'New' Member States into research fold
Though still often referred to as 'New Member States', countries that joined the Union in the latest accession rounds are widely seen as equal partners in the European Research Area (ERA).
© Peter Gutierrez
The European Union cannot afford scientific illiteracy or underdevelopment in any region. Thus, one of the aims of the European Research Area has been to maximise creative potential across the entire continent.
The recent Transport Research Info Days in Brussels featured brokerage sessions where potential researchers from all corners of the EU presented themselves, their organisations and their ideas. The aim was to help team up researchers from the newest member states with those from longer-standing EU countries.
Kaspars Kalnins is lead researcher at the Riga Technical University 's Institute of Materials and Structures in Latvia. His organisation boasts state-of-the-art testing facilities that make it a useful partner in both aeronautics and surface transport research.
Kalnins' presentation did not go unnoticed. Without naming names, he says, "During the Info Day, I had promising discussions with a number of potential project coordinators. Moreover, I received two post-Info Day invitations based on the leaflet we circulated during the event."
Miroslav Jicha of Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic had a similar experience. "Yes," he says, "the event in Brussels, and specifically the brokerage session, was both interesting and useful. I can confirm that our participation has led to new contacts with potential collaborators."
© Riga Technical University
The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, where Jicha works, specialises in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and has carried out experiments in areas such as human thermal comfort, and car and aircraft cabin environment. It has already carried out work under a number of EU-funded research projects.
The challenge for any member state, when seeking EU funding, is to be competitive in terms of scientific quality. The expressions of interest received by researchers from the newest member states would seem to indicate a level of confidence among European researchers that science is up to snuff in all regions of Europe.