The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - August 29, 2015
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Seeking excellence
Three Polish universities—in £ód¼, Warsaw and Wroc³aw—have been shortlisted for financial support from the European Union’s Teaming up for Excellence project under the bloc’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Each institution will receive funds from the European Commission to draw up a detailed business plan for setting up a center of excellence.

A total of 169 projects from 15 EU member states, including 19 from Poland, were submitted to a European Commission competition designed to select and support promising proposals for centers of excellence. The first stage of the competition aims to pick out the most innovative plans. Grants will be allocated to help flesh out these projects. The three Polish initiatives still need to pass through the second stage of the competition. They have a year to develop a detailed business plan. In the final stage of the competition, the highest rated projects will each receive from 15 million to 20 million euros.

The Teaming up for Excellence project seeks to reduce disparities in the quality of research conducted in different European countries.

One of the three Polish proposals that passed the first stage of the competition is an initiative to establish an International Center for Research on Innovative Bio-based Materials (ICRI-BioM), submitted by researchers from the £ód¼ University of Technology, together with scientists from the University of £ód¼, the Medical University of £ód¼, the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Center for Molecular and Macromolecular Studies in £ód¼, and German partners from the Max Planck Institutes in Mainz and Göttingen.

The universities involved in the project want to set up a center that will conduct high-quality basic and applied research. They also want it to play an important role in collaboration between academia and industry in Poland and worldwide. They say that ICRI-BioM would become a strategic center for interdisciplinary research with an impact on the economic development of the region and Poland.

According to Ewa Chojnacka, spokeswoman for the £ód¼ University of Technology, the center is an initiative by the university’s rector, Prof. Stanis³aw Bielecki. The plan to establish it has been supported by the scientific community and local government in £ód¼. According to Bielecki, the center will help the £ód¼ region secure a competitive position in science and contribute to the development of innovation in the region in the longer term.

“The ICRI-BioM project aims to consolidate research efforts and promote an interdisciplinary approach to the study of polymers and bio-based materials,” says Bielecki. In the first few years, the center will be supported by European Union funds. "Regional and national authorities will be directly involved in this process, which is of key importance," Bielecki adds. The idea to establish the ICRI-BioM center is supported by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the National Center for Research and Development (NCBR).

Another shortlisted Polish proposal is the CEZAMAT-Environment project submitted by the CEZAMAT company established by the Warsaw University of Technology. The CEZAMAT-Environment project involves innovative networks of chemical and biochemical sensors—"Self-Organizing Networks for Real-Time, Wireless Monitoring of the Natural Environment." The networks will make it possible to detect environmental hazards and monitor the state of natural resources, including forests, agricultural crops, and aquatic ecosystems.

The CEZAMAT-Environment project will include both basic and applied research. Under the plans, the center will tackle an interdisciplinary range of research topics. It will bring together top-class research teams from Poland and abroad in fields such as electronics, information technology, nanotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, micro-electro-mechanical systems, telecommunications, environmental engineering, physics, materials science and life sciences.

The main CEZAMAT-Environment laboratory will be located at the Center for Advanced Materials and Technology (CEZAMAT), a hi-tech interdisciplinary research facility under construction in Warsaw in a major project co-financed by Poland’s National Center for Research and Development using funds available under the European Union’s Innovative Economy Operational Program. Work to build the facility began in 2008 and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.

The third successful Polish project to have made it through the first stage of the European Commission competition is the Wroc³aw Center for Excellence, a joint idea by the Wroc³aw University of Technology—specifically its Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Fundamental Problems of Technology—and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute in Dresden and the University of Würzburg, Germany. The center would conduct research in areas including photonics and nanomaterials.
Karolina Olszewska