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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Science in Europe in August, 08

In today's edition:
  1. A time for new ideas: Innovation in Central and Eastern Europe
  2. EU names new board for technology institute
  3. Commission to test free access to EU research
This is a very good one for all of you that are interested in science. Particularly the last news, which is absolutely stunningly good-all the articles published on FP7, from researches funded by European tax-payers money will be accessible for FREE 6-12 months after their publication. That's GOOOOOOOOOOD!

A time for new ideas: Innovation in Central and Eastern Europe

18 July 2008

Despite innovation being the backbone of economic resurgence in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), most of the investment has come from multinationals (MNCs), which will leave the region's economies vulnerable, argues Paul Lewis in a June 2008 report for the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report is based on an Economist survey of over 370 local and foreign executives in the region. The report, sponsored by Oracle, shows that "progress to date in promoting home-grown innovation has been slow and patchy," says Lewis.

He believes innovation is indispensable for sustainable economic growth and thus CEE countries cannot just copy foreign ideas and expect to grow.

MNC innovation does not help local companies as massive amounts of foreign direct investment have not fostered any spillover of technology or knowledge into local economies, claims Lewis.

The author observes that there has only been "modest" innovation in CEE over the last five years, calling for R&D spending to be increased and science education and IT infrastructure improved.

Nevertheless, Lewis notes that SMEs have innovated and exported successfully and should "provide a standard for others to follow". But "finding the right staff has been made harder by the persistence of a 'brain drain' from the region".

Lewis concludes by questioning intervention by public authorities to help business to innovate, claiming that local firms have become "ambivalent about the effectiveness of government reforms". The main sticking points are the lack of effective tax legislation, employee share ownership and fragile contacts with universities, he adds. source

My comment: Hm, I hate multinationals. And I know that there are all over the place (East Europe, at least), like Monsanto for example-it stays in the dark, pay people do stuff and will leave when the salaries eventually grow. What I can't seem to understand is why always people get focussed on the business part of the issue. Behind the word research there are researchers! HELLO! How come nobody thinks of promoting science and engeneering, of sponsoring scientists to do research or to attract young people to the field. That's so pathetic. Get the business ready, the scientist will come. Well, it's not exactly how it happens. To make a scientist take at least 5 years, for a phd, at least 8. Who's going to work at those SMEs, professors at the age of 60?

EU names new board for technology institute

Published: Thursday 31 July 2008

A new 18 member-strong governing board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), appointed yesterday (30 July), has until the end of 2009 to identify, select and launch the first EU "innovation hubs", expected to cover the fields of climate change, renewable energy and ICT.

The board members, appointed on 30 July, come from the three segments of the so-called "knowledge triangle" - the worlds of research, education and innovation, which are expected to put their brains together within the institute to solve the EU's innovation and competitiveness problems.

The appointment of the governing board follows a two-step public consultation procedure organised by an ad-hoc identification committeeexternal , which initially received some 130 proposals from different stakeholders. The final selection was done according to a specific selection criteriaexternal elaborated by the committee.

The criteria established that the members must be academic, scientific, or business leaders and innovators with outstanding forward-looking abilities and broad view and practical understanding of "overall European innovation goals and systems, global market trends and both academic and business environments".

Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who initially came up with the idea in February 2005, said he was "delighted" with the nomination and convinced that the excellence of the board's members would make the EIT a success.

The board's inaugural meeting in Budapest on 15 September 2008 will mark the official start to the agency's operations. Its first tasks will inlcude establishing the institution's overall strategy, leading to the selection and launch of the first two or three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) by the end of 2009.

After that, the board will be responsible for the coordination and evaluation of these virtual centres of scientific collaboration.

KICs will bring together departments of universities, companies and research institutes to form an integrated partnership to perform education and innovation activities in inter-disciplinary strategic areas, such as climate change, renewable energy and the next generation of information and communiation technologies (ICT).

The initial Governing Board's 18 members will be later joined by four additional representative members elected by and from among the higher education, research, innovation, technical and administrative staff, EIT students and the KICs. source

My comment: Ok, who are those distinguished members? I don't see names. I don't see projects. I don't see ANYTHING concrete. I so hate word-games.

Commission to test free access to EU research

21 August 2008

A pilot project that will give unrestricted online access to EU-funded research results was launched yesterday (20 August), which the Commission claims will ensure better exploitation of scientific studies and guarantee a "fair return" for taxpayers. But specialist publishers are unhappy with the move.

The open access pilot scheme would cover some 20% of the EU's €50 billion budget for its 7th Research Framework Programme from 2007-2013, mainly in the areas of health, energy, environment and ICT.

Peer-reviewed scientific journal articles resulting from such EU-funded research would have to be made fully accessible to everyone over the internet, free-of-charge, following an initial embargo period of six to twelve months.

The Commission explained the move by saying it wants to "get the best possible return on this investment". It believes open access can help boost research in Europe, helping researchers to maximise their impact by disseminating their results to the widest possible audience. It also hopes to trigger increased business interest for the development and commercialisation of practical applications based on the results of scientific research – an area where the EU still trails behind the US.

It further adds that open access policies for publicly-funded research are "a fair return for the public on research funded with taxpayers' money". But scientific publishers are unhappy with the move. The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) highlights the losses that could be incurred by specialist publishers, which play a huge role in supporting the research community in Europe and ensuring the integrity of scientific research.

"Peer-reviewed journals play an irreplaceable role in authenticating articles through registration, certification, dissemination and editorial improvement," notes STM CEO Micheal Mabe, adding: "For our member publishers, making access to research articles free at any point after – or even upon – publication presupposes a means of recovering revenues that allow the journal to exist."

The Commission nevertheless appears eager to go ahead with the scheme, saying it hopes the pilot project will serve as a possible model for broader application under the EU's next research programme as well as in member states.

The pilot scheme was initially foreseen in a February 2007 Commission Communication on 'Scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation' (EurActiv 16/02/07). source

My comment: YES, YES, YES!!! That's way to go, baby! The first VERY good news today. I can't believe the pulled that off. In case you guys are wondering why I'm so happy, it's because I hate those peer-reviewed magazines. They are living ON the back of scientists, exploiting them and returning VERY little. And then, when I do research and I see an important article, it's always PAID. And excuse me, how the f*ck I can pay 30euro for an article with my 180euros salary. Yep, on principle the University should provide me with acces, but practically, our university is ruled by humanitarians and doesn't give a damn about my research. And especially if we paid for those research with tax-payers money, hell, yes, we have the right to read those publications for free.

As for the idiotic publishers, all I can say is http://arxiv.org or http://lanl.org Um, are not those free sites? Aren't most of the article you so happiliy publish already published there? Get real! (P.S. I don't think that peer-reviewed magazins will die out because they actually don't offer you an article, but a reviewed article-like the best of-so people will always want to pay for that).

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