Maritime & Marine Helix Launch Event: A Chat with University of Malta Marine Archeologist, Professor Timmy Gambin

 Professor Timmy Gambin

Professor Timmy Gambin

In anticipation of the upcoming Maritime & Marine Helix launch event at the University of Malta, Vision2020 took a moment to discuss the new Helix community with Professor of Maritime Archeology, Timmy Gambin.

As an Associate Professor in Maritime Archaeology, Professor Gambin's role at the University of Malta Department of Classics includes both teaching and field research. Amongst various teaching responsibilities, he is also the coordinator of an international MA program in Global Maritime Archaeology in collaboration with the Maritime Museum of Western Australia.

Professor Gambin also directs a number of research initiatives, including the Phoenician Shipwreck project, the Underwater Aviation Archaeology Project as well as a large offshore survey, aimed at creating a map of Malta’s underwater cultural heritage.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Professor Gambin. Would you mind sharing with us the root of your passion in Maritime and Marine research?

I first got involved through my love for Maltese and Mediterranean history - which are both inextricably linked to the sea. It is no exaggeration to say that material remains from thousands of years of maritime history are present on the seabed and it is therefore absolutely necessary for us to explore, study and protect this precious and delicate underwater cultural resource.

Can you give us a taste of some of your ongoing research projects, or those similar to the goals of the Maritime & Marine Helix? 

Phoenician Shipwreck Project - first deep water excavation of a shipwreck by hums. We do this using rebreathers and mixed gases. This Phoenician site dates to 700 BC and is the oldest known shipwreck in the central Mediterranean.  

Results from this project are providing data that are revolutionising how we study and understand food production and the movement of goods in the economic realities of the Archaic mediterranean.

Given that this is no small undertaking and many research projects of this type can last for several years, how important is Horizon 2020 funding to your research, and to the University of Malta as a whole?

Horizon 2020 funding is of immense importance to our University. It enables us to collaborate with experts and top European institutions from the EU and beyond in subjects as diverse as space and insects. Furthermore, most of the research funding for Malta is derived from European sources, since national funding in Malta is still very limited.

What do you hope will be accomplished in the coming year as the University of Malta takes on a leadership role at the helm of the Maritime & Marine Helix?

Through this new Helix, we aim to bring together experts from diverse scientific and geographical backgrounds so as we may work together on common objectives. This is especially important because the sea provides spaces within the norms related to borders that do not exist.

By this I mean that both opportunities and threats transcend local, national and even international delineations. What is a problem in one locality today may well spread - unknown and undetected - to another.

The marine and maritime helix will hopefully act as a catalyst for innovative projects that explore trans-border initiatives.

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Moreover, except for projects such as MYOCEAN and Seadatacloud, marine and maritime aspects are conspicuous by their absence in the University of Malta’s participation in HORIZON 2020 initiatives. It is therefore imperative that the University of Malta makes the most of its nodal position in this helix to broaden its collaborative and participatory horizons.

My role will be accomplished with the support of the Research Support Services Directorate (RSSD). The mission of the RSSD is to provide comprehensive support to academics on all aspects of undertaking excellent research, from obtaining funding to carrying out experimental work.

RSSD are currently providing support in using the Vision 2020 network to build consortia through the Crowdhelix platform. They are also supporting the organisation of the Maritime & Marine Helix launch event to be held September 27-28 at the University of Malta. Registration is upon now until the 20th of September. 

 

Crowdhelix and Emerald partner to support impactful research

Crowdhelix, the Open Innovation network for research organisations and businesses, and Emerald Publishing have partnered to support impactful research. Previously known as Vision2020 and now relaunched as Crowdhelix, the network connects participants from leading research institutions and innovating companies around the world. Crowdhelix supports those seeking funding from the European Union's €80 billion 'Horizon 2020' programme, with members already awarded over €2.5 billion of Horizon 2020 funding, to deliver more than 4000 projects. Emerald, known for high quality applied research in business, management, social sciences and increasingly in areas of societal challenges, publishes books, journals and case studies which bridge research and practice.

The partnership will support researchers along more stages of their workflow, from identifying funding opportunities and finding collaborators, to planning impactful research that engages with and is disseminated to key stakeholders across academia, policy and practice.

Abdul Rahim of Crowdhelix, welcomed the partnership’s remit to provide more seamless support to researchers: “Emerald will provide impact literacy training tools, an open research publishing platform, as well as dissemination and communication expertise which will be valued by members of the Crowdhelix community. Crowdhelix’s goal is to create optimised collaboration teams for international research projects and this partnership will enable to scale up the active global research and innovation community on our platform”.

Emerald and Crowdhelix share an ethos of real impact: providing intelligence, tools and collaboration services which enable research to be conducted and disseminated openly and rapidly to benefit communities of knowledge, practice and society at large, and create meaningful change. 

Tony Roche, Director of Publishing & Strategic Partnerships at Emerald commented that, “Together, Crowdhelix and Emerald support more stages of the journey towards impactful research, connecting universities, research groups and companies. Our aim is to help researchers be more successful in finding collaborators, winning funding and managing research to have greatest impact.

