Brussels, 10 Oct 2003
A delegation from the US Department of Energy's Office of Science came to Brussels on 7 and 8 October to promote opportunities for US-EU collaboration in the benchmarking and evaluation of research activities.
CORDIS News met the head of the delegation, Bill Valdez, Director of planning and analysis at the Office of Science, to ask why he feels trans Atlantic cooperation in this area is necessary.
The first collaborative initiative proposed by the US aims at benchmarking international leadership in science and technology (S&T). By defining common data standards for the collection of information on patents, publications and other S&T indicators, and by agreeing on the methodologies with which such information is analysed, international leadership could be accurately determined and benchmarked.
'The US and the EU share many common interests and face certain common challenges when it comes to the evaluation of science and technology,' said Mr Valdez. 'Being able to accurately determine scientific leadership and strengths in these fields would be of mutual benefit.'
Being able to compare the US's performance with that of the EU or Japan would be of great value to all concerned, Mr Valdez added, as each of the three occupies leadership positions in different areas of science and technology.
A second opportunity for cooperation identified by the Office of Science focuses on the assessment of outcomes of research and development (R&D) activities. Mr Valdez describes the effort to assess the societal and economic benefits of publicly funded R&D as 'one of the great evaluation challenges.'
Having already established an effective methodology to determine the quantitative value of technology programmes, the US is now hoping to apply the same methodology to trace the benefits of research from basic research to its ultimate uses in society.
Sandia National Laboratories' Gretchen Jordan works with the US Department of Energy on research assessment programmes, and she stressed the importance of international collaboration in this field: 'If you were to gather all the experts worldwide who specialise in R&D evaluation, you'd find it hard to fill a room.'
'With such a small global community of evaluators, it makes sense for them to cooperate,' Ms Jordan said, adding that she was keen to work with partners in the EU because it has strong network of research evaluators, and a tradition of cross border, collaborative assessment.
A key factor that will drive cooperation between the EU and US when assessing the societal impacts of research is the fact that the two partners share many societal goals and challenges. 'I would assume that the things we value in the US are the same as those valued by the EU: healthcare, environmental protection, national defence.'
During his trip to Brussels, Mr Valdez met with representatives from the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, and he told CORDIS News that the meetings had gone well and that he had seen evidence of common areas of interest. A spokesperson from the Commission said that the EU and US have an overall scientific cooperation agreement in place, and that the Commission welcomed opportunities for enhanced collaboration with its international partners.
For further information on EU-US cooperation, please consult the following web address: