors currently operating within the EU, providing over 30% of the electricity need in Europe, evidence shows that around 700 million tonnes of CO2 emissions are avoided each year as a result.
Fission and Fusion Nuclear Research Nuclear fission splits apart the nucleus of an atom, and by adopting and having control over this process at industrial level, it means a vast amount of the energy that is released to generate electricity can be used for the wider society. Generating electricity in this way means less greenhouse gas emissions, and the uranium that is used is mined in Australia and
Canada, though there is continued efforts to ensure that the highest level of safety is adopted whilst operating under this type of research, ensuring that all aspects of the process are managed correctly. Energy production isnâ€™t the only aspect of nuclear science; radiation is used in medical forms like X-rays, cancer radiotherapy and radioactive tracers. A process called Fusion powers the Sun, and this energy is used
to make life on Earth a reality. It is the opposite of nuclear fission, as energy is released when two light atoms are combined. Currently, scientists are working to reproduce fusion on a much smaller scale, but there are scientific challenges in the way. Fusion energy is important as it provides a potential sustainable solution to energy needs around the world. By using fuels that are universally available, and
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environmentally responsible, it provides a much-needed way to garner sustainable energy. The raw fuels for fusion energy are water and lithium. These two types of fuel aren’t limited, and there’s a readily available supply of both, making fusion energy a positive solution to sustainable energy. Safety is a huge issue when it comes to energy sources, and with fusion energy, the risk to people is low. The raw fuels used in the reactor aren’t radioactive, and there is no transport of radioactive fuels for a fusion power plant. The impact on the environment for fusion energy is in stark contrast to current energy systems. There’s no greenhouse gases produced by this process, and no harmful pollutants or long-lasting radioactive waste. The European Energy Research Alliance The European Energy Research 68
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Alliance (EERA) brings together leading organisations in energy research. Its aim is to ensure that the capabilities of energy research become stronger. By sharing world-class facilities, and research programmes that are combined, it means the expansion of energy technologies to a point where they are ready to be used in industrydriven research. Bioenergy Bioenergy can be used to address climate change, and improve the security of the energy supply in Europe. The raw material used can be from forests and agriculture, the by-products of the wood industry and waste streams. Geothermal Energy This is energy that is stored below the earth’s surface in the form of heat. It’s currently used for district heating, and the heating and cooling of buildings, like houses and shops.
Geothermal Energy plays an important part in the search for a renewable energy source, because it is a resource that is nearly infinite, environmentally friendly and cannot easily be seen. As it doesn’t depend on climatic conditions, it means it can be controlled easily and is safely. This, along with how adaptable it is, makes it an ideal source of renewable energy, as it can be used for many energy needs. Cost and sustainability play a big role in energy research, and geothermal energy is cheap, has longevity, and will reduce the carbon footprint around the world. Hydropower In the EU, small hydropower is used for electricity production in many countries. The fairly simple process of hydropower uses kinetic energy and pressure from falling water, whether it be from canals, rivers or streams.
This water drives a turbine, converting the pressure of the water and motion into mechanical energy, which is then converted into electricity by a generator.
development, with the hope that they will become operational in the next three years.
This type of energy is used to convert light into electricity; using the cells of semi-conducting materials does this.
The European electricity supply can benefit from the renewable energy found in the ocean. By converting wave energy into electricity, the supply and demand for many countries in Europe can be strengthened. Several European countries have seen a dedicated infrastructure for wave and tidal sea trials created over the past few years. These trials address the release of technologies from prototype to the commercial phase. Currently, there are several grid connected test areas that are under
It is estimated that photovoltaic electricity will become a mainstream power source in Europe by 2020, and a major power source by 2050. Solar Thermal Systems using solar thermal energy use the sun to heat up water, which is placed in a dark vessel. These technologies are efficient and reliable, providing energy for a range of purposes like providing hot water for houses, as well as heat in industrial processes.