International research collaboration is fundamental to addressing many of today’s greatest challenges.  With this exciting partnership we aim to support the development of world-class networks who will take research from funding stage, through innovation and open dissemination, ultimately creating real change that benefits society.”  

From Movement to Movement: Turning the Human Body into a Digital Instrument

By Cais Jurgens

“In one way or another, I’ve always been involved in music not just as an art  form, but as a form of research,” explains Atau Tanaka, Professor of Media Computing at Goldsmiths University in London.

In anticipation for the upcoming European Research Music Conference, taking place at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona on June 11-13, I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Tanaka for an interview around his research into digitising humanity’s embodied relationship with music and sound.

I also took this opportunity to discuss how funding from the European Research Council not only enabled his research to be conducted, but how the science behind our relationship with music and sound will have a lasting impact on our society.

To begin, I asked how he first became involved in the ERC, and what incentives inspired him to apply for funding in the first place.

“The funding this project received from the ERC provided me with a path for discovering situations or opportunities in which research could serve as a purpose for making music, and thinking of music as something that could somehow once again become new, or never before heard and experienced.”

Professor Tanaka has been working in this area through different contexts, including his time at Sony in Paris in the early 2000’s doing early mobile music research. In the lab in Paris there was a strong EU funding culture of applying for grants under Framework Period 7, the predecessor of Horizon 2020.

“That’s where I got to know about EU collaborative projects,” he explains. “I applied for an ERC grant for the first time in 2008, when I was a professor at Newcastle University. Interdisciplinary research was a huge buzzword at that time, as was practice based research, and so therein lies the challenge of balancing scientific research methods with music, which is a creative, yet highly technical subject of the humanities.

The ERC seemed apt, because it was PI focused, and because it really demanded vision, and a kind of a risk where you could take a subject area and push it beyond its normal boundaries. However, it took until 2012 to be awarded, which is actually an important message to anyone applying for funding for their research.

The only way to write a good grant is to get one rejected, so to those writing starting grants, my advice is not to wait until your eligibility is about to run out. Get started right away, and understand that getting rejected is actually quite often a part of the process.

While the initial idea for a proposal must of course be rigorous and credible, one incentive to apply for funding from the ERC is its spirit of curiosity, and taking chances. A researcher needs to be able to think about where they might be in five years, and be able to talk about their goals with confidence, but they are still encouraged to leave open the possibility for discovery and the unknown.

Underlying that, there must be some kind of methodology and approach and process that is solid, and could eventually guarantee results. I think that is the nature of fundamental research, one that is currently being challenged and threatened in an increasingly neoliberal economy.

The ERC is a great scheme in that it continues supporting fundamental research, as opposed to the shift from FP7 to Horizon 2020, and the increasing pressure for business-oriented innovation research to take over. They support economic development instead of knowledge, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but to allocate funds meant specifically for research and knowledge I feel is somewhat misplaced. I’m disappointed by that, as I do not find that industrial pressures are sufficiently curiosity driven, which should be the basis of scientific research.”

To follow on from our discussion around the benefits of ERC funded research, I asked how Professor Tanaka’s recently finished project, and its currently funded follow up, would be represented at the upcoming European Research Music Conference in Barcelona.

“My recently finished ERC project was called Meta Gesture Music, and ran from 2012-2017. This project was funded under the SH5 “Cultures and Cultural Production” panel of the ERC, and looked at three things. First it looked at sound in culture, it looked at the body interaction with digital technologies, and it looked at cutting edge technologies of machine learning, all within the context of new musical performance.

So what does this mean, exactly? Essentially it means looking at how we have, ourselves, a social and embodied relationship with sound in everyday life, and that these interactions condition our music experiences.

Today, we have sophisticated human interface technologies designed to detect gesture, corporeal action, and body physiology as inputs to an interactive, musical system, or ‘a new musical instrument’. We are able to be be expressive with these technologies, as we would be with any traditional musical instrument.

The challenge was to rediscover the rich relationships between the analog world with real musical instruments, and to create digital technologies that have that same kind of richness.

That project ended in 2017 with the publication of the usual academic papers and book chapters, but also with a concert in London and the release of an album on CD, Spotify, and iTunes. As part of that research, I created musical artefacts, recordings and performances, which I consider as research outputs as important as the traditional publications.

As of May 1st, I’m doing an ERC Proof-of-Concept project. This is a shorter, eighteen month long project that takes the fruits of the bigger, previous project to explore possible commercialisation channels. So essentially, taking the last five years’ worth of research, and then applying it to new and different kinds of products. Specifically, we are looking to produce not just a tool for music production, but a physiological instrument for gestural musical performance.

To give an example, a Theremin is an old instrument that was used to detect the movement of the hands, and is a well known touchstone in the history of electronic music. So now I’m developing a new instrument that directly accesses the electrical impulses of muscle contraction in the body as a musical input.  

It is worth noting that in the time I’ve been doing this research, technology has hit the mainstream and public consciousness, but because it’s generally product driven, we don’t always understand the deeper individual human creative potential , nor endeavour to make each individual musically expressive. Now, with digital integration, we can take concepts from our basic research to make them more accessible to the general public.

