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欧洲科学基金会(ESF)

时间:2011-05-05 21:51:32  来源:  作者:

http://www.esf.org/

The world is undergoing profound change, and so is the world of research. The notion “Grand Challenge” has become almost a cliché, but it describes the stark reality of global problems – climate change, lack of sustainable energy sources, economic and political instability, ageing populations, poverty, hunger and migration – that can only be addressed by evidence-based policies. And where does the evidence come from? It comes from research. And if the problems are global, then so, necessarily, is the research.

Ever larger consortia must now co-operate on a global scale. We have a European Research Area, the national research funding and performing organisations, the European Commission’s Framework Programmes, and for 36 years we have had the European Science Foundation, but we can no longer think in terms only of Europe. The problems we face need dedicated, international collaboration. We do not yet have this level of collaboration, because in Europe, about 85 per cent of public research investment goes only to national endeavours. Today’s researchers must be able to join large scale, collaborative, international projects, and the infrastructure that serves them must be accessible to all.

The nature of scientific research is changing because technology is changing. Take for example the Large Hadron Collider – the data are distributed all over the globe to every one of the thousands of physicists connected to CERN in Geneva. The space agencies, the genome research institutes and the telescope facilities distribute astonishing quantities of information to researchers far away: no longer do scientists necessarily have to travel long distances and use the laboratories on the premises. This concept of infrastructure as the hub for global research reinforces the idea of a widespread research community.

The changes in Europe are tremendous. The European Research Council has profoundly modified attitudes; the accent is now on young principal investigators, and on excellence and potential, rather than equality and juste retour. We have changes at the national level as well – politicians ask about the social and economic value of research, and its returns to the taxpayer. The universities are changing, enjoying greater autonomy, coupled with greater accountability.

The ESF itself is at the advent of the most significant change in its history. The Heads of European Research Councils, EUROHORCs, have developed, together with ESF, a joint vision on a competitive European Research Area and agreed on 10 actions to realise that vision. At the end of 2009, EUROHORCs invited ESF to discuss on how the two organisations could merge into a new one, which could deliver efficiently on their joint vision in a rapidly evolving environment. All these developments at the global level, in Europe, and in the ESF, while sparkling healthy friction, provide new opportunities.


Professor Marja Makarow, Chief Executive
 

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