Navigating Global Research: Aligning with International Priorities
Dec. 5, 2023—More governments worldwide are realizing the transformational power of research and dedicating time and resources to develop strategies to solve real-world problems. Often, these strategies include identified priorities by topic, like NSF’s 10 Big Ideas, Horizon Europe’s EU Missions, and UKRI’s strategic themes. By defining mutually advantageous goals, governments are helping researchers worldwide pursue research that will make an impact on society and gain government funding.
From wide, overarching priorities like the NSF’s Big Ideas, nearly every country has set research strategic research goals. Often, these overlap from country to country. For example, the EU Missions place a heavy emphasis on sustainability, aiming to address environmental challenges relating to soil, water, and climate-neutral cities, like UKRI’s strategic theme of building a green future. There are also variations between the priorities, like NSF’s 10 Big Ideas, which reflect the importance of science and engineering in addressing topics like quantum technology and the future of work at the human-technology frontier. While there are nuanced differences in goals, depending on their country of origin, they all push to advance foundational knowledge and develop solutions to address complex societal challenges.
Setting research goals and objectives is more than a means to raise awareness of governments’ dedication to certain issues and topic areas. Clearly demarcating the goalposts allows researchers to identify potential government funding to come. To effectively align with the research interests of government bodies, organizations must correlate their research strengths with the prevailing themes and goals. This alignment can increase the chances of securing funding for research, but in a larger sense, it’s an avenue to increase research impact and establish the organization as an influential contributor. For smaller organizations, concentrating efforts on a niche research area within one or more nationally identified topics can showcase expertise and potentially provide value as a partner in larger efforts. Engaging unique and diverse perspectives through multidisciplinary teams can ensure that solutions are inclusive and accessible.
Why it matters
Organizations should consider how national research goals can inform how they shape their research programs, either to leverage their existing strengths or to develop new initiatives. Alignment with global research priorities can provide organizations an avenue for government funding to augment their efforts, which could also extend the reach of research outcomes and expand their impact on addressing complex challenges.
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