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Vol. 32 No. 6
November-October 2010

IUPAC Wire | News and information on IUPAC, its fellows, and members organizations
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/News

IUPAC Pilot Call for Proposals in Polymer Chemistry

The research world is changing and international collaboration in chemistry is becoming increasingly important in achieving scientific success. What is clear is the increased need and desire for multinational research, but what is not clear is where the funding for these programs will come from. Traditionally, national organizations are reluctant to provide funds to nondomestic researchers, and, in practice, funding truly international research projects can be quite problematic for a variety of technical and bureaucratic reasons.

In an effort to change this, the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Research Funding—backed by several leading funding organizations and embodying the spirit of the upcoming International Year of Chemistry in 2011—was established in December 2007 to promote increased international collaboration and networking in the global chemistry community. From the committee meetings grew the idea for the first Transnational Call for Proposals in Polymer Chemistry, which was conducted from October 2009 through September 2010. The goal of this pilot call was to establish an efficient transnational funding program in chemistry, to transcend national/continental boundaries, to allow for minimal bureaucracy for the applicants, and to establish best practices for future calls of this type. Supporting this call were the IUPAC Polymer Division and the seven national funding organizations that agreed to participate:

  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft e.V., Germany
  • Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil
  • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal
  • Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, Ireland
  • Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain
  • National Science Foundation, USA

The pilot call was configured to allow a team of three or more principal investigators from three different nations to submit a single research proposal that underwent a single common scientific review and received a single funding decision. For each successful proposal, the individual applicants received funding from their respective national participating agency. The program was intended to fund one graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in each laboratory for a three-year period. Funding also included travel expenses, consumables, and minor equipment.

Applications were reviewed by an international panel of leading chemistry experts who made the ultimate decisions on funding priorities. Because of the diversity among topics in polymer chemistry, research themes for these proposals were limited to the following high-priority basic science subjects:

  • novel polymer syntheses
  • new supramolecular polymer assemblies
  • light-harvesting and light-emitting polymers

The enthusiasm for the pilot call was pronounced and the resulting proposals involved unique research teams from all seven countries, most of which would have been impossible to fund otherwise. The majority of the applications were from teams utilizing diverse country combinations that were used in no other applications; in fact, of the 35 possible national combinations, 18 were ultimately used. Only 14 percent of the received applications were comprised solely of investigators from the five European nations, where international collaboration has historically been more accessible, while 72 percent were bicontinental and 14 percent were tricontinental. Overall, a 25 percent funding success rate was achieved, which is in line with the generalized success rates for the individual agencies.

The investigators and titles of the successful applications will be made available at <www.iupac.org/polyedu/DivIVCall> and on the agency websites of the seven affiliates. Laureates are also scheduled to report on their progress at the 44th IUPAC World Polymer Congress in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, from 24–29 June 2012 (www.macro2012.org).

For more information about this pilot program, contact Steven Meyers <proposal@iupac.org>, secretariat for the transnational funding opportunity for proposals in polymer chemistry, or Markus Behnke <Markus.Behnke@dfg.de>, program officer for the Division of Chemistry and Process Engineering at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

www.iupac.org/polyedu/DivIVCall

Post-publi notes:
- This first/pilot Call is the result of the feasibility study conducted under IUPAC project 2006-013-1-020.
- At the end of 2010, the seven awarded projects were annouced; the topics and the teams are presented in details here.
- In November 2012, a second International Call was initiated for proposals in sustainable chemistry; details here.

- In December 2012, the task group who monitored the first call, released a detail report that provides guidelines; details under IUPAC project 2010-032-3-400.


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