EUROPEAN CO-OPERATION IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION: IS IT USEFUL? IS IT DIFFICULT?

Nina Kancewicz-Hoffman

previously with: Foundation for Polish Science ,
http://sunsite.icm.edu.pl/science/fnp

Director for International Co-operation, Head of Programme Implementation Unit for the SCI-TECH Phare Programme
http://www.fnp.org.pl/scitech

currently, the chancellor of Warsaw University representative for European collaboration programmes
e-mail: ninahoff@mercury.ci.uw.edu.pl

for the Foundation now, contact: Anna Halinska - e-mail: fnpbwe2@warman.com.pl

Abstract. The presentation will address the following issues:
  • why should Eastern and Central European (ECE) researchers be interested in participating in the European programmes
  • what can ECE researchers expect from European programmes
  • what are the main obstacles for ECE Countries participation
  • what simple steps can be made to overcome them.

The experiences from 5 years of co-operation with the European Commission in the field of R&D and higher education programmes will be presented and proposals for actions to be taken at different levels (individual research teams, universities, state administration) will be discussed.



INTRODUCTION

Poland as also other East Central European (ECE) countries has 6 years of experience in co-operation in higher education, science and technology with the European Union and other international organisations. When 6 years ago numerous opportunities to develop co-operation opened there was no institutional knowledge and no institutional mechanisms to deal with them. Today Polish researchers and academic teachers participate successfully in several types of international actions and programmes: EUREKA, COST, European Union programmes like: TEMPUS, PECO, COPERNICUS, INCO-COPERNICUS. There is certain level of knowledge and experience in the Polish research community accumulated by individuals and teams which pioneered in these activities. In last 6 years significant progress has been made thanks to opportunities to participate in assistance programmes like TEMPUS or PECO which are directed specifically to ECE researchers. However now when Poland is preparing to enter the European Union the next step should be made: preparation for participation in the EU RTD programmes as a Member State. This is an important element of Polish S&T policy in the pre-accession period. It requires, however, creation and development of specific mechanisms and institutional arrangements.
Following comments and observations result from my experiences with launching TEMPUS programme in Poland in 1990/1991 and from my present work with SCI-TECH Phare programme: Reform Programme for the Science and Technology Sector in Poland. (The overview of the SCI-TECH Programme - Annex 1).


Two objectives of this programme are relevant for the discussion:

strengthening Polish participation in the RTD programmes of the EU with a focus on Fourth and Fifth Framework Programmes
development of mechanisms promoting technological innovation and supporting technology transfer.

This presentation describes actions and projects undertaken within the SCI-TECH Phare Programme and aimed at achieving these objectives.





WHY SHOULD ECE RESEARCHERS BE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE EU HIGHER EDUCATION AND R&D PROGRAMMES

integrated effect - participation in large or complicated projects which no single country could undertake and which require international co-operation
access to research results and know-how of other members of a team
entering information networks on an international scale
development of co-operation with industry
access to funding source alternative to the state budget


WHAT SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED FROM CO-OPERATION WITH EU PROGRAMMES

(The following list is based on most commonly asked questions)
funding for ECE research teams during the pre-accession period in those programmes of the 4th Framework Programme which are not specifically designed for the ECE countries
approval of research projects which can be successfully conducted in one state (or even two states) and which are important only for this state
approval of basic research projects - even of high quality - which have no industrial relevance
lowered criteria or special conditions during the evaluation process in the Commission for projects from associated countries (in the pre-accession period) or new Member States


WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES FOR ECE COUNTRIES ON THE WAY TO EU HIGHER EDUCATION AND R&D PROGRAMMES


Information

lack of
general information on philosophy and basic mechanisms of the European Commission (EC) in the field of education and research
quick / on time information on specific programmes, application requirements and deadlines





Know-how

lack of know-how on
how to read information packages (euro-speak)
how to search for partners and how to negotiate partnership
how to prepare application
how to implement and manage complex international projects requesting a lot of planning and co-ordination



State S&T policy

need for
clearly set R&D priorities
information policy
funding and co-funding mechanisms



Funding

lack of funding
for preparation of proposals
for covering costs of participation in the EU approved projects in the pre-accession phase



Industrial links

difficulties with getting Polish industry interested and involved in R&D projects



Psychological attitudes:

natural animosity of researchers towards bureaucracy, formalities, documents etc.




WHAT SIMPLE STEPS CAN BE MADE TO OVERCOME THE OBSTACLES
Activities undertaken within the SCI-TECH Phare Programme in 1995-1996

1. Information action
7 regional seminars in main Polish academic centres; about 400 institutions invited (Polish Academy of Science institutes, university departments, industrial institutes), about 300 persons participated;
4 specialised seminars dedicated to specific scientific disciplines:
2 seminars covering chemistry, biochemistry and ecology
2 seminars covering informatics and telematics
Content of seminars:
information session - general information on RTD programmes of the EU, advise on how to search for partners, how to prepare applications and how to manage projects
consultancy sessions - assistance to advanced teams in preparation of applications to the 4th FP

Direct assistance to selected institutes in the development of their international strategy

in the framework of the International Cooperation project five institutes will be assisted in building their international strategy and developing contacts with potential partners in the EU countries
in the framework of the Restructuring Scheme for Institutes project six industrial institutes selected for assistance in restructuring are making their international strategy a part of their general development strategy


2. Information network
Assistance in creating a Polish Innovation Relay Centres network (Description of the network - Annex 2)


3. Information tools
Creation of a data base intended to provide access to information on Polish RTD activities to potential partners in the EU Member States and on actual Community's science market needs to Polish RTD units via the access to CORDIS.


4. Funding schemes
feasibility awards - small grants (2,000 or 5,000 ECU) for preparation of proposals to the EU RTD programmes (advertisement - Annex 3)

grants for co-funding of EU approved projects (up to ??% of costs of a project) awarded on a basis of an evaluation and selection procedure conducted by the State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN).


5. Innovation Promotion and Technology Transfer
The Foundation for Polish Science was assisted by the experts of Phare SCI-TECH Programme in developing a network of
technology transfer centers- INCOME programme (description of the INCOME programme - Annex 4) which supports technological innovations.

technological consultancy capacity of research institutes and Bussiness Support Centers is being developped in Technology Acquisition Scheme, a project aimed at promoting technological innovations in SME sector




The activities of the SCI-TECH Programme are aimed at:
individual researchers
research teams
research institutions
Researchers are given an opportunity to get informed and get trained. The attitudes, however, can be changed only through direct experiences, both positive and negative. The negative ones can and shall be used as a training session.



Most effective actions and projects of the SCI-TECH Programme will be continued and further developed in the SCI-TECH 2 Programme. The Programme is planned for years 1996-1999 with a budget of 35 MECU.



All these obstacles are aggravated by the fact that there are no institutions or mechanisms supporting researchers in this new situation and transferring experiences from the EU.
Since we are not talking about assistance programmes (like TEMPUS or INCO-COPERNICUS) there is no question of getting additional money for research from abroad. Now in the pre-accession period ECE researchers have to cover costs of their participation from national sources. Later once Poland and other ECE countries become members of the EU we will be paying our contribution to the EU budget. Then the question will be how skilled we are in getting back those money in grants for research projects. At that stage participation in the Framework Programme will also mean an end to the monopoly of the state funding institutions. Because R&D state funding for R&D will go through two channels: one through national institutions (in Poland through State Committee for Scientific Research, KBN) and another through Brussels mechanisms.


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