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FunGlass Report Summary

Project ID: 739566
Funded under: H2020-EU.4.a.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FunGlass (Centre for functional and surface-functionalized glasses)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

FunGlass project aims to upgrade the original Centre of Excellence for ceramics, glass and silicate materials (CEKSiM), 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 (prof. E. Bernardo, Universita degli Studi di Padova, Italy; prof. A. R. Boccaccini, Friedrich–Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany; prof. A. Durán - Instituto de Ceramica y Vidrio Madrid, Spain; prof. L. Wondraczek - Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena, Germany. 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. As such the Centre aspires to serve the regional, national and international communities of glass science and technology and thus to contribute towards addressing major societal challenges and industrial growth.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Summary of the work done and results achieved for the period 01/03/2017 - 31/05/2018 in the structure that corresponds to the objectives of the project:

1. The Centre was formally ESTABLISHED: its organizational and management structure. The Centre has created boards that provide insights and guidance on prospective research topics of the Center: 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 is being created. The Centre has already mapped research infrastructure of all partners and defined its needs for the upgrade of the existing research infrastructure (to be financed by the complementary funding from the Ministry of Education of Slovak Republic). This process includes intense communication with partners as well as examination of the best practices of other top European institutes.
3. CREATION of a TRAINING PROGRAM is under the development. The process of designing a training program included mapping of needs for the training of students, researchers and technicians of all participating institutions; creation of training curricula fitting selected research facilities; creation of individual training plans; mapping of funding opportunities for training, outside the budget of the project (MSCA ITN); launching of FunGlass School programand the visiting professors program.
4. The Centre defined its needs in terms of long-term HIRING and TRAINING numbers of both research and administration staff, their requested expertise and skills. Recruitment for administrative positions was successfully completed, recruitment for postdoc and technician positions had slow start, however, at the moment it is ahead of the schedule envisioned in the grant agreement. Recruitment for heads of departments was negatively affected by the low competitiveness of remuneration packages that reflect H2020 cost eligibility conditions (basic remuneration should be limited up to what is the beneficiary’s usual remuneration practice for national projects). In terms of training and employee adaptation process, individual training plans have been created for all research staff members involving extensive and specific internships targeting knowledge transfer from partner institutions. The Centre launched first steps in preparation of new study plans and curricula necessary for creation of international graduate school.
5. Achievement of FINANCIAL SRLF-SUFFICIENCY has been a continuous effort within which the Centre actively monitored funding opportunities for research topics from both national and international sources as well as from industrial collaboration and H2020 funding. Research and innovation activities performed in the Centre have been realized also in cooperation with individual partners according to their expertise areas. A utility model was in the process of submission at the Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic. In order to support activities aiming to reach financial self-sufficiency as well as team spirit, the Centre improved its way of presentation and communication: the new logo and design were developed and new website and presentation video created.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

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:

- The unique autonomous management structure of the FunGlass Center: Rules of Organization approved by the Academic Senate of TnUAD implement unique arrangement that: provides the Centre with autonomy in decision-making that corresponds to the status of the research Faculty; establishes the Scientific Board as the highest decision-making authority of the Centre. The highest governing body includes all project partners’ representatives, which guarantees direct participation of top European scientists in defining the strategy and directing the Centre activities.

- Active involvement of advanced partners in development of personal capacities of the Centre: Scientific Board members are directly involved in the creation of HR strategy, planning for the personal capacity building of the Centre and in the selection procedures (see discussion below). 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 13 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 (seminars/workshops); research activities; research papers and professional development competencies (grant proposals, presentations, project management, outreach/hiring activities, HRS4R, management of advanced research facilities, joint doctoral program, innovation management, industry collaboration...).

The IMPACT of the implementation of the FunGlass project can be recognised in the following areas:

1. SCIENTIFIC IMPACT and international recognition: Earlier than anticipated positive impact is reflected in the higher number of scientific outputs published in peer-reviewed international journals
2. NATIONAL and INTER-REGIONAL level ACTIVITIES: As a result of intensive publicity campaign conducted in professional periodicals, professional organisations (such as ICG) websites, and at international conferences, the Centre is already widely recognised by the international glass community, thanks to which it has been contacted by a number of academic research institutions with offers for collaboration.
3. INDUSTRIAL COLLABORATION: The Centre noticed a significant increase of interest in collaboration with national and international industrial partners.

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