Using solar thermal energy has a number of benefits, which are: The availability of the resource, and its worldwide reach Its proven track record and reliability Heating bills are substantially reduced Local jobs are created with these systems in place, which helps the local economy grow Significantly reduces the dependency on imported fuels Adds diversity to the energy supply in the EU It saves scarce natural resources Reduces CO2 emissions Energy and nuclear research is an important factor for the EU, and over the next thirty years, the energy needs will be addressed, with resources being developed in order to provide more sustainable, efficient and reliable energy sources.
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Cockcroft Institute Ditanet Collaboration harnesses power of the beam for industry
Successful â€˜open innovationâ€™ between companies, research institutes and universities requires an understanding of different research cultures as well as resolving the technology issues. One of the most high profile scientific developments to capture the imagination of the public in recent years has been the search for the Higgs boson, which was finally discovered in 2012 at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, in Switzerland. This research has given new insights into the very building blocks of the Universe and has positioned accelerator physics as one of the most exciting areas of science. It is not just the public that is intrigued; accelerator physics is also attracting interest from business as it has many medical and industrial applications. However, it is an emerging field and requires the resolution of many technology issues, such as the development of tools to control and measure the particle beams, before the commercial opportunities can be realised. The need to create a pool of research fellows with the skills required by industry was recognised by Professor Carsten Welsch who is now Associate Director of the Cockcroft Institute, the 70
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international centre for accelerator science and technology in the UK.
education network to fast track research within beam instrumentation.
Prof. Welsch had previously worked within a number of key research institutes and as he could see that academia was not keeping up with the demands of industry. He comments, “Accelerator physics is not a classic field of physics and it has become increasingly apparent that unless we take action now, we will soon be facing a shortage of researchers trained in this interdisciplinary area.”
This was to become the basis for the Marie Curie Initial Training Network DITANET (Diagnostic Techniques for particle Accelerators - a European NETwork) project which was created to offer research fellows industry-relevant training and to create a community of industry and academic researchers working in this field.
Prof. Welsch saw the opportunity to develop an
With a budget of up to 4.16 M€ DITANET
Identifying gaps in knowledge
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became the largest-ever EU funded education action aimed at early stage and experienced researchers. Prof Welsch continues, â€œTo ensure that the training programme within DITANET was comprehensive and appropriate to the needs of the industry, we got partners from businesses, universities and research centres all involved at an early stage. â€œWe looked at the whole field and identified the gaps in knowledge using input from the partners. 72
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This information was used to define R&D projects for each of the research fellows and to ensure that the training was industry-relevant at all project stages. This approached enabled us to deliver the best possible researcher training from the point of view of the whole consortium. â€œIn addition, we encouraged partners to provide secondments so that fellows got a variety of R&D experiences in different sectors. This offered them a better basis for their future career choices and the partners benefited from fresh
perspectives. Working with Thermo Scientific One of these partners organisations was Thermo Scientific - CIDTEC, the cameras and imagers division of Thermo Fisher Scientific, in Liverpool, USA. Dr. Michael J. Pilon, General Manager of Thermo Scientific – CIDTEC, explains that the group was already a supplier to CERN, one of the DITANET project’s key partners, and had invested multimillions into R&D of its software and hardware. He says the company is committed to the field.
their active involvement strengthened the links through the community. “Through necessity industry is often focused on gaining results within tight timeframes. This provides incremental improvements but can prevent a wider exploration of the type that can result in a step change in performance. Contact between industry and academia can help push these boundaries.”
