FSE will finance rejected research itself

The Faculty of Science and Engineering has decided to fund excellent research that was rejected for a grant by large financiers such as NWO and ERC itself. The faculty has budgeted five million euros for the next four years.

The programme, which is starting on Wednesday, February 9, is an attempt by the faculty to alleviate the stress that bringing in grants puts on especially tenure track employees. ‘The chances of getting a grant from NWO, ERC, or the EU have decrease to 10 or 15 percent’, says funding officer Mark Kas. ‘That’s stressful, because tenure track employees know they’ll be judged on their performance after a few years of work.’

The new programme is not a lottery, Kas emphasises. All assistant professors on a tenure track can request a grant worth 75,000 or 150,000 euros if their project has previously been rejected. The only conditions are that their applications for a Veni or ERC Starting grant were deemed ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ and that they need a budget of at least 150,000 euros. If they meet these conditions, they are guaranteed a grant.

Alleviate stress

They can apply for a grant once. They’re not allowed to leave for a different institution and take the grant with them.

Interestingly enough, the faculty doesn’t know exactly how many researchers will apply. ‘We don’t have an exact overview of that’, says Kas. ‘We’re just kind of guessing. The faculty board told us we can’t spend more than five million.’

If they reach that limit sooner than expected, they’ll ‘have to see how to accommodate that’, says Kas. ‘But we don’t want to create a situation like with the Groningen citizens applying for a grant due to earthquake damage. We want to alleviate stress, and if researcher feel like they might miss out, that’ll only add to their stress. And we absolutely don’t want that.’

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