NSF encourages research centre partnerships between Europe and the USA

June 21, 2002

Brussels, 20 June 2002

The US National science foundation (NSF) is encouraging US research centres to find European partners for collaboration by offering additional funding to US research centres which locate suitable European partners, the head of the NSF Europe office, David Schindel, disclosed on 19 June.

At a discussion lunch with representatives from the informal group of R&D (research and development) liaison offices in Brussels, as well as representatives from the European Commission, Dr Schindel explained that the call for proposals will be predominantly aimed at US research centres which already have grants. These centres will be invited to apply for top up grants enabling researchers to travel to workshops investigating possible partnerships in Europe. Post docs and graduate students must be included in the delegation, and the meetings must take place in Europe, the NSF stipulates.

The NSF adopted this approach believing that its collaboration 'will be beneficial because of the quality of the research that takes place in Europe,' Dr Schindel told CORDIS News. The NSF is particularly impressed with the 'new tradition of mobility,' he added.

Asked by CORDIS News whether this is a change in policy by the NSF, Dr Schindel replied that there has been a 'realisation over the last five years that we have neglected international activities. Globalisation has accelerated and we want to create a globally capable workforce,' he said.

Dr Schindel spoke of a decline in the numbers of US researchers working in Europe. This can be explained by two factors, he said: 'a belief [among some] that most of the best science is done in the United States, a belief borne of arrogance [...] or a belief that it's worthwhile, but too expensive in terms of time.' Many researchers see a period abroad as a delay in their career, said Dr Schindel. US researchers, like their European counterparts, also face the fear of a re-entry problem, he added.

The NSF is already supporting around 250 research centres, including science and technology centres, engineering research centres, information technology research centres and 25 plant genome virtual centres. Centres are selected following the submission of proposals, in which proposers should outline an intellectual theme and approaches. 'It must be more than an aggregate of projects, otherwise the proposal will fail as they haven't proposed anything that is greater than the sum of the parts,' said Dr Schindel.

The next step for the NSF is larger scale collaboration on an international scale. 'The NSF no longer wants to present international cooperation as a zero sum game [where only one party can benefit],' said Dr Schindel. He has therefore collated a list of European research centres, and is circulating the information in US centres. Dr Schindel conceded that by creating such a document he is facilitating further European integration, and finished by saying that this was his contribution to the ERA (European research centre)!

For further information on the NSF's activities in Europe, please consult the following web address: http://www.nsf.gov/home/int/europe/inde x.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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