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October 12th, 2007

Europe's Nobel Week

Another problem is the lack of coordination. One EU official recently counted 29 different funding programs for nanotechnology across a 27-country bloc. It turns out grant administrators chase scientific fashions -- which makes for lots of duplicative grants. Among the national research programs of Europe, just 0.8% of the total funding is coordinated with neighboring countries. The upshot is that a Belgian scientist in, say, Leuven competes mainly for national funding against a rival in Ghent or Brussels. The competition would be a lot tougher -- and the science better -- if the contest also involved Cambridge or Stockholm, says André Oosterlinck, former rector of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium's top-ranked univeristy. The Commission took a small step in that direction this year with the launch of the European Research Council; "it's a good start, but not enough," Mr. Oosterlinck says.


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