REIs as a tool to boost interdisciplinary research, co-operation and attract human capital

REIs promote excellence in research by providing researchers with better opportunities to work across disciplines than in other research contexts. More than 90% of CoEs analysed in this study perform some type of interdisciplinary research, either within their own research field or cutting across the paradigms of other research fields.

Through interdisciplinary research, knowledge can be reshuffled to develop new scientific paradigms and innovations. CoEs funded by REIs engage in co-operation with other research bodies, either departments of the same host institution or external centres, to produce novel research that draws on different scientific backgrounds.

REIs enhance interdisciplinary research through the implementation of joint research activities but also by providing resources to attract talent with an interdisciplinary profile or to build interdisciplinary research teams where researchers with different backgrounds are pulled together with the objective of diversifying the research environment.

Unlike some traditional research funding schemes, REIs allow CoEs to have fast and flexible recruitment processes. CoEs’ administrative and funding flexibility allow them to offer, in some cases, professorships and tenure track positions with very attractive packages in terms of research facilities. This may enhance their ability to attract talented researchers from abroad and to build high-quality interdisciplinary research teams.

Researcher mobility (both within national boundaries and abroad) is essential for raising scientific discovery and increasing productivity. REIs make it easier for CoEs to attract top scientists and foreign talent through their generally flexible use of funds. Similarly, the “excellence” status and the higher visibility of CoEs’ scientific activity provide them with additional leverage to attract outstanding researchers from abroad either for temporary or permanent engagements. The intake of foreign researchers ultimately helps to form the long-run international linkages that foster innovation and knowledge creation at the international level.

Co-operation with the private sector is a fundamental driver of innovation and of its implementation. CoEs funded by REIs can establish new ties with the private sector or, when these ties already exist, strengthen them significantly. Co-operation between CoEs and the private sector leads to novel products and innovations and to their quicker and more efficient absorption by the market and final users.

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