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Inga Vesper
London
Research Europe reporter
Recent Activity
BBC science interviewers sometimes do get over-excited when the person on the other microphone is a woman. Indeed “expert” interviewees from the “other” gender are a rare sight on BBC programmes more generally. In four years worth of programmes on BBC Question Time, only 98 of the 362 panellists were women. When you combine a woman who is also a senior scientist with that other legendary beast, the EU, it makes for cringeworthy listening. This was the case with University of Surrey professor Jim al-Khalili’s interview on The Life Scientific with Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser to the president of the European Commission—José Manuel Barroso. Though I wonder why Barroso’s name was never mentioned in the programme. Glover has occupied this high profile and controversial post for four years, so you would think the interviewer would have plenty of material... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at Research Blogs
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Welcome to our Horizon 2020 Calls Day live blog. We'll bring you the latest news on calls and funding, plus reaction and analysis, thoughout the day. All times are UK local. For more in-depth analysis check out our summary of all Horizon 2020 Work Programmes. Please refresh this page regularly to see the latest entries. And do check us out on Twitter—@ResearchEurope. Enjoy! 15:41 - A word of warning on the deadlines included in the call summaries on the participant portal: don’t take them as guaranteed. Several of the calls have more than one round of funding, and for these the Commission has only listed the latest cut off dates. Ones we have spotted already under pillar one are the ERC Proof of Concept grants, and the FET Open calls. So make sure you check the call details (or our... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2013 at Research Blogs
Dear readers, to help you get on top of the Horizon 2020 Work Programmes, Laura Greenhalgh and Inga Vesper have prepared a list of handy summaries. These include details about call topics and budgets, as well as some analysis on recent trends and future prognoses for scientific fields covered by these programmes. You'll find all summaries here. Enjoy the read! Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2013 at Research Blogs
This editorial first appeared in Research Europe 352, 25.10.12. The EU’s Nobel peace prize couldn’t be more timely Much ridicule has been poured onto the collective heads of the Norwegian Nobel committee for its decision on 12 October to award the 2012 Nobel peace prize to the EU. But it is the detractors of the award who are making themselves look ridiculous. The award is in fact timely. In the face of the great difficulties now facing the Eurozone, the lessons of the past are at risk of being forgotten. The EU richly deserves this prize for one, overarching achievement alone: for excising the ghosts of 20th-century Europe and rendering war between France and Germany unthinkable. Those who ridicule the award point to recent demonstrations in Athens and Madrid as evidence for their position, but they seem to hold a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2012 at Research Blogs
Research Europe has done a round-up of the first reactions to the European Commission's proposal for the next multianuual research funding framework programme. Click on the titles if you'd like to read for yourself. Gernot Klotz, European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry: “Horizon 2020 has a focus on output rather than being over prescriptive. We support the use of bridging actions to coordinate programmes and the inclusion of pilot plant and scale-up activities that are vital to moving ideas into the market quickly.” European Factories of the Future Research Association: “The budget for the ‘Factories of the Future’ PPP has not been allocated yet. Considering that in ‘Factories of the Future’ PPP was funded by both the NMP and the ICT programmes, it is promising to see that for Horizon 2020 the NMP budget will receive €4,3 billion (which is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2011 at Research Blogs
The European Research Council is Framework 7’s ultimate success story. No other programme has created so much prestige for European Commission funding, and has inspired so many individual scientists to take part in the Framework Programme. The ERC, which has two funding streams for early-career and advanced excellent researchers, has, since 2007, funded over 2,200 researchers. All this, including the creation of the organisation from scratch and the establishment of an independent assessment operation, has been achieved with “only” €7.5 billion in Framework 7. Now, with the Horizon 2020 proposal for the next Framework Programme, the ERC has received the Commission’s knighthood honours. The proposal would bring the institutions budget up to nearly €15bn euros for 2014-2020. This increase is among the largest for Commission projects carried over from Framework 7 to Horizon 2020 – only the European Institute of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2011 at Research Blogs
