Since I was in Brussels anyway, I decided to attend the FISA Roadmapping Workshop on Mach 31. It had the usual presentations about possible future research topics, some of them more interesting than others, as usual.
But a somewhat unexpected discussion also sprang up: Are we (as European researchers) actually taking the right approach in organizing research. One gentleman (from Aalto university, I believe) made the point that our competitors take about a month from idea to starting research work, having enough money to directly fund a, say, PhD student. Very agile approach, very quick to react to market trends and needs. European research projects are long in the making (easily two years pass from idea, organizing consortium, writing proposal, evaluation, negotiations, …); national projects are not necessarily any better. Obviously, there are advantages to the big European projects as well, but we aren’t too good on agility, admittedly.
These statements were followed by similar supporting remarks (I confess I chipped in as well). Nothing concrete came out of that, but I do believe we need to be faster and, sometimes, smaller than in the past.
Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in the SAIL project, on behalf of University of Paderborn. The opinions expressed in this post, however, are my personal ones, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.