Dioscuri: a Polish-German recipe for scientific excellence


czwartek, 29 czerwca 2017

Ten Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence will be established at Polish research institutions as a result of signing a framework agreement between the National Science Centre (NCN) and the Max Planck Society (MPG). The official signing will take place on 4th July at the Wawel Castle in Krakow.

Dioscuri is an initiative by the Max Planck Society, Germany’s independent research institution, intended to establish Centres of Scientific Excellence in Central and Eastern Europe. The Centres will enable outstanding researchers to carry out research on world’s top level. The signing of the agreement between the MPG and the NCN on 4th July will inaugurate the programme.

The plan provides for ten Dioscuri Centres to be established in Poland, with existing organisations acting as their host institutions. Each newly established Centre will cooperate with a German Mentor Institution, and its funding will be provided by the NCN from the resources contributed by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The founding of the Centres was announced in April at Hannover Messe by the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin. He stressed that Poland and Germany, under the patronage of the highly prestigious name of Max Planck Institutes, would jointly finance international research teams.

Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence offer an opportunity to bring to Poland outstanding leader researchers, who will set up their research teams here. Selection of these leaders will follow a rigorous competition procedure, with international experts as referees, under the auspices of the renowned Max Planck Society. The same body of referees will later evaluate the progress of the teams’ work, said professor Marta Miączyńska, a member of the Council of the National Science Centre involved in the programme’s launch.

The Centres will be established by outstanding scholars, selected in a series of international calls. The researchers and their respective scientific institutions will be able to compete for the opportunity in October 2017. The call will be concluded in 2018. In the pilot edition there will be up to three winners, thus to form first three Centres.

The Dioscuri programme is an excellent opportunity for Polish research units to set up new teams at a truly world class level. I hope that our universities and research institutes will not fail to take it, and they will do everything they can to secure the best conditions for these largely international teams. The NCN will systematically monitor whether this actually is the case, when the programme will have started, said professor Zbigniew Błocki, Director of the NCN.

The Max Planck Society is no doubt one of the most recognisable and robust research organisations in Europe, added professor Janusz Janeczek, the Chair of the Council of the NCN. The MPG coordinates the work of several dozen research institutes in Germany and overseas. It is therefore a chance for us – both at the NCN, but also for the Polish research community as a whole – to draw on the experience and contacts of a partner who sets the standards in today’s science.

In the event of successful application under the Dioscuri opportunity, the research institution acting as host to the planned Centre will receive annually the equivalent of € 300,000 to spend exclusively on the Centre’s operations. As a deliberate measure, the remuneration for the Centre’s investigator is supposed to be at an internationally competitive level. A project’s leader will be paid € 100,000 a year. The funding period is 5 years, and may be extended by further 5 years (on condition that it passes assessment and there is funding available).

I am positive that the activity of the Dioscuri Centres will yield us important discoveries and will help us propagate Polish research achievement around the world. It’s also another chance to reinforce Polish-German ties in research, for nowadays science requires intensive international cooperation. I am also hoping that the Dioscuri Centres will influence their immediate surroundings at Polish research units, promoting high standards and scientific excellence, concluded professor Miączyńska.

The official signing of the agreement between the National Science Centre and the Max Planck Society will take place on 4th July at the Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow. The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education will be represented by its head, minister Jarosław Gowin. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research will be represented by the secretary of state, Cornelia Quennet-Thielen. On behalf of the NCN, the agreement will be signed by the Centre’s director, professor Zbigniew Błocki, and professor Martin Stratmann, the president of the MPG will sign the document for his institution. Also present will be the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Krakow, dr Michael Groß.