Written by Luisa Antunes
On 17 February 2023, a STOA delegation made up of two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Christian EHLER (EPP, Germany) and Ivo HRISTOV (S&D, Bulgaria), visited Science City Bahrenfeld, in Hamburg. The visit aimed to showcase the city’s science and research capabilities, and its contribution to the European Union’s research and innovation landscape. The delegation visited several institutions, including Universität Hamburg, DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron), CSSB (Centre for Structural Systems Biology), and start-up labs.
The day started with a welcome to HARBOR, the Hamburg Advanced Research Centre for Bioorganic Chemistry, by Prof. Dr Arwen Pearson. Then Prof. Dr Hauke Heekeren and a representative from DESY spoke about their institutions’ roles as central players in Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld.
The delegation then visited Light & Schools, where Prof. Dr Erika Garutti and Prof. Dr Klaus Sengstock welcomed the MEPs. The STOA delegation was given an overview of the physics programme at Universität Hamburg’s School Lab. Dr Eva Gümbel, State Councillor for Science, Research and Gender Equality, then formally welcomed the delegation to Hamburg.
The afternoon session began with a visit to CSSB, where the delegation was received by Prof. Dr Kay Grünewald, who gave a presentation on investigating the molecular mechanisms of infections. A lunch at CSSB was attended by guests from the University, DESY, BWFGB – the Hamburg state authority for science, research, equality and districts, and others, including CSSB and European XFEL (X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility).
The STOA delegation then took a tour of DESY’s PETRA III, receiving a short introduction to the facility before visiting the P11 beamline for molecular infection research and the P03 beamline for experiments with sustainable materials and energy. The delegation was also briefed on PETRA IV, a new era for the facility.
The visit concluded with a trip to Start-up Labs Bahrenfeld, an incubator for deep-tech start-ups. Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld was presented as a driver for innovation. The STOA delegation held informal discussions and met with young entrepreneurs and start-up founders, as well as key scientists and European Research Council (ERC) grant-holders.
The visit was also an opportunity to establish collaboration with the institutions, with a view to supporting cutting-edge research, fostering the development of highly skilled researchers, and driving progress in fields ranging from physics and mathematics to molecular biology and infectious diseases. In this context, Christian Ehler gave an overview of the various financing tools available through Horizon Europe, which will help support a new era of scientific discovery and innovation across Europe.
Horizon Europe is the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation for the 2021-2027 period, and it represents one of the most significant investments in research and innovation ever made by the EU. With a budget of over €95 billion, Horizon Europe provides a wide range of financing tools that can support collaborative research projects across Europe.
One of the most significant financing tools available through Horizon Europe is the European Research Council (ERC), which provides funding for innovative, high-risk research projects. The ERC is an independent organisation that operates under the auspices of the European Commission, and it supports cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields, from physics and mathematics to social sciences and humanities.
Another key financing tool under Horizon Europe is the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), which support the training and career development of researchers at all stages of their careers. MSCA provide funding for individual fellowships, research networks, and doctoral training programmes, and aim to foster the development of highly skilled and mobile researchers across Europe.
By establishing connections between the European Parliament and Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld, we can ensure that these funding opportunities are accessible to researchers across Europe and that they are effectively leveraged to support the next generation of scientific leaders and the most innovative and ambitious research projects across Europe. Promoting research partnerships with industry, supporting research infrastructure development and promoting international cooperation will be essential to ensuring the EU’s scientific leadership worldwide. In conclusion, the visit was an excellent opportunity for the European Parliament delegation to learn about Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld’s research infrastructure and its contribution to research and innovation in the EU. The importance of establishing collaborations between the European Parliament and Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld cannot be overstated. Through these collaborations, we can leverage the strengths of EU’s cutting-edge research, foster the development of highly skilled researchers, and drive progress in fields ranging from physics and mathematics to social sciences and humanities. With the financing tools available through Horizon Europe, these collaborations can help to support a new era of scientific discovery and innovation across Europe. The STOA delegation greatly appreciated the warm welcome and hospitality extended to them by the institutions they visited.