Recent Developments at European Science Foundation
After 40 years of success in stimulating European research through its networking and coordination activities, ESF is undergoing a major change of focus. It is changing to concentrate on activities designed to support and sustain the funding and conduct of scientific research across Europe. This is a natural evolution of its traditional role, since the aim remains to promote scientific developments through collaborative actions, but with the emphasis shifting to helping research funding organisations carry out their decision making processes.
2015 is the final year of winding down the traditional networking activities of ESF (EUROCORES, European Collaborative Research Projects, Exploratory Workshops, Research Networking Programmes); policy activities have already been transferred to Science Europe. ESF continues to host 5 Expert Boards and Committees that provide in-depth and focused scientific expertise in selected disciplines.
At the end of the year, a number of Member Organisations will leave the association. At the same time, it is to be expected that some new members will join and some current members will remain with the association. We are working towards a sustainable – but different - future, one that will not compete with the activities of Science Europe but that will be focused on providing services to the scientific community.
The brochure “Serving and Strengthening Science” provides an overview of the scope and activities built on core strengths developed in peer review, evaluation and project management services.
With its streamlined processes and pool of highly regarded and experienced reviewers, ESF provides scientific peer review support to institutes, establishments and organisations implementing competitive calls. The nature and scope of its offering includes contributions from provision of expert reviews for specific competitive calls to full-scale call management, including planning, coordination of specialised peer review and research evaluation assignments. At the same time, it is developing its activities to become a high-quality international evaluation service provider, providing excellence in basic research, development and innovation. It aims to connect evaluation with strategy and process improvement - implementing lessons from evaluation in practice and helping to apply them.
A viability check will be performed in May-June 2015, which will consider the projected work and running costs versus projected income beyond 2015. Assuming that the outcome of the viability check is positive, we expect to welcome new members and to help advance the vision of generating a solid evidence-base to support the policy formulation work of clients and other associations in Europe.
The new ESF statute adopted by the Assembly on 27-28 November 2014 has incorporated a change in the type of organisations eligible for membership status and has introduced two types of membership – associate membership and full membership. Full members are required to pay an annual contribution and they take part in the management and administration of the organisation, with voting rights and related responsibilities. Associate members undertake to contribute on an occasional basis to the organisation’s objectives and play an advisory and supportive role, recognising the value of these pan-European services.