The polymer chemists, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, may be aware of the institutional Central and East European Polymer Network (CEEPN). CEEPN was established in 2005 with the goal to create the network, which would be beneficial to the polymer scientists of academic institutions and universities in this part of Europe. More information about the mission of CEEPN can be found on the CEEPN webpage: www.ceepn.org.
This year an annual meeting of CEEPNwas organized on January 22, 2011 at the Scientific Station of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Vienna. The following directors of polymer institutes participated in the meeting in the capacity of CEEPN national representatives: Prof. Béla Iván (Hungary, president of CEEPN in 2010), Prof. Bogdan Simionescu (Romania), Prof. Andrzej Dworak (Poland), Prof. Marek Kowalczuk (Poland, general secretary of CEEPN), Prof. Majda Zigon (Slovenia), Prof. Igor Lacík (Slovakia, president of CEEPN in 2011). Some of the representatives who could not participate, i.e. Dr Frantisek Rypacek (Czech Republic), Prof. Koljo Troev (Bulgaria) and Prof. Yuri Saveljev (Ukraine), submitted their addresses and reports. A distinguished guest, Prof. Janusz Jurczak (Poland) — member of the Presidium of the Polish Academy of Sciences,was also present at the meeting.
The directors of polymer institutes exchanged the information about the current situation and vision for the future of their research organizations. Central and East European countries are still in the transition period with the impact on all parts of the society, including the situation in science, research and education. It is apparent that the condition of science in all Central and East European countries is still critically influenced by the decisions of politicians, which is seen as unhelpful sign for the present as well as for the future perspective. To a various degree and depending on the country, overall there is still a lack of stability regarding funding and systematic support from industry, both being the crucial conditions required for sustainable and competitive research. The EU Structural Funds offer a unique possibility of improving the infrastructure, nevertheless, these funds represent an enormous administrative burden and cannot be understood as the systematic means to shift science, research and education to the required level. This situation is also valid for the polymer chemistry in this region.
Photo: Signing the agreement on the establishment
of a Joint Polish Romanian Laboratory ADVAPOL
(from left: Prof. Prof. Bogdan Simionescu, Janusz Jurczak, Andrzej Dworak)
It would be overambitious to predict when the conditions for research work in Central and Eastern Europe will be comparable to those in West European countries or in the United States. The CEEPNwas established to assist the transition process by using a combined expertise and strength of the institutions joined in this network.
Historically, the polymer science in Central and Eastern Europe is on a high level and CEEPN can help to build both on traditions and on recent developments. There are numerous working contacts between the polymer institutes within CEEPN; these contacts were summarized by Prof. Iván in his presentation.However, CEEPN activities should be strengthened in order to utilize the potential of the CEEPN institutions more effectively. Several strategic steps were presented by Prof. Lacík towards a more vital network in planning the activities for the year 2011. The main focus is to increase the level of networking with the awareness of opportunities for work as well as planning the scientific career especially for PhD students and young post-docs. The activities of CEEPN in 2011 can be summarized in the following points: The role of CEEPN should be increased both inside and outside the network. The scientists in the institutions creating the CEEPN should be aware of the usefulness and the potential of CEEPN. CEEPN will make efforts to join the European Polymer Federation in order to increase the recognition of CEEPN among the European polymer scientists in general.The CEEPN webpage should be the place providing the useful information exchange in the form of databases with respect to expertise and projects, available equipment, events and conferences, positions, etc. The ambition is that this will create the natural exchange of experts, students and knowledge between the institutes. CEEPN will try to identify the proper calls within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with the goal to create the conditions for collaboration within the CEEPN network on a financial basis. The polymer institutes will be encouraged to establish the cooperation on the financial basis using national calls based on agreements between governments for bilateral and multilateral collaboration.
One example is the joined Polish–Slovak laboratory SYNADPOL created between the Polymer Institute SAS in Bratislava (Slovakia) and The Centre of Polymer and Carbon Materials PAS in Gliwice (Poland). A similar agreement was signed during the meeting in Vienna between The Centre of Polymer and Carbon Materials PAS in Gliwice and the Petru Poni Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in Iasi (Romania). The CEEPN representatives believe that networking via CEEPN will be valuable for the progress in the polymer research in our countries. An inevitable outcome from the CEEPN is seen also in sharing the experiences from each participating institution in this transition period.
The CEEPN is considered as a suitable platform and partner for discussions with those who make decision about the presence and the future of science. The leading line for such discussions is that the investment in science is the natural investment in the future.
Prof. Igor Lacík, President of CEEPN, Director of Polymer Institute SAS in Bratislava, Slovakia