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European Science Foundation

European Science Foundation
Abbreviation ESF
Motto Setting Science Agendas for Europe
Formation 1974
Type NGO
Headquarters Strasbourg, France
Chief executive Professor Marja Makarow
Budget €52.8 million (2008)
Staff 104
ESF headquarters in Strasbourg.

The European Science Foundation (ESF) is an association of 72 member organizations devoted to Strasbourg, France (headquarters), and in Brussels and Ostend, Belgium.

The ESF Member Organisations are research-performing and research-funding organisations, academies and learned societies across Europe. Together they represent an annual funding of about €25 billion.

The European Science Foundation awards the annual European Latsis Prize.


  • Activities 1
    • Science strategy 1.1
    • Science synergy 1.2
    • Science management 1.3
  • Position paper on climate change 2
  • ESF-EUROHORCs vision on European Research Area 3
  • Structure 4
    • Governing bodies 4.1
  • ESF Member Organisations 5
  • ESF Chief Executives 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes and references 8
  • External links 9


The ESF provides a platform for foresighting and research networking on a European and global scale to the ESF member organisations. The ESF activities are organised around three operational bases: strategy, synergy and management. According to its mission and strategic plan, the European Science Foundation runs foresighting programmes in science; programmes to enhance science synergy such as research networking programmes and collaborative research projects for European scientists; and activities dedicated to science management, such as providing administrative services to independent scientific committees and other organisations.

Science strategy

Science strategy activities seek to foresight and advice on science, research infrastructure and science policy issues. They include:

  • Forward Looks are medium to long-term authoritative studies on science perspectives in broad areas of research and development. Forward Look reports assists policy makers and researchers in defining optimal research agendas and in setting priorities. Examples of completed Forward Look exercises include Investigator clinical trials,[1][2] European food systems in a changing world,[3][4][5] and Nanosciences and the Long Term Evolution of Information Technology.[6]
  • Exploratory Workshops are small group sessions aimed at opening up new directions of research and exploring emerging frontier areas with potential impact on new developments in science. The workshops have wide participation from across Europe and involve leading scientists as well as young and independent researchers. In 2008 ESF organised 54 Exploratory Workshops across all fields of science and humanities.
  • Members Organisations Fora are issue-related venues for the ESF Member Organisations (and others as appropriate) to develop joint actions on topics of broad relevance. These actions may lead to establishing common procedures, cooperative activities or best practices and benchmarks. Currently, there are 7 ongoing MO Fora, 2 Fora have been completed:
    • Research Integrity
    • Peer Review
    • Research Careers
    • Medium-Sized Research Infrastructures
    • Science in Society Relationship
    • Evaluation of Publicly Funded Research
    • Evaluation: Indicators of Internalisation
    • Evaluation of Funding Schemes and Research Programmes(Completed)
    • Promoting Internalisation of Social Sciences in Central and Eastern Europe(Completed)
  • Science Policy Briefings deliver position statements and recommendations on various science policy issues (e.g. ethical use of animals in research, the use of human cells). The reports are intended to target the ESF stakeholders, governments, European Commission, other international agencies, industry and academia. Recent SPBs include Impacts of Ocean Acidification,[7] and Advancing Systems Biology for Medical Applications[8][9]
  • The EUROHORCs and ESF Vision on a Globally Competitive ERA and their Road Map for Actions to Help Build it, which set out joint EUROHORCs and the ESF vision for future globally competitive European Research Area (ERA) and the essential requirements to be fulfilled within the next 5–10 years.[10][11]

Science synergy

Science synergy instruments aim to stipulate dialogue and cooperation between researchers, and to implement European-level research:

