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Conference report: European Forum for Philanthropy and Research Funding Stakeholders Conference, Milan, Italy (2 December 2008)

17 December 2008

Organised by the European Foundation Center and its partners, this month’s “European Forum for Philanthropy and Research Funding" conference in Milan brought together key actors from Europe’s leading foundations and universities to discuss the benefits and challenges of partnerships in research.

The conference provided an opportunity to discuss the various forms such a partnership might take, how foundations might actively support universities in their fundraising efforts and what their role might be in achieving the objectives of the European Research Area.  Professor Giuseppe Silvestri, Permanent EUA Council Representative of the Conferenza dei Rettori delle Università Italiane, underlined in the opening panel the growing importance of partnerships in research and the increasingly significant role played by foundations in university funding portfolios.

Thomas Estermann, EUA Senior Programme Manager, presented recent trends in university funding and the accompanying challenges for universities. Underlining the positive strategic effects of enhanced partnerships he also pointed out the dangers inherent in an increase in competitive research funding. A growth in funding sources that do not cover the full costs of funded projects will enlarge universities’ funding gaps and endanger in the long run universities’ financial sustainability. This effect was identified in the recent report “Towards full costing in European universities”.  

In the concluding panel, Thomas Estermann was invited to discuss the findings of the day with key stakeholders. He emphasised the importance of acknowledging the diversity of Europe’s universities, and the necessity for national governments to adopt best practices from other countries in supporting and fostering universities' diversification of income streams, including those from philanthropic sources. This issue will be addressed by the EUA in its next project EUDIS.

European University Association (EUA)

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