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Europe’s research system must change: Nature Vol 452|24 April 2008

Mike Ciavarella's picture

Dear Imechanica friend

 a recent Nature Commentary has generated a lot of interest, particularly in Europe. Maybe it is of interest, also in response to Grand Challenges for Engineering?

I suggest some lines: 

Europe’s research system must change, Luke Georghiou argues.  He suggests 
Europe should start the process of reformow. The Commission has a responsibility to
take the lead and planning of the Eighth Framework Programme, due to start in 2013, is already under way. The grand challenges will not wait until then and member states, businesses and the scientific community must each play their part. The first challenge is one of leadership.

He suggests essentially to have 4 or 5 grand challenges, of 3 - 10 billions Euro each.

"Europe will be a much more effective partner for the United States, Asia and others if it can speak with one voice, take the initiative and contribute a genuine critical mass to solutionsto global problems.

Luke Georghiou is in the Manchester Institute
of Innovation Research at Manchester Business
School, University of Manchester, Manchester,
M15 6PB, UK. He also chairs the European
Commission’s ERA Rationales Expert Group.
1. Mustar, P. & Esterle, L. Key Figures on Science and Technology
(Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques, Paris, 2006).
4. European Court of Auditors Evaluating the EU Research and
Technological Development (RTD) Framework Programmes
— could the Commission’s approach be improved? Special
Report No 9/2007.
6. Larédo, P. Sci. Pub. Pol. 30, 4–12 (2003).
7. Coombs, R. & Georghiou, L. Science 296, 471 (2002).
“Europe will be a much
more effective research
partner if it can speak
with one voice.”


Mike Ciavarella's picture

European research system must not go bananas

SIR — Luke Georghiou’s
Commentary may be applauded
by science policy-makers, but it
sent shivers down my spine as a
scientist. Curiosity-driven
research is under siege from
those who claim that they know
best how to “attain Europe’s
economic, social and
environmental goals”, and to
“engage research with the
problems that society recognizes
as central”. 



Andre Geim Centre for Mesoscience
and Nanotechnology, University of
Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester
M13 9PL, UK
Large projects can
create useful



SIR — Luke Georghiou urges
reforms to the European
Commission’s research system,
criticizing the present Framework
Programmes for their many
small and very loosely
connected projects.
The large integrated projects
of the Sixth Framework
Programme are a notable
exception. These include the
ALARM project, intended to
assess large-scale environmental
risks for biodiversity using
tested methods (www. This
encompasses 68 partner
organizations, with some
250 participants from 35
different countries.




Josef Settele, Joachim Spangenberg,
Ingolf Kühn UFZ, Helmholtz Centre
for Environmental Research,
Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, 06120
Halle, Germany
European research
needs a dash of


SIR — As Luke Georghiou urges,
‘Europe’s research system must
change’ — but most certainly not
in the direction he proposes. He
wants to strengthen strategic and
applied research within the EU
Framework Programme,
advocating direct political
influence on research into
“problems that society recognizes
as central” by creating even larger
directed research programmes
than we have now. But problems
can arise from ......


Theo Wallimann Institute of Cell
Biology, ETH Zurich, Hoenggerberg,
HPM D24.1, Schafmattstrasse 18,
8093 Zurich, Switzerland

michele ciavarella

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