Session 3: Intercontinental partnerships - building a track record of success. Speakers for this session are Alan Langlands, chief executive at HEFCE, Howard Newby, vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool, and Pramath Sinha, director of the International Foundation for Research and Education, India. The session is chaired by Richard Daniel, environment reporter at the BBC. Please refresh for updates and read from the bottom up. Alan Langlands, our first speaker, says disproportionally high amount of REF funding will go to those who are internationally competitive. He adds that governments must sustain balance between curiosity-driven research and research targeted on national priorities. The grand challenges must be tackled, but UK strengths in basic research must be protected. Next up is Howard Newby, who will talk about how international collaboration can be made to pay off. Newby's university, the University of Liverpool,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2011 at Research Blogs
After our August summer break Research Europe is back in business. We will publish our next issue on 15 September, brimming with research policy news from across Europe. To give you a taster of what is to come, our guest author James Brooks is looking at international rankings, and what they mean to EU universities. The publication of the 2011 Shanghai Jiaotong rankings last month showed what is already common knowledge – over the past years European universities have not managed to profoundly improve their position in international academic rankings. We asked the universities of Sheffield, Stockholm, Utrecht and Zurich, who made it into the top 100, if they set much store by their placing. Just how important is a good placing nowadays? Crucially, are their strategies influenced by a desire to climb the table? The short answer to that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2011 at Research Blogs
The next Framework Programme will be worth €80.2 billion if the European Commission gets its way, the proposal for the 20140-2020 Commission budget has shown. This would represent a 46 per cent increase on the budget of Framework 7, which runs from 2007 to 2013 and is worth about €56bn. In a statement announcing the budget proposal, the Commission said that the increase is meant to boost Europe’s economy and shows a lasting commitment to research, science and innovation. "This is an anti-crisis budget, a pro-jobs budget and a budget for tackling our biggest challenges—things like climate change, energy and food security, health and our ageing population,” said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the research commissioner. “It's a pro-growth budget and more growth means less austerity for less long.” The European Commission proposal was announced last night (29 June) after long deliberations within... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2011 at Research Blogs
Welcome to Research Europe's Framework and the Innovation Union live blog from The International Auditorium in Brussels. Our third session today is Making Framework Work. Our speakers are Piotr Swiatek, FP7 National Contact Point at Research Centre Juelich in Germany, Ladislav Balko from the European Court of Auditors, and Bruno van Pottelsberghe, a professor of Technical Innovation at Solvay University Brussels. Please read from the bottom up. 17.27 Session is drawing to a close. It has been a great first event for us, and hopefully there will be many more. Thanks for following, everyone, if you want to know more, check out the next issue of Research Europe and www.researchresearch.com over the next days. Signing off ... 17.23 Van Pottelseberghe respons to audience question, saying he is not criticising DG Research, but thinks it should focus more on research in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2011 at Research Blogs
Competitiveness ministers today discussed the 'enhanced cooperation' on a European-wide patent. The patent idea has been at the centre of a political war between Europe's industry representatives and politicians for the past 50 years. The enhanced cooperation has brought it closer than ever to reality. But just this week the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided there could be conflicts with international patent jurisdiction. Europe's governments gathered in Brussels today to debate how the patent can be moved forward, and our Brussels correspondent Tania Rabesandratana was live at the scene. This is her live post from the proceedings. Webcast live HERE 11.30 At Council in Brussels, waiting for public debate on unitary patent. Place is buzzing today, most journos here for foreign affairs meeting. 11.50 Public debate starting very late; five journos following in Council press room. 11.55 Michel Barnier,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2011 at Research Blogs
Europe is just a few, short steps away from a system in which scientists, companies and lone inventors will be eligible to apply for a single patent that is applicable in all subscribing countries. After nearly half a century, 25 member states have joined an “enhanced cooperation” agreement on the patent’s official languages. This is expected to be adopted by the Council of Ministers on 10 March, paving the way for legislation in the European Parliament as early as May. Applicants under the proposed new patenting scheme will be able to file patents in just one language—English, French or German—to a central patenting authority and patent court, which will assess applications and carry out the necessary checks. If accepted, the patent will be enforced across most of the EU. The only institution that could still cause delays is the European... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Research Blogs
The defence minister of Germany has been accused of plagiarism. Several newspapers say he copied parts of his PhD thesis from their archives. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says the introduction to Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s thesis on constitutional reform in the United States and Europe is an almost word-for-word match with a story the paper published in 1997. An investigation by the Sueddeutsche, which broke the news on Wednesday, has since uncovered several other allegations of plagiarism, some concerning newspaper stories, others scientific texts and books. Zu Guttenberg, a conservative politician who became defence minister under Angela Merkel in 2009, submitted his PhD thesis to the University of Bayreuth in 2006. He received a PhD with summa cum laude, the best possible mark under the German doctoral education system. But this week Andreas Fischer-Lescano, a Bremen-based law professor, came across several... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2011 at Research Blogs
The European Union’s research commissioner has criticised British science and education spending cuts, saying they jeopardise future growth in the United Kingdom. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the research commissioner, told an audience at the Royal Society this week that it was essential to maintain investment in R&D and innovation to overcome the financial crisis. Geoghegan-Quinn met science minister David Willets and John Beddington, the chief scientific adviser, to warn them about the effects of research spending cuts. She told UK policymakers how Germany is planning to increase science and education spending by 12 billion euros over the next three years. Despite suffering an economic turndown, Germany is on track to meet its goal of spending 3 per cent of GDP on science and innovation by 2013. “So, [Germany’s] economic success is not an accident. It is the result of deliberate policy,” said... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2011 at Research Blogs
The European Commission has rejected the Council of Ministers’ suggestion that the spiralling costs at Iter, the international fusion research project based in France, should be paid out of the existing EU budget, according to internal documents seen by Research Europe.“The approach outlined by the Council would not resolve the long-term financing problems of Iter, and would not secure the viability of the project,” reads a statement from the Commission attached to the Council’s conclusions. “Therefore the Commission reserves its position concerning the approval of the project baseline as well as its right to make more appropriate proposals to the budgetary authority.” On 5 May, the Commission asked member states to provide more money to cover rising costs at Iter. But on 12 July, member states decided that the extra 1.4 billion euros needed for Europe’s contribution to Iter should... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2010 at Research Blogs
More than 400 million euros will have to be diverted from Framework 7 to cover the rising costs of Iter, the international fusion research project, a Commission proposal states. Finding the money for Iter means that 100m euros will be taken from Framework 7 in 2012, and another 360m euros in 2013, the Commission says. The proposal is an attempt to smooth things over with member states, which are refusing to front the cash needed to keep Iter going. The European contribution to the project is expected to more than double: from 2.7 billion euros agreed in 2006 to around 7bn euros by 2013. During a Council meeting on 12 July the member states said they would not provide the extra money, and that it should come from the existing EU budget, primarily Framework 7. Europe needs to find an... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2010 at Research Blogs
Europe's new member states do not have it easy. 20 years after their liberation from Soviet rule and 8 years after their ascension to Europe they still underperform in research. For every two Framework 7 grants going to the core EU15 states, only one goes to Eastern Europe. Fraud and mismanagement affect international collaborations, with Eastern European countries topping the list of reprimands by the European Court of Auditors. And 80 per cent of funding from the European Research Council stays in the "old member states" as researchers from the East prefer to work in Germany and France, the traditional lighthouses of European science. If you ask researchers from Eastern Europe, the general mood is that these problems are down to a lack of EU funding. The predominant opinion is that Europe should give its eastern members more money, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2010 at Research Blogs
GM food, climate change, nanotechnology, evolution. Scientists, naturally, are supportive of research, even though they might be in two minds over the actual subject, or question its outcomes. But often the public does not see it that way. With issues like embyonic stem cell research it is possible to see where the anger come from. Men in lab coats experimenting on unborn babies? A horrible vision. But what about climate change and evolution? Surely these topics should not create as much controversy as they do? Why does the average Joe on the street not understand that the scientific evidence for both is overwhelming? At th Euroscience Open Forum in Turin researchers are trying to find some answers to these questions. Nearly two hundred scientists flocked to a talk by Alan Leshner, the president of the American Associatin of Science, to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2010 at Research Blogs
