Just a quick appraisal of the list of the world’s greatest scientists, engineers and mathematicians and recipients of Nobel Prizes in these fields shows how many originated from European countries. Apart from the benefits to mankind of any new discoveries, the financial contributions of the EU and European Fund reflect how important research and development is for the economy of European countries. Other funding comes from private investors and academic institutions.
To ensure that economic benefits are as widespread as possible, the headquarters of different agencies are deliberately based in different member states. So, for example, the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) is in Budapest, Hungary while the European Space Agency has its main headquarters in Paris, France. Apart from these main headquarters, research is conducted in other cities and facilities in the continent.
What is the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)?
Based on the role model of the MIT in the United States, the EIT was founded in 2008. Apart from its main headquarters, three main Knowledge & Innovation Communities (KICs) were set up across the continent. Therefore, some of the centres for sustainable energy are based in universities in Krakow, Karlsruhe and Grenoble; centres for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation include sites in London, Zurich, Paris and Berlin while Future Information & Communication Society include centres in Stockholm and Helsinki.
All of the centres conduct both independent and collaborative research work to advance knowledge in their chosen fields of endeavour.
The Work of CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research)
Set up in 1954, the CERN site in Geneva boosts the world’s biggest particle physics laboratory and has 23 member states. Apart from employing 2,500 scientific, technical and administrative staff, the site welcomes around 12,000 visiting scientists every year. Among its many ground-shaking discoveries has been the 1983 discovery of W and Z bosons.
CERN is important for another reason. Tim Berners-Lee helped create the first World Wide Web (based on hypertext) in order to facilitate information-sharing between different researchers. His decision not to copyright his invention opened up the internet to grateful people across the globe. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the world without it. From online shopping to social media and personal loans, this invention shows how many of the world’s greatest inventions are a side-effect of other research work. Borrowers can now apply for personal loans online from the comfort of their own home, without stress and wasting time.
The Role of the European Space Agency (ESA)
With a staff of 2,200, the ESA was set up in 1975 and has an annual budget of 5.6 billion euros. Although it isn’t an official EU body, it receives EU funding as well as annual contributions from its 22 member states. The ESA is committed to using space exploration to advance human knowledge and to use any discoveries it makes for purposes of peace.