Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FP7 – European money for science and society

Following on from INFOBIOMED's European recognition, let me tell you what I have recently learned about European funding for science.

Last Monday I went to an informative session to find out about the possibilities of getting funding from the FP7 (short for 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) from the European Union (EU). For those of you who are not familiar with this, this is the EU's main instrument for funding research in Europe. It gives funding for things like improving training and career development of researchers, specific projects and ideas (projects must generally involve groups from different countries or have a European projection), or infrastructures.

The Framework Programmes are usually renewed every 3 years, but this one, the 7th, will run for longer: from 2007-2013. Another novelty of this year’s programme (well, it seems it started last year, but this year it’s more consolidated) is that there’s a specific funding for the area “Science and Society”. This is aimed at bridging the gap between science professionals and those without a formal science education and at promoting a taste for scientific culture in the general public – just what I am trying to do here at the PRBB! This area alone counts with a budget of € 330 million for the seven years. (Actually, the general budget of the FP7 has increased significantly since FP6, from 4 to 7 billion €/year, which is good news!)

The next call for proposals, we have been told, is starting this same week, and we will have until next spring to present our ideas, which should be on one of the topics that will be open for proposals (not all topics are covered each year). Some of the initiatives that could be funded by the area of Science and Society, for example, include projects aimed at triggering the curiosity of young people for science and at reinforcing science education at all levels. Or they could be related to the role of women in science and how to improve gender issues. Oscar López Lorente, one of the Spanish national Contact Points for Science in Society, also explained to us that the encouragement of societal dialogue on research policy is another key issue, and that the FP7 wants to stimulate both the media and civil society organisations (including charities) to become more involved in research, debating and promoting shared values, equal opportunities and societal dialogue.

So, it seems there’s an opportunity for us all to work together making science a powerful tool for the improvement of our society. Anyone want to join? I’m ‘open for proposals’.

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