The Euroscience Open Forum, now in its fourth year, was conceived to offer European scientists, journalists and policymakers an opportunity to discuss burning issues, similar to the annual event of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But so far ESOF fails to live up to the standards set by its American counterpart. As is often the case with events that carry a ‘European’ billing, ESOF is an attractive showcase for the host country -- Italy. But where are Europe’s scientific movers and shakers? The 2 July inauguration ceremony filled the largest lecture theatre at Turin's Lingotto conference centre to the max, with people standing in doorways and sitting on stairs to listen. The panel, however, was a national affair. The city of Turin lined up its mayor, provincial councillor and one of its most successful business leaders. Together... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2010 at Research Blogs
Benoît Battistelli, director general of the French National Institute of Industrial Property, has been elected president of the European Patent Office. The French civil servant achieved a required three-quarters majority on 1 March, in the EPO’s fourth attempt to elect a successor for Alison Brimelow, who is to leave the organisation in July. Three previous attempts in October, December and February failed to produce a majority for one of the three candidates. The election process kept European researchers and IP consultants on their toes as the EPO stoically refused to change its election process even though it became clear after the second attempt that no candidate achieved clear majority. The required three-quarter threshold, high by any election standard, was out of reach for the prospective presidents. The EPO could have greatly sped up the process by simply dropping the candidate... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2010 at Research Blogs
Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the prospective research commissioner, made a strong case for her nomination in front of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee today. The question session, which will form the base of the committee’s recommendation for or against her nomination to Parliament, lasted three hours and included questions from every political group represented in the committee. Geoghegan-Quinn started off a little nervous, and got caught in jargon and phrases during her first answers. But she quickly found her footing and highlighted her plan to fill her term at the European Commission with action, changes and improvements. Her past experience at the European Court of Auditors played into many of the answers she gave to the committee. Geoghegan-Quinn underlined that simpler rules for finance and administration in Framework 7 projects would improve industry participation, make research more effective and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2010 at Research Blogs
First gaps have started to show in Maire Geoghegan-Quinn’s plans for her term at the European Commission’s research directorate general. Ireland’s Commission candidate, who is being questioned by the industry, research and energy committee on her suitability for the job, had little to say on the issues surrounding intellectual property in Europe. When asked about how she would ensure that IP rights and processes in Europe will be improved, Geoghegan-Quinn remained vague. Members of the European Parliament asked her about common IP problems: patenting in Europe takes too long for industry to be interested, costs of patenting are up to 20 times higher than in the United States, and negotiations on creating a common patent for Europe and a European Patenting Court are in deadlock. Geoghegan-Quinn said again and again that Europe needed to take the “final step” in the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2010 at Research Blogs
Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Ireland’s commission candidate and the proposed future research commissioner, is facing questions from parliament. The hearing has so far shown that Geoghegan-Quinn’s ten year stint at the European Court of Auditors has left its marks on her visions for research policy. The simplification of rules for research funding from the Commission is Geoghegan-Quinn’s solution for many problems surrounding the research directorate general and Framework 7. The simplification of financial and administrative regulation of framework funding will get more small business in board, according to Geoghegan-Quinn’s proposals. She insisted that the low participation rate of businesses in EU-funded research can be improved by making participation more attractive through simpler rules. Improved financial regulations would also speed up funding, so businesses get the promised money quicker. Better regulation would also make the auditing process for framework projects simpler, thus freeing... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2010 at Research Blogs
The European Parliament’s hearings of the proposed candidates for the incoming Commission are well under way, and Janez Potocnik, the former research commissioner, faced a grilling from MEPs today. Potocnik, who has been proposed to head the environment portfolio in the next European Commission, had to face three hours of tough questioning from members of the environment committee of the European Parliament. The hearing, after which the committee will send a recommendation to other MEPs based on Potocnik’s performance, is crucial to his ascension to the environment directorate general, a post he takes great personal interest in. MEPs questioned Potocnik about his attitude towards the environment, his vision for the portfolio’s future and what strategies and actions he plans to introduce. Potocnik’s passion and interest in the environment was praised by some MEPs, as well as his proposals to keep... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2010 at Research Blogs
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Dec 1, 2009