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‘Money can’t solve everything’ for Ukrainian research

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Some destroyed research infrastructure might never be recovered, group warns

Money alone is unlikely to be able to rebuild all of Ukraine’s destroyed research infrastructure, a group supporting the academic community has warned.

A recent UN report found that it will cost more than US$1.26 billion (€1.15bn) to restore Ukraine’s public research infrastructure to the state it was in before Russia’s full-scale invasion two years ago.

But while money is needed, it will also take time—and some infrastructure may never be recovered, the Science for Ukraine group told Research Europe. “Money can only solve so much,” Michael Rose, coordinator and founding member of Science for Ukraine, said. “On the one hand, it allows to build back better, with more modern equipment…if the war finally stops. On the other hand, there is a form of research infrastructure that cannot be rebuilt.”

Rose, who is also a researcher at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, said that specialist equipment, specimens and self-made tools would not be easy to recover. “If these are destroyed, money cannot easily replace them,” he said. [They] might never be recovered. This will hurt…scientists for years to come.”

Meanwhile, Pavlo Bazilinskyy, a Ukrainian-born assistant professor at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, said he believes the UN figure is an understatement. He said that many academic institutions have had to relocate, making it hard to quantify the damage caused through a loss of human capital. 

“It may be a realistic number. But it’s also hard to assess, while the war is ongoing,” he said. 

This article also appeared in Research Europe