Tuesday, August 9, 2011

European Research Budget hits record high

The European Union's Research Budget has hit a record high including a major increase in funding for blue-skies research. The latest round of annual funding from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme will see overall spending increase by more than  9% to €7 billion. Funding for the European Research Council which finances "frontier" research will increase by 23% to €1.6 billion.
Funding for Marie Curie Fellowships which researchers can take anywhere in the EU, will also rise by 17% to €900 million. The number of fellowships will increase from 7,000 to 10,000. The allocation to Marie Curie Action, which oversees the fellowships, will include €20 million for a pilot project to fund European Industrial Doctorates, intended to stimulate entrepreneurship and cooperation between universities, research institutions and companies.
The European Commission has ambitious plans to boost research funding by 46% over the next framework programme which begins in 2014. The 2014-2020 package will be worth €80 billion.

Growth in third level education

Professor Patrick Cunningham, the chief science advisor to the Goverment addressed the IRCHSS and IRCSET Postdoctoral Symposium at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin in July, 2011. He spoke about  how, over thirty years ago,  the sector had responded to the need  to create a more educated workforce to attract foreign companies and investment to Ireland.
"Of the OECD countries as a whole, those entering the workforce with third-level education have been increasing at a half per cent per year. So over 30 years it has come up about 15%. In Ireland, it has come up at a 60% faster rate. We started thirty years ago well below the OECD avergage and now, we're well above it".
However,in the 1990s, it was realised that this was not enough and the Goverment promised to create 1,000 Ph.Ds. every year. 
He continued "We're probably about average now - we have six per 1,000 of our workforce with qualifications at Ph.D. level. Some countries have a great deal more and those that we compete best against are actually moving faster than we are. Nevertheless, if we look back over the last ten years, there is a lot to be content about. We had grownth in the celtic tiger years of about 7% a year in GDP- extraordinary by Western European Standards- but in fact the investment in R&D both business and public, has been increasing by 14% twice that rate".
In 2011 IRCHSS and IRCSET will grant €10 million in awards to Irish researchers. 

Google Funds Research Institute

Google is to open a research institute in Germany . It is to invest $6.3 million dollars in the partnership with Humboldt University in Berlin and several other German Research Institutes. The Institute for Internet and Society which is expected to open in October, 2011 will study issues relating to the world wide web and its impact on users as well as regulation and copyright.