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NEWSWIRE 41 WINTER 2015 N° 36 will shape China’s urbanization in the coming decades and design models for sustainable urbanization. As Gipouloux puts it, “it is quite simply the first-ever large-scale European collaboration program with China in social sciences and the humanities. This is certainly a badge of excellence for our laboratory.” Arezki Boudaoud, from the RDP2 and Joliot- Curie3 laboratories in Lyon, received a European Research Council (ERC) grant for the PhyMorph project, which studies the process whereby a living organism acquires its shape. For Boudaoud, “this type of European funding has several advantages: it offers the financial means to purchase sizeable equipment, but also makes it possible to tackle highly-specific research topics, since it supports single teams. Moreover, the project’s five-year timeframe provides a certain degree of stability and long-term vision of the work being carried out.” More applications needed Despite these numerous advantages, there is room for improvement in terms of French researchers’ applications to European programs. All disciplines combined, France ranks fifth in number of project submissions, behind Germany, the UK, Italy, and Spain. This performance is slightly down on previous years, as the funding obtained by French participants made up 13% of the total allocated by the EU for the FP6, compared to 11.6% for the FP7. These figures should also be weighed against France’s contribution to the EU budget, which was of 16.4% over the 2007-2013 period. Hahne believes that this relative lack of interest stems from the fact that “with the exception of ERC grants, all other calls for proposals are theme-driven, often according to economic or industrial innovation objectives. Some find this limiting. Certain researchers also feel that the coordination of a large European project does not weigh much in the balance when it comes to career advancement.” Cédric Bosaro, head of the “Europe and contracts” service of the Mission for the Monitoring of and Relations with CNRS Regional Offices and Institutes (MPR),4 points out that “applications are often more complex and detailed than for other national sources of funding, especially for projects that involve a broad consortium of European partners.” Facilitating European projects Europe is now a non-negligible source of research funding, representing 18.3% of the CNRS-generated resources and 2.34% of its total funding in 2013. For this reason, French scientists can now rely on a special task force set up by the CNRS to help them through the intricacies of European projects. Under the joint authority of the CNRS Resources Office (DGDR) for administrative matters and the European Research and International Cooperation Department (DERCI) for scientific issues, the task force notably takes the “European projects offer great networking potential and provide significant international visibility.” form of a partnership and technology transfer service (SPV)5 in each regional office. Its role is to “help researchers set up projects, draft contracts, and ensure they are properly monitored throughout a program,” says Bosaro. “Provided we can give guarantees to funding bodies that our projects are carefully managed, the scientists can concentrate on their work, knowing that their funding is secured and that they will get assistance with administrative procedures.” In addition, the pool of European Project Engineers (IPE)6 has recently been enlarged to offer more specific and personalized support for applicants in charge of collaborative projects, which are the most complex. Their watchword? The success of French researchers in H2020. ii http://ec.europa.eu www.urbachina.eu Shanghai is one of four Chinese cities studied by the UrbaChina program, dedicated to sustainable urbanization in China. © P. MILANI © F. GIPOULOUX/URBACHINA


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