Traditional instruments, for example, are notorious for difficulty. Mastering an instrument takes years of practice, while digital ones we can be made easier. We want to navigate this space to create something rewarding, should someone become a digital musical instrument virtuoso, so to speak. In this way I wonder if  embodied interaction with digital media can become more palpable, providing a richness of interaction that can be easy to access, but provides continuously rewarding experiences?

Our proof of concept will be a bio-musical instrument. From the previous project, this will include the element of muscle interfaces, which will be used to design a type of ‘turnkey,’ easy to use musical instrument for beginners, virtuosi, and eventually, for the disabled.  

I originally became interested in this area of research when I was a student at Harvard in the 1980’s, right at the cusp of the transition from analog to digital, and music was the first medium to go digital, before image and video.

In the early 80’s musical interfaces were being developed that would prove to be revolutionary. Even in computing, the mouse, for example, is an interface that we now use every single day, but at the time, the concept was new.

Musical instruments demand interaction, through different processes, for example, blowing, bowing, strumming. So given the example of working with computer interface devices, I wanted to see if we could transfer the creation of sound and eventually music to the digital space. Since then, my vision in research has been driven by visceral interaction with digital sound.

Today of course, there exists software for the creation of digital music, but the human element is somewhat removed. Virtual reality is trending now, but it is in its second wave, so to speak. The first wave was in the early 1990’s, the same time I started on my research in the real time performance of digital music.

During that first wave of VR, I became interested in the concept of a virtual musical instrument. Ironically, this meant not taking away the real aspect but to make instruments with new technology but that still went back to the essence of our bodily relationship with sound.”

The ERC has been very good at reminding us that opportunities exists to apply for a second grant, and the follow on funding for proof of concept. But obviously, this must be different from the fundamental research and can translate it into a commercial possibility, which is what I am working on now.

Turning to the upcoming event in Barcelona, now the question becomes how this research fits in with that of the other grantees presenting and performing the outcomes of their own projects.

According to Professor Tanaka, digital music technologies have exploded in the last twenty years, especially with the arrival of Digital Audio Workstation products, and consumer services like Spotify. This means that the number of people working in and on music is vast, and the music industry has now gone almost completely digital.

“The research community in this area  is a tight knit family and I’m lucky to know a number of the presenters. For example, Professor Xavier Serra at University Pompeu Fabra, who has organised the conference, has focused on analysing and re-synthesizing sound. Professor Serra would go on to use his ERC grant as a way to apply his signal processing and musical analysis techniques to look at music from different cultures around the world.

I think that’s a really interesting demonstration of low level signal processing can be mapped to a high level, and very exploratory cultural aspect, which the ERC allows.

Although I’m looking forward to all of the presentations, a new grantee I’m excited about is Pierre Alexandre Tremblay from the University of Huddersfield. As a composer and electric bass player, Pierre has just started an ambitious ERC project called FluCoMa, which explores ‘new musical ways of exploiting ever-growing banks of sound and gestures within the digital composition process.’ Plus, this is a great example of a grantee bringing their experience as a performer to an ERC funded project, which is of course, very close to my heart.”

The end of our discussion focused on the general public, who are also invited the take part in the event and witness the performances. As much of the research funded by the ERC follows one common theme, the betterment of humanity, it can be difficult sometimes for the general public to feel like progress is actually being made. That the research they are funding through their taxes has a meaningful, tangible impact on their lives.

In a results driven society, this has proven to be a difficult hurdle for science to overcome, even with the collective intelligence of the world’s researchers and the funding that pours in from governmental schemes, such as the ERC. However, Professor Tanaka is optimistic.

“I think that the fundamental research we carry out does eventually have an impact on our daily lives, but can take 20-30 years to have that impact. The way we live today, with the technology we have, our environmental awareness, quality of life, all these factors have their roots in fundamental, scientific, and humanistic research.

With music, that connection is even clearer. Music is something in everyday life, an art form that is universal and accessible but undeniably difficult at the same time. Bridging these worlds is the act of bringing research from the lab and out into the public domain.

Popular music today is really interesting in that the sounds being produced would have been considered experimental just a few years ago. Our sonic palette is beginning to grow and the place of electronics within is now pervasive and humanised.

I do research, my music is highly experimental, but to see the things we discover being picked up by young musicians in pop and other mainstream music continues to amaze me.

I feel that the future has arrived and that’s a nice thing, but it can actually be suffocating, and so to continue to be inventive and daring in our explorations when so many things are now possible is a real challenge and responsibility for young researchers – to go beyond. And within all that, we must also now take stock of the human and ethical implications around things like privacy, data exploitation and human rights.

Atau Tanaka is a professor of Media Computing at Goldsmiths University in London. He will be presenting the outcomes of his ERC funded project, Meta-Gesture Music: Social, Embodied, Interactive Musical Instruments, at the European Research Music Conference in Barcelona on June 11-13th.

Vision2020 FP9 Mission Statement

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Vision2020 is a pan-European Open Innovation Network that enables Research Technology Organisations and businesses to collaborate, innovate and grow. The network has more than 350+ member organisations from 42 countries and is present in all EU Member State countries.

In response to the public consultation on EU Funds in the area of Investment, Research & Innovation, SMEs and Single Market, the Vision2020 network recommends the following:

❖ Scientific Excellence
It’s imperative that scientific excellence continues to be at the heart of research and innovation funding. This is the

starting point to ensure that the most innovative and brilliant ideas are then developed to achieve social, economic and

environmental impact across Europe, and this should be a continuing priority in FP9 and future framework

programmes.

❖ The “3 Os”
Open Innovation
Open innovation has become an important force in facilitating cross-disciplinary, cross-sectorial, cross-institutional and

cross-border collaboration. To continue to drive these types of collaborations, innovation networks need to be

supported in order to create ecosystems that continue to develop and drive open innovation between researchers,

innovators, industries, users/citizens and governments across Europe and globally.

Open to the World
In order to continue to enable and expand collaboration in excellent science, and tackle global societal challenges in the

most effective and collaborative way, the best organisations and people need to be involved. Therefore, Europe needs

access to the best talent, knowledge and resources wherever they are located, making it important that open to the

world should be continued and expanded.

Open Science
Open access, through open access publications and data, has been enabling the sharing of knowledge across

disciplines, industries and countries, which has been fuelling innovation and new collaboration across Europe and

beyond. This should continue to be the focus in the in FP9 in order to build and leverage the momentum in this area.

❖ Maximising Impact
Research and Innovation activities must create and drive impact, and at the core of achieving this is facilitating an

environment where cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration is supported and encouraged. In particular,

ensuring research organisations are collaborating with industry, to drive research innovation to the market, where it

will have direct social and economic impact across Europe.

❖ Increasing funding
An increased budget commitment is needed to achieve the ambitious EU research and innovation strategy. Funding

levels must be as ambitious as the strategy, and the target of 3% GDP must be reinstated.

❖ Simplification
Simplification remains a priority for all organisations involved in framework programme funding, and it is

recommended this remains a priority in FP9, building on the aspects simplified in H2020.

❖ Innovation support networks
Innovation support networks play a crucial role in enabling the right environment across the European Research Area

for research and innovation to flourish. To increase the competitive advantages of European organisations, including

SMEs, at national, European and International levels, organisations must form networks to work together, as this will

result in their long term competitive advantage.

❖ Widening participation
Ensuring engagement and collaboration across Europe is crucial to Europe’s long term growth and competitiveness,

therefore widening participation needs to continue to be a priority and should be cross-cutting in FP9.

❖ Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)
SSH should continue to be integrated across the next framework programme, to ensure the socio-economic dimension

into the design, development and implementation of research and innovative technologies and processes, thereby

ensuring that the research and innovation investment positively impacts European society.

Science is a Virtue

A chat with the University of Bergen’s Dr Kenneth Hugdahl on his research into auditory hallucination, why meaningful scientific advancement takes time and how the European Research Council (ERC) is integral in making it happen.

By Cais Jurgens

Figure 3_Brain network activation.JPG

In the last century, humanity has produced more world changing, scientific and technological breakthroughs than we can ultimately wrap our collective heads around.

With this in mind, it is important to note that scientific progress can be slow. The breakthroughs that lead to a lasting impact on our everyday lives require a great deal of patience.  

To a society living in the age of instant, short term, social media induced dopamine highs, it is easy to forget that the very technology we take for granted may have required a lifetime of research to produce. The medicine and drugs we ingest from the corner pharmacy once began as a simple question in the mind of a scientist and now cost next to nothing to obtain.

One would almost think that this kind of innovation happens overnight, and as a society, we grow impatient and maybe even resentful that some of the world’s most pressing problems have not yet been sent the way of smallpox or compacted into a handheld device.

In light of this mood, I had the great pleasure to sit down for a chat with Dr Kenneth Hugdahl from the University of Bergen in Norway.

Dr Hugdahl explained to me the reasoning behind the virtue of patience in science, the endlessness of the possibilities we have before us and how the European Research Council (ERC) has shown a willingness to foster a culture of scientific breakthroughs that will have a lasting impact on society.

Dr Hugdahl, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. How did you first become involved with the ERC, why did you decide to apply for an ERC grant and what were the incentives?

Back in 2008 when the ERC was less well known, I was contacted by the research administration department at the University of Bergen and they asked if I’d be interested in submitting a proposal.

Although I didn’t know much about the ERC at the time, the concept was extremely appealing to me because for once I felt that a funding programme was making the distinction, that I have also made, between “science” and “research.”

We don’t often make this distinction because normally, we think of these terms as being synonymous. To me, science is about having an idea.

As I understand, it doesn’t matter to the ERC if you can guarantee a definite impact on society in the short term, it’s whether or not you have a novel, scientific idea that has potential. From my point of view, the ERC recognises this distinction and because of their bottom-up approach to discovery, they are representative of “science.”

To make a further distinction, many other funding programmes available at the time that I was contacted, as well as today, first need a collaborative network or consortium before they can go anywhere.

