News - March 27, 2012

More and more EU funds for Wageningen

Wageningen UR is clinching more and more EU projects, says Wageningen International. DLO and the university brought in 33 million euros worth of European research projects in 2010, against the 21.3 million euros in 2005 and 30.1 million euros in 2008.

Wageningen UR scored another feather in its cap last week within the EU's Seventh Framework Programme under the theme of 'agriculture, nutrition, fishery and biotechnology'. From the 28 projects submitted by Wageningen UR in which it is a coordinator, 14 have been selected. Such a 50-percent success rate is three times higher than the EU-average. In addition, the EU has approved 19 research projects in which Wageningen is a partner. In total, the projects will bring in 11 million euros for DLO in the coming years. The university will get 7.2 million euros worth of EU funding.
The European research market is very competitive: an average of one project is accepted out of every seven projects submitted. A small European panel judges the project proposals on their scientific excellence, management and impact. Proposals can score up to a maximum of 15 points. Within a topic, one or several proposals can be awarded the highest score. A bit of luck is also needed, says Peter Jongebloed of the International Help Desk which provides assistance to Wageningen applicants in the EU programme. There are projects with 14 points which are not selected because they lose out to an even better proposal in the same category, while others with a score of 12 are given the nod.
This year, Maria Barbosa at Food & Biobased Research (FBR) has been allocated the biggest project funding. Her proposal was rejected last year but she now receives 12 million euros from the EU to do research into algae. Only a portion of this amount will end up in Wageningen because Barbosa works together with many other research organizations and algae companies. A computerization project belonging to Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture and FBR gets 9 million euros; it will develop robots to package fruits and sandwiches. Besides these, successes this year under the theme of agriculture include ecology and social science projects from Wageningen.
Under the theme of 'agriculture and nutrition', the French research institute INRA usually scores better than Wageningen in recent yearsas a project coordinator . But the roles are reversed this year, says Jongebloed. Other European partners now want to work together with Wageningen because it is successful in the Framework programme, has a good network and relatively many links with the business sector. As is the case in the Netherlands, Brussels is also placing more and more importance on public-private sector cooperation.
It has become more difficult, though, to match European research money with one's own finances. The EU reimburses 75 percent of research costs, so the remaining 25 percent has to come from the partners themselves. But organizations in the Netherlands have smaller research budgets and are influenced by the research carried out in the major sectors. Therefore, it will become increasingly important to develop Dutch research themes along the lines of the European ones.