3rd Annual Meeting of European Scientific Diasporas in North America
Several European countries were represented by Science Counselors or Diaspora members at the 3rd Annual meeting of European Scientific Diasporas in North America, which took place at the Embassy of France in Washington DC. Greece had a strong representation by Greek Diplomats, Euraxess Greece and HBA-USA.
One of the main topics of the meeting was the development of JEMI – the Joint Mentoring Initiative for European Researchers. JEMI’s basic principles were established on December 2016 at the Embassy of Slovakia from representatives of the European Scientific Diasporas of Austria, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Turkey, Ireland and of Euraxess North America. With the concept of mentoring in mind, the Diasporas defined initial short-term goals and evaluated previous achievements. The main weaknesses of the Mentoring Programs run by different Diasporas are that they are run by volunteers due to limited funds, thus they often lack sustainability and accountability. A Joint European Mentoring Initiative is more important than ever and should become the 5th pillar of Euraxess and be included into the next European Commission’s Framework Program for Research and Innovation.
Mrs Foteini Ziogou from Euraxess Greece and the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas presented the Greek Strategy for the European Research Area (National Roadmap, 2015-2020). She also presented the “Brain Drain” problem in Greece and measures to combat it; the recently established (2016) National Foundation for Research and Innovation (NFRI-ELIDEK) in the footsteps of the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the US, aims to address this challenge. The NFRI-ELIDEK, co-sponsored by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and national funds, aims to attract highly-qualified scientists in Greece. To this end, the NFRI-ELIDEK will allocate 290 million euros by 2019. Information about opportunities can be found at knowledgebridges.gr/scholarships.
Mr Theodosios Vallas, who is the Minister Counselor for Economic & Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of Greece, presented the R&D Funding and Expeditures in Greece, stressing that Greece has a long and successful record in the European and global scientific and research landscape. The main points of his talk are presented below:
“R&D expenditures for 2016 amounted to 1,733.1 million euros, an increase of 29.3 million euros compared to 2015. The ‘R&D Intensity’ indicator, which represents R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, was 0.99% for 2016 as opposed to 0.97% for 2015”.
“Public funding remained the main source of funding for 2016 at 737.1 million euros which represented 42.5% of the total. Public funding supported R&D activities in all sectors of R&D and was the main source of funding for higher education and the public sector”.
“The third source of funding, the European Union, has increased during recent years due to the implementation of Horizon 2020, the current EU Programming Framework for Research and Innovation. In 2016, the EU provided 207.6 million euros (12.0%) for research projects in all sectors highlighting the high level of competitiveness of Greek organisations. Five of the Top-50 research organizations that receive funding through the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020) are from Greece. The capacity of Greek research institutes to conduct excellent research is also reflected in the good performance in terms of outstanding scientific publications”.
“The key objective of the National Strategy for Research, Technological Development and Innovation (NSRTDI 2014-2020) and a long-term challenge in our country is ‘to set the knowledge triangle (Education – Research – Innovation) and the production and exploitation of knowledge as a major priority in order to overcome the current economic crisis, address societal challenges and contribute to the restructuring of the Greek economy”.
“At the national level, the NSRTDI 2014-2020 includes 8 areas of focus for investment in research and Innovation, identified through RIS3:
Greece has three University Business Incubators and 6 Science and Technology Parks:
Mr Vallas also stressed the importance of the Greek Diaspora, especially in science, technology, and innovation. The Diasporas remain a vastly untapped resource and programs should be developed to strengthen the ties with their homeland.
Elisavet Serti, President HBA-USA