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Where the heart is

At the height of the Cold war, both sides of the iron curtain prioritised science and technology as beacons of economic and political prowess. Each side invested heavily in science infrastructure and engaged in what ultimately became known as “the space race” to show that their power reached beyond the Earth itself.

But with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, many science academies and research councils in the newly independent eastern European countries fell into disarray. Although grant funding was adopted in place of state-led decisions on scientific priorities, many researchers fled what they perceived as oppressive and under-resourced academic environments.

Today, the disparity between the former communist states and their western counterparts is still evident. Even as the European Commission attempts to eliminate discrepancies through initiatives such as the €722-million Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation fund under Horizon 2020, a gap remains.

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