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Integrating regional research centres into the ERA

Concerted efforts are being made to enhance activities at regional centres that until recently were not a part of the European Research Area. An EU-funded project helped a Romanian science institute achieve the critical mass to spread excellence in knowledge-based multifunctional polymeric materials.
Integrating regional research centres into the ERA
The 'Romanian action for integrating, networking and strengthening the ERA Petru Poni Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry' (RAINS) project had as its main objective to support the integration of the 'Petru Poni' Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry (PPIMC) in the European Research Area (ERA).

the strategic objective was to raise the standards of research and technological development (RTD) in a specific research field nationally as well as through ongoing cooperation, partnership and exchange of expertise with similar EU institutions.

project partners established a coherent long-term development strategy for implementation at the PPIMC. This was done based on a self-evaluation report, evaluation reports performed by RAINS International Advisory Board members and a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of PPIMC activity following results of all reports. The outcomes, which were shared with PPIMC staff to raise awareness and commitment to implementation, strengthened the centre's research and networking policy and enabled the realisation of a number of accomplishments.

the PPIMC research portfolio was expanded to include modern research topics such as multifunctional (polymeric) materials, nanosized materials and multi-responsive polymeric materials based on natural and synthetic polymers for eco-friendly processes. Mutual exchanges of short-term research visits facilitated the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, while the centre's cooperation network was consolidated through new joint RTD projects. The expertise and skills of PhD students and young researchers were enhanced and the latter were given opportunities for placement in postdoctoral positions abroad.

beyond the PPIMC, connections with business media were strengthened, and the knowledge, skills and new equipment acquired were shared with regional partners.

efforts to improve research capacity focused on establishing EU accepted rules for the hiring of research staff, the design of new training curricula for PhD students, and training of PPIMC young scientists and PhD students on the use of new equipment and techniques.

activities aimed at promoting the centre and highlighting opportunities for participation in Framework Programmes were promoted through the launch of a website and the organisation of various on-site dissemination seminars and workshops.

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