Thursday, 8 October 2009

ERC Success Irks National Funders

Dieter Imboden, head of Eurohorcs, the association of European research councils, has complained that the European Research Council (ERC) is encroaching on the turf of national funding agencies by winning the attentions of the best scientists and peer reviewers, according to ResearchResearch.
“We are competitors in the pool of good reviewers, for example,” he says. “The ERC has a great demand for good people for review panels and this has consequences that we feel. When we now ask people who have been on our reviewers’ list they often say ‘No, I am doing something for the ERC’.”
Imboden proposes a division of funding responsibilities between the ERC and national research councils. As in football, young talent should be fostered nationally by member states’ money, he said, suggesting that the ERC should scale back its successful starting grants. Established researchers could then move on to pan-European funding.
The ERC, inevitably, rejected any problems, or alternative set ups. Helga Nowotny, the ERC vice-president was quoted as saying “we fund excellence, and this cannot be pushed into any kind of niche.”

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