Saturday, August 13, 2005

Absorptive capacity

With today's dateline, one throbs with anticipation at the latest release from Cordis (the EU's research website) which announces that the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) has published its report and recommendations on the "financial perspectives" for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Imagine our disappointment when the report turns out to be dated last May – even if it has only just been published – but it is worth it for its utter, predictability. Guess what? An EU advisory board on EU research is arguing that "a doubling of the EU research budget is an absolute minimum target". Hold the front page, boys – that really is news.

The newly published report sets out arguments to support the Commission's proposals for the FP7 budget. It also defines the criteria that EURAB believes should be used "to select topics under the thematic priorities of the next framework programme."

As for the text, you could bottle the stuff and sell it… "…a key reason why the European research budget should be doubled is to allow the EU to meet its competitiveness targets. The redefined Lisbon vision to transform the European Union into 'the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world' [...] cannot be realised without a massive investment in European research, technology and development (RTD)."

But what caught our eye was this delicious phrasing: "EURAB believes that the absorptive capacity for increased EU funding is already in place, pointing to the high number of quality proposals received under the framework programme that aren't funded simply due to a lack of resources. These missed opportunities for Europe need to be decreased."

Loosely translated, what this amounts to is that there are already lots of people with their hands out for other people's money, so we must have lots more in order to give them it. But doncha just love how they put it: "absorptive capacity" indeed, and "missed opportunities… need to be decreased".

Try that one on your boss, or whoever pays you… "my absorptive capacity for increased funding is in place… your missed opportunity needs to be decreased". You really, really can't match that.

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