"ERA Fellowships - Science Management": An eventful first campus week comes to an end

The campus week of the ERA Fellowships in Bonn ended on February 18, 2020. At an evening reception at the Zoological Research Museum Koenig , the fellows were once again able to exchange information on the extensive input of the campus week and network with actors from science and research funding institutions and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Gruppenbild während des Abendempfangs im Museum Koenig

European networking is an important success criterion for excellent research. This also applies to the management of scientific institutions. Science managers pave the way for collaborations between researchers across national borders. It is therefore important to strengthen their skills and networks. This was also underlined by Wilfried Kraus, Head of Department for European Cooperation in Education and Research at the BMBF, in his welcoming speech.

Germany is expanding its cooperation with the EU13 countries as part of its national strategy for the European Research Area (ERA). The "ERA Fellowships - Science Management" action forms one component of this strategy and brings science managers from the EU13 partner countries together with German science institutions, providing them with the opportunity to learn from each other and to strengthen the networks that advance the European Research Area. Well-trained science managers make an important contribution to the effectiveness of national research systems within Europe.

Stormy start to the Campus Week Bonn

Storm "Sabine" caused a literally stormy start to the Campus Week Bonn. Several fellows and speakers could not make it to Bonn in time but thanks to the flexibility of all participants and speakers, the programme could be adapted at short notice.

At a reception at the August-Macke-Haus on the first evening of the Campus Week, the participants got to know each other better and exchange expectations and experiences.

The first days were mainly devoted to research policy lectures, e.g., on how the ERA Fellowships action serves  the European Research Area and on the Internationalisation Strategy.

Group discussions and high-panel discussions complemented the Campus Week. Presentations of various funding programmes in Germany and Europe provided a good overview of the research and funding landscape and of the profile and requirements for the relatively new job of "Science Manager".

Another important theme of the Campus Week was the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and the presentation of the German system of National Contact Points (NCPs). Roundtables with different NCPs gave the participants the opportunity for questions and discussions. As an evaluation method, the so-called "brainwalk" provided food for thought and served the exchange of experiences on the application and evaluation process. This is a kind of brainstorming in which existing knowledge is collected and shared.

Requirements for a changing science system

Many large research institutions and universities have recognised the importance of science managers. A considerable part of a researcher's work is spent on familiarising themselves with various funding programmes and proposal writing. This time cannot be spent on actual research. An increasing number of institutions are establishing science managers to render the science system more efficient. Theirs is a demanding task that requires administrative skills and project management as well as interdisciplinary work to gain a sound overview of the research landscape. Exchange and teamwork between administration and research is important and makes their work very complex. This is why the Science Manager is the backbone of science.

ERA Fellows transfer knowledge to their home institutions

After an eventful Campus Week, many fellows are now starting their guest stay in Germany. During their guest stay, they may experience how common guidelines for cooperation, joint applications or scientific articles are written at their host instituion. The ERA Fellowship action enables the participants to share this knowledge with their home institution and colleagues, thus contributing to improving, e.g., know-how about the application process, the internationalisation of the institution or networking itself.

The feedback from the participants was very positive. Above all, the participants praised the many networking opportunities in Germany and in the European Research Area, the information on the application process and the diverse expertise and origins of the participants.

Outlook on the Campus Week Berlin

A second Campus Week is planned for early May 2020 in Berlin. It will again combine a political part with a  theoretical part of high practical relevance. Science communication, technology transfer and innovation are some of the subjects that will be presented and worked on. Once more, there will be plenty of opportunities for communication and networking.

Contribution to the European Research Area

With this action, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is making a national contribution to achieving the goals of the European Research Area, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. By investing in the knowledge of the participants, the action helps to reduce the fragmentation of European research.

The mutual exchange of experiences and the development of competences in science management render national research systems more efficient and effective. The framework conditions for research are improved as science management supports researchers in the selection of suitable funding instruments and in the application process. This mobilisation of knowledge strengthens the European research area and thus Europe's competitiveness.