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Centre for functional and surface-functionalized glasses

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FunGlass (Centre for functional and surface-functionalized glasses)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-08-31

FunGlass project aims to upgrade the original Centre of Excellence for ceramics, glass and silicate materials to internationally recognised Centre for Functional and Surface Functionalized Glass focusing on cutting edge research in the area of glass with special functional properties and functionalization of conventional glasses to modify their properties and add new functionalities. The update is realized in close collaboration with the partner institutions and their leading experts in glass science and technology in Europe. The FunGlass project key activities are dedicated to training and applied research with the goal to generate local know-how and highly competitive expertise, to educate coming generations of top skilled research personnel, and to actively pursue opportunities for establishing partnerships with leading European industrial and academic institutions.
A brief summary of the work done achieved for the period from 01/03/2017 to 31/08/2019:
1.The Centre was established and the following has been created: organizational structure, management structure, legal status as a new research facility with autonomy in academic and decision making issues. The Centre has created boards that provide guidance on prospective research topics of the Centre: International Advisory Board with accomplished researchers based outside Europe and Industrial Board with representatives of local and international glass industry.
2.Collaboration scheme for research infrastructure - Centre has already mapped research infrastructure of all partners and defined its needs for the upgrade of the existing research infrastructure (Centre finalizes procurement documents for RI investments financed from the complementary ERDF grant in the amount of €10.5 mil received in the 2nd RP). The “set of rules for management of advanced research facilities” was created on the basis of communication with consortium partners as well as examination of the GLP of top European institutes.
3.Creation of a training program – the Centre implements a training program for its researchers and PhD students:
-The plan of long-term training stays enhances personal capacities of the Centre focusing on cutting edge research topics and ability to operate advanced research facilities of the Centre. Following activities exploit valuable know-how of researchers that returned from training: joint research activities (joint publications, joint supervision of PhD students), preparation of inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral research proposals aimed to enhance innovation capacities of the Centre as well as presentation of the scientific results at conferences.
-Visiting professors/scientists program: modes of delivery included guest lectures, on site visits, one-week workshops, two-week workshops as well as short-term stay. Training activities were delivered by the recognised scientists from European and world glass research and academic institutions.
-FunGlass School was organized semi-annually. It is designed for researchers, technicians and administrative staff and it is divided into Scientific and Complementary skills sessions.
Enhancement of training activities within the scope of existing doctoral program:
-Infrastructure related training activities conducted in the framework of “Rules for management of advanced research facilities”, inclusion of PhD students into ongoing research projects, active participation at FunGlass School, English competence program, visiting scientist program, supplementary short-term training activities.
4.The Centre defined its needs in terms of long-term hiring and training numbers of research and administration staff, their requested expertise and skills. The number of staff increased from 16 employees/6 PhD students to 48 employees/13 PhD students. Recruitment for administrative positions was completed, recruitment for postdoc and technician positions had slow start, but at the moment it is in line with the schedule envisioned in GA. Recruitment for heads of departments was negatively affected by the low competitiveness of remuneration packages that reflect H2020 cost eligibility conditions. In terms of employee adaptation process, individual training plans have been created for all research staff members involving extensive internships targeting knowledge transfer from partner institutions.
5.Achievement of financial self-sufficiency has been an effort within which the Centre monitored funding opportunities for research topics from both national and international sources. Research activities have been realized also in cooperation with individual partners according to their expertise areas. One utility model has been filed at the Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic. The Centre improved its way of presentation and communication: the new logo and design were developed and new website created; the presentation video also helps to better communicate the research scope and direction.
Centre strives for excellence within all dimensions of its activities and we believe that the following aspects of its operations are examples of a progress beyond the state of the art: (i) the autonomous management structure: Rules of Organization mplement unique arrangement that: provides the Centre with autonomy in decision-making that corresponds to the status of the Faculty; respects provisions of Act no. 131/2002 on the Higher Education of the Slovak Republic, and establishes the Scientific Board (SB) as the highest decision-making authority of the Centre. The highest governing body includes all project partners’ representatives. (ii) Active involvement of advanced partners in development of personal capacities: creation of HR strategy, planning for the personal capacity building of the Centre and in the selection procedures. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of the Centre's personnel capacities is supported through training of newly-recruited researchers at partners. To this end the mapping of the needs for the training of students, young researchers and technicians of the Centre involved the creation and approval of 19 individual training plans. Each individual training plan defines training activities, describes the intended outcomes, and identifies mentors for these training dimensions: research infrastructure specific training; lectures; research activities; research papers and professional development competencies.

The impact of the implementation of the project can be recognised in the following areas:
-Scientific impact, and international recognition - higher number of scientific outputs published in peer-reviewed international journals and the conference proceedings.
-National and inter-regional level activities: As a result of campaign conducted in professional periodicals, organisations websites, and at international conferences, the Centre is already recognised by the international glass community. The Centre led by Prof. Galusek won in 2019 the ‘Scientific and technical team of the year’ award presented annually by the Ministry of Education.
-Industrial collaboration: The Centre noticed a significant increase of interest in collaboration with national and international industrial partners. This has been reflected in: opening of informal collaboration on utilization and processing of waste from glass production; signed contracts with Slovak industrial partners and preparation of new contracts with international industrial partners.