“As a scientist myself I was keen that CIDTEC was at the forefront of this worthy scientific endeavor and I could see how playing a role in DITANET would benefit the research community. I was excited to help drive the project forward.” Cameras are used in particle accelerator research for beam imaging, collecting light generated by the charged particle beam. This has applications in areas such as cancer treatment, nuclear power plant inspection and optical emission spectroscopy. Cameras based on CID (charge injection device) technology are radiation hard and able to provide images with a high dynamic range, which means that a larger fraction of the beam can be imaged, a feature that is particularly valuable for scientific imaging. Dr. Pilon explains that each camera has a different mode of operation depending on its application; “DITANET Fellow Maja Olvegard joined us from CERN, to work on optimizing the extreme dynamic range algorithm in our SpectraCAM XDR™, as we had not been able to replicate the results that had been achieved in previous studies.“ “Maja successfully identified two limitations; one in the software and the other in the light source and this made an immediate improvement to the performance of the camera.“ “The experience was a good one, we learned a lot about the pressure points on the algorithm and where to look for improvements.” Positive feedback Prof Welsch comments that feedback from the industry partners has been very positive and Issue 4 |
Maja agrees, she says that she gained new insights from working with Thermo Fisher in the US.
project (Optimization of Particle Accelerators) and Thermo Fisher has continued its involvement by becoming a partner of this new programme.
“I would describe the way of working and thinking at Thermo Fisher as more pragmatic than in academia. They look to answer questions and then to finding a solution. In academia we are focused on finding answers but have less need (or patience, or funds) to go further and fix problems.“
Creating a community “At Thermo Fisher they were also much better at sharing tasks: a number of people had an adequate background to tackle different work tasks. By working alongside these experts it is possible to learn from them and to get advice on how to approach these assignments. Unlike in academia - at least for PhD students – where one is often a specialist working on your own project.” One of the unique features of DITANET was the focus on creating a community, using workshops and training courses to bring together people from different aspects of the field. Often it was found they had more in common than expected. Maja continues; “Through participation in DITANET I have come in contact with students and researchers at other institutes in a natural way. Thanks to those meetings I have a good overview of the world of particle accelerators in general and beam diagnostics in particular.” Value greater than funding This is one of the aspects of DITANET that has been particularly successful. Although the funding came to an end in Summer 2013 the consortium has continued to organise international training events for the wider beam diagnostics community and actively promote research collaboration in beam instrumentation.
Prof. Welsch says that this is an endorsement for the approach taken by DITANET. “Usually the enthusiasm wanes when the funding stops but in DITANET the value was greater than the money. The institutions can see the benefit of the community that had been developed and want to keep this going.” The learning points from DITANET have been incorporated into a new project also coordinated by the Cockcroft Institute, the EU-funded oPAC 74
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oPAC is the largest network in Europe with 30 institutions and 22 research fellows. The project has brought together several communities of scientists – those involved in beam instrumentation with others developing models, simulations, control systems and the computer tools needed to track particles. Prof Welsch says, “The challenge is bringing together these diverse communities and getting them to communicate with each other and collaborate. We articulate the questions and through workshops and secondments which encourage the fellows to see how researchers in different fields use different tools to tackle similar issues. We are confident that the outcomes will equal if not exceed those of DITANET.” About the Cockcroft Institute The Cockcroft Institute is an international centre for accelerator science and technology in the UK. It is a joint venture between the Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC at the Daresbury and Rutherford Appleton Laboratories). The Institute is located in a purpose-built building on the Sci-TechCampus adjacent to the Daresbury Laboratory and the Daresbury Innovation Centre, and has established satellite centres in each of the participating universities. About Thermo Fisher The CIDTEC Camera and imagers division of Thermo Fisher Scientific develops and produces cameras based on charge injection device technology. CID-based cameras have found their niche in applications requiring extreme radiation tolerance and the high dynamic range scientific imaging. The main advantages of CIDs include UV sensitivity due to relatively high fill factor and radiation hardness. Depending on the specific design, CIDs may also be capable of true randomaccess pixel addressing for nondestructive or destructive read-out and charge clear. These capabilities allow for scientific images with extreme high dynamic range. The combination of these properties makes a CID imager an excellent choice for nuclear, medical, industrial
Global Science and Technology
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