On 13 June, the Research Executive Agency celebrated its 10th anniversary - 10 years of highly successful autonomy that has seen the agency contribute to numerous Nobel Prizes, triple in size, and the budget it manages rise to €16.9 billion. Today it runs programmes for no less than six Commission DGs (RTD, EAC, CNECT, GROW, AGRI and HOME), ensuring that Europe’s most outstanding scientific minds get the support they need to reinforce innovation.
REA’s life-changing projects
From getting a ‘Science Bus’ on the road in the UK to discovering neutron stars colliding in the far reaches of a distant galaxy, REA has funded an extraordinary range of projects by implementing the FP7 and Horizon 2020 - the EU’s largest funding programmes for research and innovation. Here is a small selection of some of the most ground-breaking projects the agency has supported in the past 10 years.
GraWIToN was a flagship project for REA, and many of its fellows ultimately went on the help win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017. With €3.6 million in funding and lasting four years, the project allowed 11 MSCA fellows (PhD students) to receive training in the gravitational wave search field, leading them to go on to help track down the cosmic neighbourhood of two merging black holes as well as a pair of colliding neutron stars millions of light-years away. These events produced ripples in the curvature of space-time and the emission of gravitational waves, and thus confirmed Einstein’s hypothesis on the existence of these waves some 100 years earlier. It marked the beginning of a new era in how we understand the universe with gravitational wave astronomy.
WASTCArD project - Wrist and Arm Sensing Technologies for Cardiac Arrhythmias Detection - developed a new non-invasive device that patients wear on the wrist or arm. It is equipped with an ECG detection technique to look for cardiac arrhythmias over extended periods. Ultimately, it can reduce healthcare costs by ensuring prompt treatment, thereby reducing emergency care and hospital stays resulting from undiagnosed cardiac problems.
The project TIRAMISU – Toolbox Implementation for Removal of Anti-Personnel Mines – began in 2012, to provide a foundation for a global toolbox to cover the main mine action activities, from surveying large areas to disposing of explosive hazards. The twelve-country consortium involved achieved nine patents and received extensive media coverage for their innovative work.
The project ITN-DCH – The Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage - trained 20 fellows in the area of cultural heritage digital documentation, preservation and protection. The goal was to create a cost-effective system to document, conserve, protect and visualise all aspects of European cultural heritage to make it more comprehensive and accessible. UNESCO and other international organisations will soon adopt this new methodology for the digital documentation of archaeological sites and monuments. In 2018 the project won the ‘Best Innovation Award’ at the ‘Fair of European Innovators in Cultural Heritage’ event.
The project Do It Together With Science (DITO) focused on promoting active involvement in Citizen Science – to empower people to explore, measure and experiment with the world around them. In 2017, the DITO’s ‘Science Bus’ it travelled throughout Europe – from the UK to Croatia, Spain, Germany and many places in-between. It hosted workshops for children and anyone with curious minds to do experiments and build scientific instruments, such as making and testing DIY sunscreen and creating a phone charger with a bicycle dynamo.
19 June 2019