Run on science and engineering faculty grants, money almost gone after one year

The FSE Research Grants programme is so successful that the faculty board has used up almost all the available money. The board is now looking for creative ways to continue the programme.

The programme was launched a year ago. Faculty of Science and Engineering researchers who had submitted a research proposal that was marked ‘excellent’ by major research financiers but was still turned down could apply for a one-time grant from the faculty board. They’d get either 75,000 or 150,000 euros. The fund consisted of 5 million euros that was supposed to last four years.

Grant stress

It was the board’s way of doing something about the workload and grant stress that researchers have to deal with. No lots were drawn, therefore, nor were the proposals themselves scrutinised. Any proposal with an excellent score was entitled to funding.

‘In the past year, some twenty to twenty-five people applied for a research grant’, portfolio manager Esther Marije Klop said during last week’s faculty council meeting. ‘They all got one. People know the rules.’

However, that also means the board’s funds have nearly run out after just a year. ‘So we are thinking about a top-up,’ said dean Joost Frenken. ‘We use it to enable a lot of research that has already received a favourable review, but otherwise would not get off the ground.’

Starter grants

One way to do this is to use the money the ministry is making available this year in the form of so-called ‘starter grants’. These are funds that faculties can use to provide newly appointed researchers with a budget and at least one PhD student to get their research going.

‘However, we already arranged our funds in such a way that our researchers receive a starting budget’, Frenken said. ‘So I see this funding as extra money for our faculty that we can do something useful with, by spending it on research grants for example.’

New incentive grants, intended for mid-career researchers, could also be used. At least, said Frenken, if the grants are also open to associate professors. ‘But that’s all still a fantasy. Nothing has been decided yet.’



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