  • EUROCORES (European Collaborative Research scheme) enable researchers in different European countries to develop collaboration in areas where European scale and scope are required. For national research funding and research performing agencies EUROCORES makes it possible to support transnational research project involving several partners by synchronising funding decisions at national level. It also enables to develop collaborative research in areas of common strategic priority. EUROCORES programmes consist of around six collaborative research projects working on subtopics of the main theme. It is a bottom-up programme where research topics and other issues are identified by scientists. The programmes have so far generated hundreds of peer reviewed publications including articles in high-impact journals such as Science and Nature. Recent research achievements include:
    • William Patterson, from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and his colleagues have shown that switching off the North Atlantic circulation can force the Northern hemisphere into a mini ‘ice age’ in a matter of months. Previous work has indicated that this process would take tens of years.(BOREAS (Histories from the North - environments, movements, narratives)),[12][13][14][15]
    • Research findings of researchers involved in OMLL (Origin of Man, Language and Languages) programme confirmed that early humans were consistently wearing and potentially trading symbolic jewellery as early as 80,000 years ago.[16] The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA[17]
  • Research Networking Programmes (RNP) are 4-5 year network projects, accompanied by exchange grants and short term visits for scientists. They allow networking and international collaboration between nationally funded research groups. Research achievements include that RNP European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA), received in 2008 the Descartes Prize for Research.[18] The project showed that the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years[19][20]
  • ESF Research Conferences are a conference series on selected topics together with a European partner as co-funder. The instrument activities also include world conferences (ESF-JSPS Frontier Science Conferences for Young Researchers) and series of summer and winter schools providing advanced scientific training in physics. The ESF Research Conferences currently cover: biomedicine, chemistry, environmental sciences, humanities, interdisciplinary natural and social sciences, mathematics, molecular biology at the interface with other disciplines, physics/biophysics, social sciences. In 2008 there were 26 conferences organised by the ESF.

The ESF conferences unit is located in Brussels with a liaison base in Strasbourg.

Science management

Science management activities include management of the EU Framework Programme ERA-NETs scheme and provision of the management structure and administration for the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST). The ESF managed ERA-NETs involve (among others) also European Research Icebreaker Consortium –AURORA BOREALIS (ERICON-AB), a project to build the most advanced research vessel in the world, with year-round operational capability and state-of-the-art technology and laboratory equipment. The ESF European Polar Board is managing and coordinating authority of the project.

Position paper on climate change

In 2007, the Marine Board-ESF issued a position paper on climate change in which they stated, "There is now convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases have become a major agent of climate change. These greenhouse gases affect the global climate by retaining heat in the troposphere, thus raising the average temperature of the planet and altering global atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns." The paper concluded, "While on-going national and international actions to curtail and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are essential, the levels of greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere, and their impact, are likely to persist for several decades. On-going and increased efforts to mitigate climate change through reduction in greenhouse gases are therefore crucial."[21]

ESF-EUROHORCs vision on European Research Area

In June 2008, ESF in collaboration with EUROHORCs (European Heads of Research Councils) published a policy briefing ‘The EUROHORCs and ESF Vision on a Globally Competitive ERA and their Road Map for Actions to Help Build it’,[22] detailing essential requirements to build a globally competitive European Research Area within the next five to ten years. These requirements are complemented by a Road Map which outlines concrete actions for EUROHORCs, ESF member organisations and partners.

The plan would merge the informal EUROHORCS organization of national research council chiefs with the ESF to create a high-profile lobbying organization called

  • European Science Foundation
  • Information Centre on EUropean Institutions in Strasbourg
  • 4th ESF Conference on Functional Genomics and Disease 2010
  • European Energy Conference

