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Czech scientists outraged at scrapping of EU subsidy /19. 05. 2014/

Czech scientists are outraged and warn of an international scandal over the Education Ministry's decision to scrap the contest for EU subsidies worth a billion Kč that were to help Czech research centers attract elite foreign scientists, daily Lidové noviny (LN) writes.

The money was to go to the institutes and universities within the Research and Development for Innovation operational program based on their applications accepted until January.

The institutes hoped that the money would help them attract elite scientists from America, Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere.

Instead of releasing the competition results, the Education Ministry announced the scrapping of the competition, citing a shortage of money the Czech state would need for the projects before they are covered from the EU funds.

“If the decision were to be definitive, dozens of millions of crowns have been wasted on the preparation of the projects. Even foreigners have visited us in connection with the projects,” Brno's Masaryk University rector Mikuláš Bek said.

“Moreover, it may irreversibly damage the Czech Republic's reputation,” Bek pointed out.

In early May, Education Minister Marcel Chládek (Social Democrats, ČSSD) still urged for viable projects to seek EU subsidies as quickly as possible because as many as 10 billion Kč from the sum the Czechs are entitled to draw within the above operational program threaten to remain unused.

The scientific institutes and universities have already signed contracts with scientists who decided to join the planned new teams of experts, the paper writes.

“A really brilliant researcher from a state-of-art institute in Dresden was to come to work with us. As our project successfully made it through all rounds of assessment, we were sure that it will get the subsidy. It would be enormously valuable for the Biocev center,” Václav Hořejší, professor from the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Science, told the daily.

“Many people spent dozens or hundreds of hours working on the project so that the [application] could be lodged by the deadline. The news from the ministry was shocking. It is a huge shame before the world. What the foreign researchers involved will think about the way Czech research is organized?” Hořejší asked.

“This is impolite towards the people who repeatedly came here from as remote areas as the US, for example,” said Dalibor Štys, Chládek's predecessor in the ministerial post, who prepared the contest.

A similar contest of projects seeking subsidies from the EU funds will be launched by the new operational program Research, Development and Education.

Maybe it will, but only if foreign scientists still show interest in it and if they keep trusting their Czech colleagues, LN with sarcasm. 

Source: Praguepost.com, 17.05.2014. Full article can be found here.

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