Over the last couple of years I have been raising the issue of the increasing reliance on short term contracts in the case of project managers. Reading today the Research Europe article “Short-term posts feed academic insecurity“, I was happy to see that the issue is raised again, this time for researchers! In this way, hopefully, Member States and the EU will improve their policies that are currently resulting in brain drain to other sectors and reduced levels of productivity, as Nobel prize winner Peter Higgs said this week.
Check out my blog post: Building the European Research Area: Joint calls on the eve of Horizon2020
on the 18th and 19th of September 2013, I attended the Implementing Joint Calls training workshop organised by ERALEARN.
At this workshop I made three observations. I wrote about them in the recent blog post of the ideas on europe blog.
Horizon, the EU research and innovation magazine
linked to the @innovationunion twitter feed
I read today the following tweet
Provisional agreement themes KIC: 2014: Raw Materials & Healthy Living; 2016: FOOD & Added Value Manufacturing; 2018: Urban Mobility.#H2020
— Linze Rijswijk (@linzelive) June 26, 2013
and I wondered what are the KICs in the context of Horizon2020. Everything is explained on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) website:
Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) are the independent but operational part of the EIT, the part that puts the innovation web into practise. They are highly integrated, creative and excellence-driven partnerships that bring together the fields of education, technology, research, business and entrepreneurship, in order to produce new innovations and new innovation models that inspire others to emulate it. They are to become key drivers of sustainable economic growth and competitiveness across Europe through world-leading innovation. The KICs will be driving effective “translation” between partners in ideas, technology, culture, and business models, and will create new business for existing industry and for new endeavours. KICs are legally and financially structured entities of internationally distributed but thematically convergent partners. The relationship between the KICs and the EIT in Budapest is organised on a contractual basis, leaving a great degree of autonomy to the KICs to define their own legal status, internal organisation and working methods.
- Climate KIC (Climate Change)
- EIT ICT Labs (Information and Communication Technologies)
- KIC InnoEnergy (Sustainable Energy)
And according to that tweet there will be three more in the context of Horizon2020.
The aim of “Integrating activities” is to provide a wider and more efficient access to, and use of, the research infrastructures existing in EU Member States, Associated Countries, and at international level when appropriate.
The consultation addressed stakeholders, i.e. operators of research infrastructures and user communities, in a bottom-up manner, in order to map possible future topics of Integrating Activities.
Research infrastructures are defined here as facilities, resources, systems and related services that are used by research communities to conduct top level research in their respective fields. This definition covers: major scientific equipment or sets of instruments, as well as knowledge-containing resources such as collections, archives and thematic data infrastructures, together with the associated human resources. Research infrastructures may be “single-sited”, “distributed”, or “virtual” (the service being provided electronically).
Results of the Consultation on possible topics for future activities for integrating and opening existing national research infrastructures are now published!
Last week a new colleague started working with us as project manager for a EU-funded research project and I took the opportunity to ask her how had she found this job. “Too complicated” she said. She is not alone: an extremely common problem for project managers working on EU-funded projects is that they don’t know what will happen to them when the project ends.
Most usually their contract ends. If one is lucky the scientist for whom one worked for will have succeeded in getting more funding from the EU in the form of a new project, in which case one most probably can continue working with the same community. Even if one has such luck, it is not necessarily possible for this person to continue working there: public organisations in the EU usually put restrictions on how many years someone can work for them on temporary contracts. In the French public sector it is 6 years for example. If you have reached this 6 year limit they either open a permanent position for you (in which case you become a civil servant) or you are out, no matter how good or bad you are at your job. And since it is very difficult to justify new positions, especially in the time of crisis, then most usually you have to go.
So the question is how do you find a new job if you love being an EU-funded project manager?
I searched extensively online and I found no appropriate solution. I still cannot believe that those hiring personnel to work on EU-funded projects are not obliged by the EC to advertise the position in a central place so that all Europeans can apply! I have been working for example for an ERANET project: there is nowhere I can find if there are any other ERANETs looking for a project manager! I have to look at hundreds of websites in order to find this information and in this search some inside knowledge is necessary to succeed in obtaining it.
In the context of a course on “Innovation in the Public Sector” for my MSc in Public Policy and Management I decided to focus on this very important issue. I came up with the idea of HorizonTap, whose full business model you can read/download below. I would like however to summarize some of the main points here:
JPI Climate ‘Climate change – connecting climate change knowledge for Europe’
JPI Water ‘Water – challenges for a changing world’
JPI ‘Cultural Heritage and global change: a new challenge for Europe’