Science - February 24, 2005

Nine million euros for Inref

The research programme for development issues, Inref, has proved itself and will now receive nine million euros for the second phase, another six years. This means another fifty PhD research projects will be able to start.

Inref’s core activity consists of over fifty PhD research projects, within six programmes. Most of the PhD researchers are scientists from developing countries, who do part of their research in their own country and part in Wageningen. In addition, workshops are organised, and there is a starter capital fund for working out ideas. A characteristic of Inref research is that it is interdisciplinary; one of the conditions for funding is that graduate schools must submit joint proposals.

According to Professor Rudy Rabbinge, dean of the graduate schools and one of the initiators, Inref is a recipe for success and a shining example for other research. ‘Inref fits well in the trend towards globalisation of the research market. Wageningen UR is a multinational university. Through Inref we are building up alliances with research institutes in a number of countries including Brazil, China, India and Africa.’

The executive board shares Rabbinge’s opinion, evidenced by its decision use public money to fund a second six-year phase to the tune of nine million euros. The aim is to make Inref a ongoing programme that continues after 2011. In the long-term it will also be partly self-financing, expects Dr Bram Huijsman, director of the North-South Centre under which Inref falls. The university receives money for PhD researchers when they graduate. This money is topped up with money from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission.

The executive board has also approved the phasing of Inref: three programmes will start next year and three a year later. In the second phase there will be more emphasis on the usefulness of research results for development, according to Huijsman. ‘It must become clearer how results are going to be used.’ For this reason, in the second phase money will also be set aside for ‘follow-up’ issues, for example so research results can be further worked out for a conference or for policy advice. / JT

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