A program designed to boost investments in the scientific infrastructure of Europe's lagging regions by pairing them with elite institutes elsewhere on the continent has proved unexpectedly popular. The European Commission has received 169 scientific business plans for the scheme, dubbed Teaming, and may be able to advance only 16% of the proposals to the next round of the competition. The commission will start reviewing the proposals in Brussels next week.
“We were delighted," says commission spokesman Michael Jennings. "The response exceeded our expectations.” It also triggered an automatic 20% boost to the evaluation budget, according to an internal commission document obtained by ScienceInsider.
The €314 million scheme, hatched a few years ago, is a small part of Horizon 2020, the European Union's nearly €80 billion research funding program; the idea is to trigger the creation or rejuvenation of research facilities in 15 countries in the so-called Widening region of Europe, where scientific output is low, and eight associated member states. Regional governments can seek help from an established institute in remaining member states, most of them in Northern and Western Europe, to draw up a plan to start or revamp a science center.