Tools for development: ESET and research & technology

Reforms in the way research is funded and in the extent to which it is linked to technology and innovation in industry provide important tools for putting Greece on a growth path. In this presentation, Prof. Stamatis Krimigis, Chairman of the National Council of Research and Technology (ESET), stresses the need for non-partisan, coordinated effort, for generous growth in funds for research in Greece, and also for a change of attitude towards funding of research projects. All these are crucial if research is to contribute significantly to economic development, utilization of the ample research potential that Greece has, and containment of the massive outflow of the best young Greek researchers prompted by the deep recession and the crisis of Greek institutions. 

The eleven-member National Council (ESET) is the top consulting body in Greece dedicated to research issues and to their creative links to technology. The General Secretariat of Research and Technology (GSRT) provides administrative support to ESET, and the latter advises directly the Minister of Education, Continuing Education, and Religious Affairs, as well as the Committee of Ministers on Research-Technology-Innovation to be formed following introduction of the new law on research.

ESET, with the administrative help of GSRT and scientific input from high-level, international thematic councils, has recently completed the first phase of the funding program “Aristeia I” (“Excellence I”) to the tune of 62m Euro, and it has now issued a call of proposals for the second phase (60m Euro) that also includes special provisions for support of young researchers.

The proposals approved for funding in the first stage of the Program, Aristeia I, are expected to contribute to advances in knowledge that are significant by international standards. Funding limitations prevented the funding of all highly promising projects and researchers, at least in the first stage of Aristeia. ESET is looking forward to submission of new innovative proposals in the second stage, but also to the resubmission of improved proposals that could not be funded in the first stage. The call for proposals for Aristeia II is to be found here.

The next key project for future growth, already launched by ESET, is the preparation of a national framework plan for research, technology, and innovation (ESPEK), with 2014 to 2020 as the horizon. After completion of open consultation, ESET is currently in close contact and collaboration with the TES (sectoral scientific councils), aimed at identifying priorities in the sciences, social sciences, and art and humanities to be incorporated in ESPEK.

We publish here a presentation (in Greek) of the work and the philosophy of ESET written by its Chairman, Prof. Stamatis Krimigis. This presentation was made some time ago, in February 2012, to the Hellenic-American Medical Association, and we publish it in order to illustrate the effort in this potentially important area for future growth.

More detailed information on the activities of ESET can be found on its web site.

About M_Haliassos

Goethe University Frankfurt

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3 Responses to Tools for development: ESET and research & technology

  1. dear Professor Haliassos,
    I wonder if you are aware that a law that passed recently stipulates that to hire a researcher in a project funded by the European Commission, ESPA, or even by private sources (!), you will need:
    1. Έκδοση Υπουργικής Απόφασης (Decision by Minister)
    2. Βεβαίωση του Γενικού Γραμματέα του αρμόδιου Υπουργείου που χρηματοδοτεί το έργο ή εποπτεύει το Φορέα Υλοποίησης (Certificate by General Secretary)
    3. Βεβαίωση του Φορέα Υλοποίησης (Certificate by Organization involved)
    4. Σύνταξη προκήρυξης και αποστολή στο ΑΣΕΠ (tender and decision by ASEP).
    Not even Kafka (or maybe Stalin?) would contrive such a procedure. All attempts to prevent this from taking place, or fix it after it passed failed. I know that Prof. Krimigis’s committee knows about this. I know that Mr. Reichenbach’s task force knows. But so far nobody has done anything to fix it.
    Given this, I am afraid that all that you state in your text is largely ‘pie in the sky’, that is, irrelevant, even though the intentions are certainly good.
    R&D is one of the few ‘export’ industries in which Greece is doing decently well, in a highly competitive environment. It does this via the work of universities and research centers. And it is one which could provide a possible contribution towards alleviating the economic crisis. But provisions like these are the final nail in the coffin of R&D in Greece, with all the possible repercussions.
    And then we wonder why Greece does not have ANY hope to survive the economic crisis!
    Sincerely,
    Harilaos N. Psaraftis
    Professor
    Nat. Tech. Univ. of Athens

    • M_Haliassos says:

      Dear Professor Psaraftis,
      I know and I fully agree with you. A good indication of ESET’s thinking on similar issues is the fact that it has supported appointment of researchers directly by the Principal Investigators of projects rather than by the Ministry or other central authority. The key reason for this is that the interests of PIs are aligned with those of the research sponsors: to get valid research results.
      Rather than downgrading everything because of this development though, I would invite us to think of its cause: the massive lack of trust that dominates Greek society today. In my opinion, this is a bigger plague than inefficiency, corruption, or lack of fiscal discipline: it hampers all efforts to break with the past and put the country on a growth path. We should go step by step, keeping our eyes open for negative developments like the one you point out, but pushing for positive changes wherever we can bring them about.

      • Harilaos N. Psaraftis says:

        Thanks. I agree about the lack of trust. The alleged reason for this law is to avoid the ‘μονιμοποιησεις’ of people working on R&D projects, as it happened in the past. Not only the new law does not explicitly forbid such ‘μονιμοποιησεις’, but creates all sorts of serious problems to those who just want to do research. Αντι να καψουν τα ξερα, καινε τα χλωρα.
        There is also a (rather sinister) theory to explain all this. With the haircut associated with the PSI, universities and other public bodies suffered losses in their accounts. The theory goes that much of the reserves of R&D projects were lost. Of course nobody would dare say so but in fact nobody has explicitly denied it. If I believe I have (say) 200,000 euros left in my project and much of this money is lost because of the haircut, the new law may for all practical purposes prohibit me to spend it, because who knows when or if a Ministerial approval may take place. Right now everything is frozen until the elections and who knows when the system would resume.
        Granted, this theory borders on the paranoid, but that’s about the state of mind that many people are these days.
        Brgds, HNP

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