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Europe pushes for stronger research management

Image: Craig Nicholson for Research Professional News

Earma 2022: EU and research managers and administrators discuss schemes to bolster profession

Major initiatives to bolster research management across Europe are now being prepared, as the profession continues to push for greater recognition, the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators’ annual conference has been told.

Both Earma and the EU itself are looking at specific projects designed to strengthen and promote the profession.

“We need many more [research managers] to be successful as a research and innovation system,” Stijn Delauré (pictured, right), a European Commission policy officer, said at the conference in Oslo on 5 May.

He added that there was “a lack of recognition” of research management as a profession across Europe, as well as a lack of training or access to it.

His comments echoed those of Earma chair Evelina Brännvall, who earlier in the day complained that research managers are not valued in Europe.

Delivering on priorities

Delauré described a Research Management Initiative the Commission is planning as a way of delivering on what it hopes to gain from the EU’s European Research Area policy package, which aims to bring together research and researchers across the continent. The RMI would have four priorities: upskilling, recognition, networking to support exchange of best practice, and capacity building.

Last year, national governments in the Council of the EU agreed on 20 potential priority actions for the ERA, and Delauré said that the RMI would be a way of delivering on two of those if national governments approve them. The two actions are to promote attractive research careers and to enhance the strategic capacity of Europe’s research-performing organisations.

EU member state governments will decide by 30 June which of the ERA actions to take forward. Delauré said that the Commission has “no indication” at the moment of what member states are thinking.

If governments choose not to take forward the two actions by 30 June, they may be taken forward after 2024, he said, suggesting the RMI might have to be postponed until then.

Earma’s roadmap

In the same session at the conference, Nik Claesen (pictured, left), managing director of Earma, described a project the association is working on for which it has won EU funding. If all goes ahead as planned (the grant agreement has not yet been signed), then from June, Earma will work with other organisations in the academic sector on an initiative called the RM Roadmap.

Its objectives will include improving the definition of what research management is, boosting training for research managers and planning how the profession could contribute to the ERA.

All research managers would be welcome to contribute, Claesen said.

“It’s great the Commission is doing policy, but there’s a lot of bottom-up movement…really driven by our community” to bolster research management, he said.

Read more news from the conference on the Research Professional News Earma 2022 page.