Geoghegan-Quinn in US to boost scientific alliance

Thu, Jan 19, 2012, 00:00

THE EUROPEAN commissioner for research, innovation and science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is visiting Washington and Boston this week with a dual mission to strengthen scientific co-operation while seeking to stem the brain drain of European scientists to the US.

The former TD and three-time minister met Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s director of science and technology, on her first day in Washington.

She said Mr Obama and European Commission president José Manuel Barroso wanted the Transatlantic Economic Council to be “action-focused” on “making the world a better place, for scientists to deliver things that can help our health, help ICT, electro-mobility [electric vehicles] . . . The US and the EU have the same ideas to boost growth and create jobs”.

The US gives grants worth $220 million to 2,000 EU researchers every year. European spending is a combination of EU and bilateral projects, for which a comparable figure is not available.

“The brain drain is a very real problem for the EU,” Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said. “The best of EU brains are being enticed to work in the US.”

When she attended the Nobel Prize ceremony two years ago, one laureate spoke of the burden of EU bureaucracy. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn then sought the agreement of the College of Commissioners to dramatically simplify administration.