Thu, 03/08/2012 - 16:51

Almost 470 million zloty (€ 114 million) has been awarded to Polish academics and researchers together with the selection of close on two thousand research projects for funding programmes – this is the balance of a year of National Science Centre activity  (NCN). This institution run by academics is celebrating its first anniversary.

The anniversary celebrations with the participation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education took place in Cracow on the 9th of March. Prof. Barbara Kudrycka participated in the plenary session of the NCN Council as well as during the press conference. In the afternoon there was also an anniversary event at the International Cultural Centre in Cracow.

The National Science Centre distributes funds derived from the central government budget for the financing of academic research through the means of funding programmes and schemes. Grants are available to almost every academic and researcher on the condition that the research to be conducted falls within the field of basic research. 

The Centre announced its first funding programmes on the 15th of March 2011. Over the course of the twelve months of its activities applications for funding have been invited on a quarterly basis with their subsequent appraisal and award.  

The organisation, within the course of a year, of a functioning institution to serve a significant part of Polish science has not been an easy undertaking. This being all the more the case given that together with the creation of an office and the formulation of procedures for its operations we have taken over the supervision of almost twelve thousand research projects previously served by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In  addition we have launched eleven new funding programmes. Thanks to the enormous work of a few score individuals and thousands of experts and reviewers we have managed in the first year of our activities to process almost fifteen thousand applications for research funding, distributing amongst academics almost five hundred million zloty. We have applied in this process the best global working practices for the evaluation and qualifying of submitted proposals.  Prof. Andrzej Jajszczyk, Director of the National Science Centre.

The NCN has six different types of funding schemes addressed to researchers from a wide spectrum of academic disciplines, who find themselves at various stages of their academic career. Funding possibilities may be found by individuals commencing their academic careers as well as established researchers. There is no age limit for applicants stipulated in any of the NCN grant programmes. 

The NCN has introduced new types of grant funding opportunities and new principles for research evaluation. Basing itself on the European Research Council’s (ERC) system of disciplinary domain panels, the transparent two-stage evaluation process for applications, the high quality and ethical requirements adopted by the Council in its selection of experts constitute the foundation upon which the NCN grant system is based. New types of funding programme directed to both young researchers as well as eminent authorities in their academic fields, in conjunction with funding opportunities addressed to a wide group of academics, constitute the coherent and comprehensive grant programme. The most important aim of the Council at present is the development and improvement of this system, conducted in permanent dialogue with academic circles. Prof. Michał Karoński, head of the National Science Centre Council.

A significant innovation in the NCN funding programmes is the fact that applications may be submitted not only by academics employed in entities entitled to funding support, but also by physical persons – independent academics and scientists with a good idea for a research possibility, who wish to independently secure money for the realisation of their projects. In previously existing research funding models there had been the need to obtain the support of a specific institution. Applications submitted for funding programmes announced by the NCN are evaluated on a two-stage principle. During the first stage, evaluation is conducted by Teams of Experts working in cooperation with the Centre. The second stage sees applications assessed by external reviewers representing the given area of specialism covered by the application or from a related field. The final decision on the financing or rejection of an application is taken by a Team of Experts during special meetings. The process of application evaluation, depending on the type of funding programme, lasts from four to six months.   

NCN in its first year of activities (March 2011 – March 2012)

  • Funding programmes launched: 11
  • Funding programmes finalised: 5
  • Amount of funds allocated: 647 million zloty
  • Number of funding programme applications processed: 14 917
  • Number of grants awarded: 1 929
  • Number of projects taken over from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education: 11 368
  • Number of projects served: 26 285
  • Funding utilised in 2011 for the financing of basic research: 99.5%