Do we waste brain power in FP7-ICT Calls?

“Tonight I will invite my family to dinner” – This or something similar is probably what several hundred ICT researchers and managers thought when they left their offices yesterday. The reason is that the extended deadline of FP7-ICT Call 10 for project proposals ended yesterday at 17:00 Brussels time. Probably more than 1,000 proposals for RTD projects have been successfully submitted to the European Commission (meanwhile it turned out that it were actually more than 1700! proposals). Maybe 200 of them will be funded.

Has anybody ever thought about the amount of work, which such Calls are causing to the European research community?

If we assume very roughly an average of about 3 to 4 person months of work required for preparing a proper project-proposal, one Call can easily cause work for European ICT researchers and managers worth up to 300 person years.  Considering about 2 ICT Calls per year on average, we talk about 600 researchers and managers, who in theory do nothing than writing and submitting proposals. Practice is of course somewhat different; nearly nobody is doing this as a full time job. It gets distributed amongst many researchers and managers. And much of the work is being done besides the normal work. Nevertheless it is committing significant valuable ICT research resources in the European ICT community. Just try to get something not Call related from a colleague during the weeks before the Call deadline, and you will see what I mean.

Can we afford this? I don’t think we should, because the research resources in Europe are limited and it is allocating valuable resources which could better be used to do real research work. Do we have to afford this? No doubt we need a transparent and open methodology to decide about the funding of publicly funded projects. Nevertheless it is probably worth thinking about alternative ways to decide about European collaborative RTD projects without requiring such an amount of intellectual resources for proposal preparation. Examples do exist, such as two-stage proposal mechanisms, where in the first stage only short descriptions are required. Only in the second stage a full proposal needs to be worked out; but then chances are much higher to get the project proposal accepted if it promises a good project. I am sure that there are other possible mechanisms which could help in limiting the effort for proposal preparation. Let’s put more effort on trying to end the waste of scarce European brain power. We urgently need all available resources for working on the innovations of tomorrow.

This entry was posted in European Framework Projects and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *