Catching a Ride on the Road to World Class Excellence
The German Excellence Initiative draws attention all over Europe with other countries eager to follow a similar example of setting clear priorities in research funding and investing in "world class excellence" (WCE). This „road to excellence“ occurs quite often, but different routes are taken depending on the national contexts and objectives. Through the country examples, it became clear that many MS use the label “excellence,” but the ideas, specifications and instruments behind it are rather different: in Spain, it is focused on campus beautification and infrastructural improvement; in Denmark, their programme sets a clear and limited timeframe of 5 years of investment; still others, such as the Netherlands with their Veni Vidi Vici career grants, support “heads” rather than structures or institutions.
These are part of the results of the CREST Peer Learning Activity on “World Class Excellence”, which was held in Lisbon, Portugal from 2-4 May 2010. CREST, the European Union committee for scientific and technical research, is an advisory body assisting the European Commission and the Council of the European Union on research issues. In the context of the “open method of coordination”, representatives from governments and higher education institutions of eight different countries came to Lisbon for an exchange of experience and information. This exchange was continued at the end of May in Tartu (Estonia) where seven Member States discussed strategies on how to promote “capacity building”. The brain circulation strategy, where a certain degree of structured or non-structured sending of researchers abroad is included, was regarded as a desirable development.
Both workshops are part of a series of five workshops in European countries. Reports of the workshops will be published in autumn of 2010. CHE, in coordination with the European Commission, took on moderating and rapporteuring roles.