The ERC, however, avoids first deciding on an umbrella topic to start with, it went the other way around. Essentially, the strategy of the ERC is to say “we will fund anything, as long as it passes our quality test.” So when the research department contacted me, naturally I said yes, that would be appealing... But why me?

At the time, I was researching speech perception, how is it organised in the brain and what happens within the brain when we are listening to someone talking to us. While the ERC would not simply fund my research as it was happening, they would fund a new idea, which could be initially based on that research.

And that idea turned into your current area of research?

Exactly! And then it struck me, that hearing a voice coming from the inside is similar to hearing a voice coming from the outside, with the important difference being that there is no outer source to explain the experience. I had the idea that maybe inner voices activate the same areas and pathways in the brain that would be used to process outside speech.  

So I wrote up the grant based on that question. What happens in the brain when we are hearing voices that do not exist? To my great surprise, the panel liked that idea and encouraged me to apply my previous research to this new area of my research.

What sparked your initial interest in auditory hallucination?

An auditory hallucination is like hearing a voice without an acoustic source to trace it back to.  There are no sound waves hitting the ear to set in motion the neural processes that lead to the perception or sensing of a sound, or in this case, a voice.

Therefore, discovering the origin of an inner voice would be fascinating and in addition to being a question related to consciousness and the complexities of the mind, it could also have a great benefit for society in the long term.

For example, hearing an inner voice is a major symptom in schizophrenia, which is one of the most severe mental disorders that we know of and is a huge burden on society, individuals and families.  By understanding the mechanisms that cause inner voices and other symptoms that objectively do not exist, we can eventually set new treatment targets, and develop better diagnostics.

The fact that I could foresee a societal impact arise from what I consider to be a basic scientific question really sparked my interest. I knew I had the methods to undertake this study and that if the answers came out to our hypothesis, this could lead to better treatment for a very serious disorder.

This brings me back around to my first point, which is why I’m so fond of the ERC. To me, the initial idea is the most important thing. The ERC then recognises that idea and works to empower scientists by helping them build it up, step by step, into a huge project with long term societal impact.

How could your current projects fit in with the ERC=science2 project, Senses?

This is a fascinating campaign and if I have understood it correctly, it studies how we relate to the outer world using our five basic senses and asks whether or not we could manipulate those senses to our benefit using technology.

I don’t just mean “senses” in the way our body responds to outer stimuli, as I think it could also include the senses that come from our “inner world.” Hallucinations, or the general misrepresentation of believing that something inside is coming from the outside, fits perfectly in this category.

To that end, as we develop artificial intelligence, is it perhaps possible that robots or other machines will one day hallucinate?

If a machine can be intelligent, is there an end to that intelligence and could it eventually become so advanced that it has the same kind of pathology and abnormalities that can develop within the human brain? To get back to the key point, this project connects our outer senses with our inner world. I believe that auditory hallucination sits right in between, because it is the belief that I am responding to something from the outer world when in fact, the opposite is true.  

I think this might also be an interesting twist to the very concept of senses, in that they don’t only go in one direction. While receiving and acting on information from the outside is the main aspect of our senses, it is important to consider that we are also aware and conscious of our own thoughts, which is kind of an inner sense in itself.  

What would you say are the objectives of your two current projects, Voices, which is finished and On/Off, which is ongoing?

In the first project I was out to answer the question of what’s going on in the brain when an individual is hearing voices artificially. Where in the brain do these voices come from, how is brain chemistry changing, how are the neurons reacting, what kind of impulses are they sending between themselves to create this inner sense?

We were able to find some answers to those questions, but then another question struck me when I was about to write the second proposal. After all that research, one big unanswered question remained, and that was why aren’t these hallucinations constant?

Why do they seem to fluctuate over time, and start and stop almost spontaneously? We were so focused on what makes them start, we hadn’t yet thought to ask ourselves an equally important and simple question, what makes them stop?

If we could figure that out, and particularly how the chemistry of the brain is changing when the neurons are signaling the hallucinations to stop, we could find new targets for treatment to prolong the “peacetime.” That includes developing new drugs that mimic the chemistry in the brain that turns off a hallucination, and maybe even prevents them from ever starting again.

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Is this what you are hoping to discover by going for the second grant?

Yes, so in this new proposal I’m asking one simple question, why do hallucinations fluctuate?  In a sense, the rest of the proposal fills in to that one question, so there is a direct progression from the first project into the second.

If I hadn’t had the first project, I probably never would have asked the second question, or written the second proposal.  

Why do you feel it is important for the general public to be aware of the kind of research going on at the University of Bergen and that the ERC is trying to promote, even if it doesn’t directly affect them today?

This relates, in my view, to my point that the ERC is a science funder rather than a research funder. Without these initial scientific ideas, we wouldn’t end up with much to apply directly to society because we wouldn’t know enough about the mechanisms that cause changes or phenomenon in nature, in general.

To bring this back to your question about my own projects, it is my view that we could probably not understand schizophrenia without basic science, and a basic understanding of the mechanisms that cause auditory hallucinations.

Without these basic understandings, we’ll just end up manufacturing medications that treat the symptoms of a disease, instead of understanding the root cause.

Therefore, I don’t see a conflict between what the ERC is doing in the long term and what the politicians and policy-makers and the general public see in the short term. Furthermore, without breakthroughs at the basic levels, there will be media headlines that promise much more than can be delivered.

The ERC provides a platform for a solid breakthrough of knowledge and in that way, at least to the University of Bergen but I imagine to many others as well, is the most important and most prestigious funding source in European academia today.

 

Figure 1_Kenneth Hugdahl portrett.JPG


Kenneth Hugdahl is a neuroscientist and professor of biological psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway, and holds adjunct position as researcher in psychiatry and radiology at the Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway. He took his PhD in psychology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and moved to Bergen and Norway in 1984 to take up a professorial chair. He has supervised more than 40 PhD candidates and been a member of numerous committees and boards, both nationally and internationally. He was awarded Honorary Doctor at the University of Turku, Finland in 2009, and is elected member to both the Finnish and Norwegian Academies of Science and Letters. He has received several prizes and awards for his research, among them the Møbius Prize from the Research Council of Norway in 2014. He was one of the pioneers in introducing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to Norway in the early 1990s, and was the Head of the Bergen fMRI Group from its start to 2016 when he resigned. Kenneth Hugdahl has published more than 300 articles, and six books, mainly in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, with applications to psychiatry, neurology and related fields.  

 

FIGURE LEGENDS

Figure 1: Kenneth Hugdahl portrait. Photo: Thor Monsen, Bergen, with permission

Figure 2: Interior of an MR scanner, courtesy of Dept. Radiology, Haukeland University Hospital. Photo: Eyvind Senneset, with permission.

Figure 3: Example of a brain activation network, recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Photo: Alex Craven, University of Bergen.

New Quantum Helix Entangles Researchers & Companies in Vision2020

  TU Delft in the Netherlands takes the lead in Quantum Physics on Crowdhelix

TU Delft in the Netherlands takes the lead in Quantum Physics on Crowdhelix

Today, Professor Stephanie Wehner kicked off the Quantum Helix initiative at QuTech in Delft. This initiative, within the Horizon 2020 program, opens the door towards an active community linking researchers and companies on quantum information technology. The Quantum Helix is supported by the FET Quantum Flagship, in which QuTech is highly involved.

One of the goals of the Vision2020 network is linking excellent researchers and innovating companies to deliver pioneering projects under the EU’s Horizon 2020 funding program. Helixes, such as the newly launched Quantum Helix, allow for community building within focused, promising topics where advice and expertise can be shared. At the same time, collaboration between experts in the 15 other specific Helixes is encouraged and allows for the development of new technologies on cross-cutting topics.

This kind of collaboration is made possible by Vision2020’s bespoke networking  platform, Crowdhelix. The goal of this platform is to facilitate collaboration between members of academia and industry in pursuit of grant funding from the European Union. Currently, the Crowdhelix platform features nearly 4300 unique users as it cultivates  an intelligent and automated matchmaking space for funding opportunities.

  Professor Stephanie Wehner is leading the Quantum Helix

Professor Stephanie Wehner is leading the Quantum Helix

QuTech, as powered by TU Delft and TNO, is proud to setup the Quantum Helix in order to generate an approachable network on quantum research and engineering. As a recognized scientific member of the Quantum Community, Professor Stephanie Wehner will lead the Quantum Helix.

As a noted Leeuwenhoek Professor in quantum information at QuTech, Stephanie is one of the founders of QCRYPT, which has subsequently become the largest conference in quantum cryptography. She has written numerous scientific articles in both physics and computer science and as part of the Quantum Internet Team, she works with experimentalists in order to jointly overcome the theoretical challenges in building large scale quantum networks.

Supported by the FET Quantum Flagship, the Quantum Helix aims to provide an industry platform for the Quantum Flagship community in Europe. This will be integral in helping to connect promising startups with corporate players. At the same time this will also enhance the connection between industry and academia in order to address technical subjects or infrastructure requirements for future needs.

 

From Scepticism to a Clear Vision: Greece in Horizon 2020

On behalf of Vision2020: The Horizon Network, I'd like to present the second article in a series of interviews with some of our most active members. In this article, I'll be introducing Panos Psoroidas. 

As a Vision2020 Regional Business Partner from Athens, Panos was kind enough to give us his thoughts on Greece's place in Horizon 2020, how to potentially drive more research and innovation funding into Southern Europe during the upcoming work programme, and his experience so far working with Vision2020.

By Cais Jurgens

Good afternoon and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. To begin, can you please tell me a bit about yourself, how you first come across Vision2020 and perhaps go into some detail about your initial thoughts of the network and its goals?

I have been active in the European Research & Technology ecosystem since FP5, as a business advisor, mainly on management and on building exploitation strategies for research projects.

For a number of reasons, my involvement in EU-funded projects was not my first priority for a number of years, only to be revived by the end of 2013.

It was not more than a year ago, that I was introduced to Vision2020 through a colleague. Knowing that Horizon 2020 has been a major area of interest for me, she was adamant that I should get to know what the Vision2020 Network (Vision2020) is all about.

I must admit that at first, I was rather sceptical. For example, there are quite a few networks around and the actual value they provide to H2020 participants and implementers, besides generic information and proposal submission tips, has rarely been conspicuous to me.

However, it became clear that Vision2020 is different from the moment I spoke with their senior executives. I could tell immediately that I was speaking to a team with an in-depth, hands-on knowledge of the overall Research and Innovation ecosystem in Europe, as well as a clear vision for moving forward and branching out as a network.

Facts also helped: Vision2020 member organisations include some of the most important research organisations globally, many of which I’ve tried hard to work with before (sometimes unsuccessfully…). Being a member of Vision2020 suddenly unlocked all this potential.

But what really worked for me, was when I participated in a Vision2020 event in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which was co-hosted by the leader of the Health Helix, KU Leuven. There, through a very well organised process, I witnessed network members being helpfully guided towards participation in winning Horizon 2020 consortia and research ideas. 

Immediately after the Ljubljana event, I knew all the necessary contributing factors for successful networking and tangible results are in place:

  • The network administrators (i.e. people with a clear vision and strategy, fully dedicated to maximum success),

  • The quality of members (comprising some of the most important players in the European R&I scene)

  • The working methodology (i.e. an efficient and effective way for building successful  proposals & consortia)

You held some meetings with Vision2020 staff in Athens in 2016. How did these meetings come about and what came from them?

The arrival of Vision 2020 Network executives in Athens was an ideal opportunity to introduce the network to some of the most active in research & innovation (R&I) entities in Greece. Also, it was a good opportunity to share opinions with trusted Greek partners on the extent to which the Vision 2020 Network co-working concept could be applied to an R&I scene with intense peculiarities, such as the Greek one.

Those meetings were a real success: It is far from an overstatement to say that ALL organisations attended those meetings, including the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences and others. Several have already lined up for Vision2020 membership.

As of now, there are about two and a half years left in the current framework period. Although that doesn’t seem like much, it is certainly worth noting that there is still about €30 billion left to be awarded for research and innovation. With this in mind, what do you hope to accomplish by partnering with Vision2020 over the next two years?

A significant part of my professional effort has been dedicated to helping enterprises and organisations move closer to reaching their goals through the exploitation of the EU’s R&I funding framework.

My involvement covers all relevant stages, i.e. from the initial maturation of the research project idea up to project conclusion. Through partnering with Vision2020, I am convinced that this effort will be vertically facilitated through the transfer of knowledge and expertise accumulated in numerous thematic areas (called “helixes” within Vision2020).

On the other hand, being already a member of the Vision2020 family, my main priorities include introducing domestic organisations and enterprises involved in R&I that can really contribute to the overall Vision2020 success.

Horizon 2020 is all about collaboration and Vision2020 has developed a very unique and very efficient environment for collaboration. Yet, success needs one more ingredient: active contribution of all network members to common objectives!

One of the major goals of Vision2020 is to increase the level of engagement of institutions and businesses from Southern and Eastern Europe. What are some of the struggles your region has faced in the past when attempting to collaborate within Horizon 2020 for the purpose of winning funding?

According to a recent study, Greek researchers amount to 3% of the world's most influential scientists (in terms of citations and references), although Greeks globally account for less than 0.20% of the world's 6.92 billion inhabitants.

That is 15 times above the expected norm. Yet, of the above, an estimated 85% have already left the country. This is perhaps indicative of the dynamics prevailing within the Greek research community.

Greece has also been hit by a persistent recession, which has been largely due to severe pathogenesis in the economic and public sphere.  Also, being in the global news so often, and seldom for the right reasons, is not the best starting point for strategic collaborations with top institutions and researchers throughout the EU.

The recession has led to severe cuts in resources that could be directed towards winning Horizon 2020 contracts and as a result, Horizon 2020 participation by Greek research institutions and SMEs is far below the actual capabilities of the Greek R&I community.

There is the strong indication of a fragmented presence in H2020 projects, thus perpetuating the difficulty of maintaining a coordinated and persistent presence.

How do you feel further collaboration and funding will specifically benefit your region?

Current Horizon 2020 participation levels by Greek entities indicate that there is a significant research potential in the region waiting to be unleashed. I strongly believe that international collaboration, exchange of knowledge and adoption of best practices is perhaps the single most important contributing factor to get Greece back on its feet and allow the exploitation of its significant R&I potential, for the benefit of economy and society.

Yet, paraphrasing the famous JFK quote, I often say to persons and organisations trying to benefit from the European Research and Innovation funding framework: Ask not what Horizon 2020 can do for you, ask what you can do for Horizon 2020.

The moment you clarify how you can add value to the European Research and Innovation ecosystem, the very same moment you will know how you can benefit from existing funding and collaboration opportunities.

Teslianum: Bringing up the Western Balkan Region

On behalf of Vision2020: The Horizon Network, I'd like to present the first article in a series of interviews with some of our most active members.

Today, I'd like to welcome Mirjana Prljevic, the Owner and General Manager of TESLIANUM Ltd. Having founded TESLIANUM in 1993, and with offices in Belgrade and Paris, Mirjana has over 20 years of experience in strategic positioning.

