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Commission launches new expert group on philanthropic research funding

The European Commission has set up an expert group to investigate how universities could raise more funds from philanthropic sources such as foundations, trusts, charities, corporate and private donors and alumni. The creation of the group was a key recommendation of a confer...

The European Commission has set up an expert group to investigate how universities could raise more funds from philanthropic sources such as foundations, trusts, charities, corporate and private donors and alumni. The creation of the group was a key recommendation of a conference on the same subject which was held in Brussels in March 2006. The new group brings together representatives of foundations, universities and research bodies from across Europe. It is chaired by William Wakeham, Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton in the UK. Over the coming months, the group will analyse the situation in Europe and abroad and highlight good practices in terms of university fund-raising structures, managing relations with donors and public administration support. Based on this work, the experts will develop guidelines for the interactions of universities with private donors, based on concrete strategies and means for successful fundraising, and to define responsibilities in this regard of all actors involved. The group is expected to report on its findings by November 2007. Its work will be used by the European Forum on Philanthropy and Research Funding, which will be launched later this year by the European Foundation Centre with the support of the European Commission. The Commission itself is also likely to make use of the expert group's findings in the preparation of future initiatives. Philanthropy can be a major source of funding for research, and most European higher education institutions try to get funding from these sources. In the UK and Sweden over 16% of university research and development (R&D) expenditure comes from philanthropic grants, but elsewhere in the EU the picture is less rosy, with the average figure for the EU standing at just 4.2%. Mobilising all possible sources of funding is vital if the EU is to achieve its goal of spending 3% of GDP on research.

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