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‘Widening’ label not helpful, warns Czech university leader

Earma 2023: Problem with widening countries being seen by others as ‘second-tier’

An EU initiative to support countries with low participation in their R&D programmes is unhelpful because it gives those countries second-tier status, a Czech university leader has warned.

The EU has a ‘widening’ initiative to build R&D capacity in countries “lagging behind”. It aims to address the phenomenon of so-called ‘widening countries’ generally receiving less funding from the bloc’s Horizon Europe research funding programme than others.

Ladislav Krištoufek, vice-rector for research at Charles University in Prague, said the widening initiative labels those countries as “second-tier”, which is a problem when it comes to non-widening countries investing in and collaborating with them.

Concern over impact on investment

On 25 April, Krištoufek (pictured right, with Research Professional News editor-in-chief Sarah Richardson) told 1,400 delegates at the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (Earma) conference in Prague, the Czech Republic that the widening initiative “means well”, but said the “tricky part is how it is perceived by non-widening countries”.

“If you are labelled as a widening country, then you are labelled as someone who is second tier, pretty much.

“And then the question is how much these tier one universities or research institutions are willing to invest into that if there is the label that demotivates them to cooperate with someone who is not their level.”

He called for all the countries under Horizon Europe to be treated as “equal”.

Research Professional News is media partner for the Earma 2023 conference in Prague. Read all the coverage here.