In addition, Mirjana has been a guest lecturer at several universities, including the London School of Commerce, Harvard, BIMBA-Beijing International MBA, Antai College Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Moscow Higher School of Economics, and several others.

Her book The Strategy of Positioning as a Key to Success has been translated into seven languages. Mirjana is also a columnist for the Forbes China magazine and has an impressive amount of experience in the domains of Global Strategic Positioning, Sustainable Country Development, New Economic diplomacy, and Energy efficiency. You can find more on www.prljevic.com.

I spoke with Mirjana recently regarding her experience so far with the Vision2020 initiative and how we can work together to increase the amount of Horizon 2020 funding flowing into the Western Balkan region. 

By Cais Jurgens

Hi Mirjana, thanks for joining us. How did you first come across Vision2020?

I first heard about the benefits of becoming a member of Vision2020 from the Brussels office of Horizon 2020 program DG R&D. From there, I wrote to them and expressed interest in becoming a member of this remarkable business- and academia-based family.

The first time I met with Vision2020 staff was in Belgrade at a Workshop organised by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The second was at Cardiff University at a Vision2020 Energy Helix event. It was then, I must say, that I recognised the potential for a strategic partnership between their network and the Western Balkan Region.

Since then, we've helped several very interesting and prominent businesses become members of Vision2020, including Energoprojekt, one of the biggest companies in Serbian industry, RADEI – Regional Development Agency for European Integration of Belgrade and ECS – An Executive Car Service from the SME sector. 

You recently held a week of events with Vision2020 staff in Belgrade. What would you say was achieved during that week?

Sending the right message to Serbian and Western Balkan Region potential members regarding how to be successful in applications for different program funds of Horizon 2020 can be a very challenging activity. 

Academics and experts from our University and research organisations, SMEs, and big industrial corporates possess a huge interest in participating in Horizon 2020 programs. I was very pleased to recommend to the potential partners in attendance over the course of that week that Vision2020 is the number one partner in this domain.

During a recent meeting in Belgrade with Vision2020 co-founders Abdul Rahim and Michael Browne, we took note of this ever growing interest, as well as the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done to get the West Balkan Region more involved, and went from there.

Furthermore, we felt a strong amount of goodwill from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Belgrade, on behalf of Dean, PhD Radivoje Mitrovic, and State Secretary of Government of The Republic of Serbia, PhD Vladimir Popovic, to establish a group of technical faculties – as a smaller Serbian consortium – which can then be a part of a much larger collaboration effort, once they become full members.

The Helixes on Vision2020's networking platform, Crowdhelix, for which they expressed the most interest are Materials, Manufacturing, Energy, Digital, and Climate. It is my hope that they'll be able to find a number of relevant collaborators within these Helixes and successfully apply for funding. 

What do you hope to accomplish by partnering with Vision2020?

For the moment, work-packages or project coordination activities are not the priority. What is important is finding the appropriate partners within the network to exploit the huge potential of Serbia and other countries in the region. 

As soon as we identify goals and the interests of our members in the Western Balkan region, and work to get more Horizon 2020 projects to Serbia and the rest of the region, we will be stronger as a strategic partner with Vision2020. Overall, that is my goal for the coming year. 

We have an opportunity to offer some incredibly interesting opportunities for collaboration between industry, experienced professors and young researchers desperate for funds.

For me, this is one of the most valuable contributions that Vision2020 makes through the different Helix consortiums. Regarding Teslianum, and how we go about choosing partners, we are certain to give our very best to secure membership only for members that possess, in my opinion, excellence as a trademark of their business activities.

What are some of the struggles your region has faced in the past when attempting to collaborate within Horizon 2020 for the purpose of winning funding?

Serbia and other countries of the Western Balkans region have really suffered a lot in the last few decades, especially, through an enormous exodus of the young and well-educated people.

We are lacking people who work intensively on EU programs, which as you know, is not an easy way to secure funds due to different conditions, different applications, different portfolios for the consortium membership, different strategies, etc.

From the Danube strategy projects to the IPA and IPARD, from the Ionic-Adriatic strategy the right to Horizon 2020, it is not easy for companies, for the government, local municipalities, or for SME's.

Different stakeholders have begun to understand in the last two years that we need to cultivate an integral approach to the different industrial and economic challenges. From targeted ones, such as agriculture and infrastructure projects, to energy and telecommunications.

Regarding Horizon 2020 programs, we have several evaluators, but not so many projects where Serbian organisations have had the opportunity to be project leaders, but much more often as coordinators or WP managers. Now, with more focus and with more integrality at the same time, our struggles, I hope, will be more technical and operational than strategic.

How do you feel further collaboration and funding will specifically benefit your region?

As I said, we need more knowledge and best practice examples to see and understand. Vision2020 is the right network and Crowdhelix is the best platform for finding the right partners for our projects, as well as the experienced people needed on applications. But perhaps, most important of all, we'll have more information on how to successfully apply for Horizon 2020 funding, and I'm looking forward to seeing the benefits in accordance with our efforts.