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Flagships of Polish Science
August 29, 2012   
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In a new program to support the most promising research institutions nationwide, the science ministry July 12 announced a list of six research centers eligible for extra government funding until 2017.

Each of these centers will have Leading National Research Center (KNOW) status and receive zl.50 million in extra funds from the government over the next five years.

Six institutions—each of them leading the way in its field, as Kudrycka put it—were granted KNOW status for the 2012-2017 period in the first round of the program. These are the Warsaw Center for Mathematical Sciences; the Warsaw Academic Chemical Consortium; the Marian Smoluchowski Cracow Scientific Consortium “Matter-Energy-Future;” the Consortium of the Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Medicum and the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Pharmacology; the Department of Pharmaceutics together with the Laboratory Medicine Section of the Medical University of Gdańsk; and the Innovative Research Center in Białystok.

Over the next five years, each institution will receive zl.10 million annually in extra funding for purposes such as strengthening their scientific and research capacity, improving the skills of their research staff, building a strong and identifiable brand, offering higher pay to scientists, and hiring researchers from abroad.

“I’m convinced the funds we have assigned to the KNOWs will make researchers’ lives easier, enable them to include international researchers in joint projects, employ leading experts and seek out promising young talent who will hopefully deliver ground-breaking research in the future,” Kudrycka said. She added that the quality of science in Poland is improving, as exemplified by the achievements of Polish physicists who recently contributed to the discovery of a particle known as the Higgs boson by a team of international researchers working as part of the Swiss-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Kudrycka noted that Polish researchers have also developed a method for the mass production for graphene, a revolutionary new material that could have myriad hi-tech applications and may even replace silicon in the electronic devices of the future.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, “We want Poland to be more competitive and innovative, and this idea is now being put into practice. It’s a very important moment for both Polish science and the government. We want Polish science to be creative, innovative and to change the world around us. We have more and more talented people, they are a rare commodity. They are the greatest gift we can give Poland and are worth any sum of money.”

The top research centers were selected by a board of 24 scientists, six from Poland and 18 from abroad. Selection criteria included the research potential of the centers and their staff, international publications and citation indices, ongoing research projects, patents, and collaboration with business.
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