First competition decided in International Research Agendas programme

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The Foundation for Polish Science has decided the first open competition in the International Research Agendas programme. The winning project was submitted by Prof. Tomasz Dietl and Prof. Tomasz Wojtowicz from the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. They will receive nearly PLN 40 million for pursuing innovative research at a new scientific institution in Poland.

The new research centre will be established in Warsaw and will be known as the International Centre for Interfacing Magnetism and Superconductivity with Topological Matter (MagTop). The director of the project and of the new institution is Prof. Tomasz Dietl from the Institute of Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences. At the centre, interdisciplinary research will be conducted on materials science, nanotechnology and the physics of semiconductors, as well as research on magnetism and superconductivity, which should lead to development of new topological materials. Research on these materials will be conducted by leading researchers from Poland and abroad selected in international competitions. During the first few years of funding of the project, there are to be 6 research teams operating at the centre, employing about 30 scientists. They will use the unique research infrastructure offered by the Polish partner in the project, the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The new institution will also cooperate with other research centres abroad and in Poland (including the University of Rzeszów), and firms such as VIGO System SA, Modern Technologies and Filtration SA, and Puremat Technologies. The quality of the research work and the competitions for research group leaders will be overseen by an international research committee made up of scientists of globally recognized accomplishment as well as entrepreneurs with experience conducting R&D work and implementing new technologies.

The institution created by professors Dietl and Wojtowicz will cooperate closely with the University of Würzburg, which will contribute knowhow in science administration, commercialization of research results, and finding research work for the best scientists.

The first research work is to begin by early 2017 at the latest. Until then, Dietl and Wojtowicz will organize the operation of the new institution and hire the first leaders of research teams. For now the new unit will operate on the basis of funds in the amount of PLN 40 million received from the Foundation for Polish Science from the Smart Growth Operational Programme. Ultimately, in order to maintain itself, the unit will need to attract the interest of businesses and raise additional grants, including EU grants.

The Foundation plans to fund the creation in Poland of a total of 10 institutions pursuing International Research Agendas.

The International Research Agendas programme has been implemented by the Foundation for Polish Science since November 2015 using funds from the Smart Growth Operational Programme. Its purpose is to create specialist, world-class research centres in Poland applying best practice in identification of research programmes and topics, HR policy, management of R&D work, and commercialization of R&D results. In the first open competition, 32 applications were considered. The winner was selected in a three-stage competition procedure including evaluation by a scientific/commercial panel, a written opinion from at least two foreign reviewers, and an interview with the applicants by an interdisciplinary, international panel of experts.

By the end of 2017 the Foundation plans to announce two more competitions for the International Research Agendas programme. The next recruitment will open in August 2016.

The International Research Agendas programme also represents Poland’s contribution to projects submitted in the Teaming for Excellence competition in the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme. Applications submitted to the Foundation by participants in the Teaming for Excellence programme must meet the same competition conditions as applications filed by other candidates. In the first IRA programme, the applications submitted by Prof. Janusz Bujnicki (“Advanced Biobased and Bioinspired Materials/ICRI-BioM”), Prof. Jan Misiewicz with Prof. Edward Chlebus (“Wrocław Centre of Excellence”) and Prof. Tomasz Woliński (“CEZAMAT-Environment”) were the fruits of the first stage of projects for Teaming for Excellence and passed through a three-phase evaluation in the IRA programme. Now they have received support from the Foundation under the terms of the IRA programme in the next phase of the Teaming for Excellence competition. Good luck to the applicants in Brussels!

For more information about the IRA programme, contact Kinga Słomińska, Head of the International Research Agendas Section, tel. +48 22 845 95 46, e-mail: kinga.slominska@fnp.org.pl.

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