External links

  1. ^ Strengthen clinical trials driven by investigators, Europe research councils say, BMJ 2009;338:b1111
  2. ^ Better Health and Prosperity in Europe via Improved Clinical Research, ESF press release
  3. ^ Change advocated for the European food system, 23 September 2009
  4. ^ Change advocated for the European food system, CORDIS 22 September 2009
  5. ^ Leading Scientists Call For a New Approach to Food Security, ESF press release
  6. ^ European Science Foundation's Forward Look reaches out beyond the endless frontiers, 15 December 2009
  7. ^ European Science Foundation (ESF) Science Policy Briefing #37 on the “Impacts of Ocean Acidification”, POGO Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans
  8. ^ Key to future medical breakthroughs is systems biology Innovations report, 6 January 2009
  9. ^ Key to future medical breakthroughs is systems biology, say leading European scientists ESF press release
  10. ^ EUROHORCs-ESF Commit to Play Key Role in Shaping a Competitive ERA ESF press release
  11. ^ ESF and EUROHORCs set out joint vision for European Research Area CORDIS 27 June 2008
  12. ^ Climate change catastrophe took just months, Times Online, 15 November 2009
  13. ^ Climate change: Gulf stream collapse could be like a disaster movie,, 29 November 2009
  14. ^ Last Ice Age took just SIX months to arrive, Mail Online, 16 November 2009
  15. ^ Mini ice age took hold of Europe in months, New Scientists, 11 November 2009
  16. ^ 80,000 year old shells point to earliest cultural trend, ESF press release
  17. ^ Additional evidence on the use of personal ornaments in the Middle Paleolithic of North Africa, PNAS, 22 September 2009, vol. 106, no. 38, 16051-16056
  18. ^ EC press release
  19. ^ Ice cores unlock climate secrets, BBC News, 9 June 2004
  20. ^ CO2 'highest for 650,000 years' BBC News, 24 November 2005
  21. ^ pp. 7-10Impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment - Ecosystems ApproachMarine Board Position Paper
  22. ^ EUROHORCs, ESF commit to play key role in shaping a competitive ERA ESF press release, 25. June 2008
  23. ^ Clery, Daniel (1 April 2011). "European Researchers Want Granting Agency to Stay a Granting Agency". ScienceInsider. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  24. ^ Clery, Daniel (5 May 2011). "European Science Foundation Members Fumble Merger Plans". ScienceInsider. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  25. ^ "Professor Marja Makarow becomes new CEO for the European Science Foundation". ESF. 3 January 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2008. 
  26. ^ Marja Makarow, chief executive, European Science Foundation, Strasbourg, France, Nature 452, 1030 (23 April 2008)
  27. ^ "The European Science Foundation elects Pär Omling as new President at its Assembly, Martin Hynes appointed as new Chief Executive". ESF. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 

Notes and references

See also

  • 1974-1979 Lord Flowers
  • 1980-1984 Hubert Curien
  • 1985-1990 Eugen Seibold
  • 1991-1993 Umberto Colombo
  • 1994-1999 Sir Dai Rees
  • 2000-2005 Reinders van Duinen
  • 2006-2007 Ian Halliday
  • 2007 John Marks
  • 2008–2011 Marja Makarow[25][26]
  • 2012- Martin Hynes[27]

ESF Chief Executives

United Kingdom



  • Forskningsrådet för arbetsliv och socialvetenskap (FAS)(Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research)
  • Forskningsrådet för miljö, areella näringar och samhällsbyggande (FORMAS)(Swedish Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning)
  • Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)
  • Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien (Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities|Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities)
  • Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation)
  • Vetenskapsrådet (VR)(Swedish Research Council)
  • Verket för innovationssystem (VINNOVA) (Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems)


  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)(Council for Scientific Research)
  • Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología (CICYT)(Interministerial Committee on Science and Technology)


  • Javna agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike Slovenije (ARRS)(Slovenian Research Agency)
  • Slovenska Akademija Znanosti in Umetnosti (SAZU)(Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
  • Slovenska Znanstvena Fundacija (SZF)(Slovenian Science Foundation)


  • Slovenská Akadémia Vied (SAV)(Slovak Academy of Sciences)
  • Agentúra na podporu výskumu a vývoja (APVV)(Slovak Research and Development Agency)

Slovak Republic


  • Academia das Ciências de Lisboa (Lisbon Academy of Sciences)
  • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)(Foundation for Science and Technology)




  • Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)(Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research)


  • Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR)(National Research Fund)


  • Lietuvos Mokslo Taryba (LMT) (Research Council of Lithuania)




  • RANNIS(Icelandic Centre for Research)


