Canadian research (and other ‘excellence’) initiatives get some competition from the European Research Council

Canadians have been throwing money at scientists for some years now (my May 20, 2010 posting about the Canada Excellence Research Chairs programme). We’ve attempted to recruit from around the world with our ‘research chairs’ and our ‘excellence research chairs’ and our Network Centres of Excellence (NCE) all serving as enticements.

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced that they will be trying to beat us at our own game at the AAAS 2012 annual meeting in Vancouver (this new ERC programme was launched in Boston, Massachusetts in January 2012). From the Agence France Presse Feb. 20, 2012 news item on physorg.com,

The European Research Council launched an international campaign Sunday to court the world’s top scientists to work in Europe with grants of up to 3.5 million euro (4.6 million dollars) over five years.

The goal of the program is to boost the number of non-European researchers to over 500. Currently, just 100 of its 2,600 grant recipients are from outside Europe, said council secretary general Donald Dingwell.

Dingwell, who after Canada plans to visit South Africa, several Asian countries, Latin America, Russia and Ukraine, the United States and Mexico, said the main condition is that recipients spend half their time in Europe and be affiliated with a European institution.

ERC’s Dec. 2011 newsletter features an article, Going global; Making Europe a prime location for the best brains, where they outline the campaign which actually started in 2007 but this latest initiative (Destination Europe) offers a renewed and more aggressive approach (and similarities to the Canadian efforts) to attracting more scientists to Europe. From the article,

The ERC Secretary General Donald Dingwell has been given a key role in this venture. Originally from Canada and with ample international experience, he will be the ERC’s Ambassador worldwide … The US is undoubtedly a hotspot for talent and thus for the ERC, but also the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and other top performers in science will be a priority in the years to come.

That’s a nice touch, having an expat Canadian lead your somewhat competitive initiative.

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