  • Magyar Tudományos Akadémia (MTA)(Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
  • Országos Tudományos Kutatási Alapprogramok (OTKA)(Hungarian Scientific Research Fund)





  • Suomen Akatemia/Finlands Akademi (Academy of Finland)
  • Suomen Tiedeakatemiain Valtuuskunta/Delegationen för Vetenskapsakademierna i Finland (Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters)



  • Forsknings- og Innovationsstyrelsen (FIST)(Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation)

The secretarial functions for all five Danish research councils are assumed by:

  • Danmarks Grundforskningsfonden (DG)(Danish National Research Foundation)
  • Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab(Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters)
  • Det Frie Forskningsråd - Kultur og Kommunikation (FKK)(The Danish Council for Independent Research - Humanities)
  • Det Frie Forskningsråd - Sundhet og Sygdom (FSS)(The Danish Council for Independent Research - Medical Sciences)
  • Det Frie Forskningsråd - Natur og Univers (FNU)(The Danish Council for Independent Research - Natural Sciences)
  • Det Frie Forskningsråd - Samfund og Erhverv (FSE)(The Danish Council for Independent Research - Social Sciences)
  • Det Frie Forskningsråd - Teknologi og Produktion (FTP)(The Danish Council for Independent Research - Technology and Production)


Czech Republic

  • Ίδρυμα Προώθησης Έρευνας (RPF)(Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation)


  • Hrvatska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti (HAZU) (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
  • Nacionalna zaklada za znanost, visoko skolstvo i tehnologijski razvoj Republike Hrvatske (NZZ) (The National Foundation of Science, Higher Education and Technological Development of the Republic of Croatia)


  • Българска академия на науките (BAS) (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)
  • Научни изследвания (National Science Fund of Bulgaria)




ESF Member Organisations

The Science Advisory Board provides advices to the chief executive on strategic science issues and on key ESF instruments (EUROCORES, Forward Looks). It is composed of chairs of the ESF five standing committees and six independent members, who are chosen from nominations by member organisations.

The chief executive is responsible for the implementation of the strategy and policy set by the Governing Council, for administration of the ESF office and its finance and for ensuring the execution of the decision of the assembly and the Governing Council. At present the ESF chief executive is Marja Makarow.

The president officially represents the ESF to the public and in relations with other national or international organisations. Currently the ESF president is Ian Halliday, serving his second term in the office (2009–2011).

The Governing Council sets and direct the overall strategy of the ESF. It establishes standing and expert committees and coordinates the relations with EU and other institutions. The council consists of the ESF president, two vice-presidents and a representative from each 'national group' of member organisations. The council meets twice a year.

The annual assembly is the highest level decision making body of the ESF. It elects the ESF president, vice-presidents and the chief executive, ratifies the budget and accounts and admits new members. The assembly delegates are appointed by ESF member organisations.

Governing bodies

The activities of ESF science units are coordinated by ESF director of science and strategy development. Under his remit fall also science policy and science strategy issues. Since February 2009 the ESF director of science and strategy development is Marc Heppener.

  • Humanities unit
  • Medical sciences unit
  • Life, Earth and environmental sciences unit
  • Physical and engineering sciences unit
  • Social sciences unit
  • Space sciences unit
  • Polar sciences unit
  • Marine sciences unit (located in Ostend)

The ESF science units provide executive, managerial and secretarial functions for the standing committees and expert boards and committees:

  • Marine Board - ESF([1])
  • European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC)
  • European Polar Board (EPB)
  • Committee on Radio Astronomy Frenquencies (CRAF)
  • Nuclear Physics European Collaboration Committee (NuPECC)
  • Material Science and Engineering Expert Committee (MatSEEC)
  • European Medical Research Councils (EMRC)
  • Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH)
  • Standing Committee for the Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences(LESC)
  • Standing Committee for Physical and Engineering Sciences (PESC)
  • Standing Committee for the Social Sciences (SCSS)

The ESF networking, foresighting and managing activities are carried through 5 scientific standing committees and 6 expert boards and committees:



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