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Young scientists recognized in the XIV edition of the LIDER program

SCIENCEYoung scientists recognized in the XIV edition of the LIDER program

41 young scientists have been awarded a combined funding of 70 million zlotys for their original research projects as a result of the fourteenth edition of the LIDER program, carried out by the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR) funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. During the celebratory Gala, deputy prime minister, minister of digitization Dr. Krzysztof Gawkowski, deputy minister of Science and Higher Education prof. Dr. hab. Ing. Marek Gzik, and the acting director of NCBR, Prof. Dr. hab. Ing. Jerzy Małachowski presented the laureates of the program with commemorative diplomas and symbolic checks.

“At the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, we are aware that science is the foundation of economic success. It is from science that technologies emerge, which later, when implemented in the market, increase the competitiveness of the economy. That’s why I am particularly pleased to be able to participate in the success of promising young scientists, whose thinking is focused on the practical application of the results of their own scientific research,” said Prof. Dr hab. Ing. Marek Gzik, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education.

The main objective of the LIDER Program, initiated in 2009, is to improve competencies in the field of independent planning, management, and leadership of a research team, by carrying out research projects whose results can have practical applications and possess implementation potential. LIDER creates a strong foundation for strengthening the competitiveness of Polish science and a new generation of Polish scientists at the European and global scale.

“In the fourteenth competition for NCBR support, 364 researchers applied. Out of these, experts selected 41 projects for funding. This shows on the one hand the high scientific and implementation value these projects must have to obtain funding, and on the other hand, the prestige the program has gained over fourteen years of its implementation,” pointed out Prof. Dr Ing. Jerzy Małachowski, the acting director of NCBR.

As a result of the fourteenth edition of the LIDER Program, funding was awarded to 41 women and men leaders, for a total amount of 70 million zlotys. The maximum amount of funding that could be obtained for a single project was 1.8 million zlotys.

Projects with potential

The highest-rated project in the fourteenth competition was “Developing an effective technology for the production of pyocyanin”, submitted by Dr. Ing. Adrian Augustyniak from the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin. Dr. Augustyniak is a biotechnologist specializing in microbiology, who developed a way to stimulate bacteria to produce substances useful in industry and agriculture. He received 1.24 million zlotys in funding to implement his idea.

“In the project, we will be developing a production system that will allow us to obtain even five times more pyocyanin compared to the traditional method. Pyocyanin is a molecule produced by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium. The bacterium uses it to defend itself against other microorganisms, and we will be able to use it to protect plants against pests, especially bacteria and fungi. We will thus gain a completely natural tool that will protect crops in agriculture and horticulture. Additionally, the method of producing pyocyanin according to our idea will drastically reduce its cost. Today, it is precisely these production costs that significantly limit its practical use on a large scale,” explains the project’s assumptions by Dr. Ing. Adrian Augustyniak.

The conducted research shows that the implementation of the LIDER Program contributes to the development of its laureates: both their competencies and scientific careers. The implementation of a project within the LIDER Program influences the expansion of the portfolio of works of young scientists with applied works. At the same time, young scientists gain competencies and experience that enable them to apply for support for more advanced research and development projects.

“The LIDER Program will have a significant and positive impact on the research capabilities of our team. It will not only provide funding and employment stability at the university, but also enable the practical implementation of a significant idea for the economy. Besides the scientific side, the implementation of the project will also be an excellent platform for personal development and building a dynamic research and development team. The LIDER Program is therefore a great tool for building scientific independence among a group of young scientists,” says Dr. Ing. Augustyniak about the support obtained from the program.

Laureates of the fourteenth edition

Out of the people who were declared the winners of the competition – the Leaders in the fourteenth competition, 27 projects (66%) are led by men, and 14 projects (34%) are led by women. The average age of the applicants and laureates of the fourteenth edition is about 33 years. The youngest laureate of the current edition is 27 years old, and the oldest is 42 years old.

From the perspective of the advancement of a scientific career, one can say that the people who are laureates of the Program are mostly already established scientists with at least several years of research work experience, on the path to scientific independence. The vast majority of applicants and Leaders of winning projects had a doctoral degree (83%). Only one Leader is a habilitated doctor. The average size of the team implementing the project is 6.2 people (median is 6 people). The largest team has 13 members, while the smallest consists of only two people. Almost all of the projects have been planned for three years, which is the maximum possible duration of implementation. The topics of the chosen projects in the LIDER Program are dominated by engineering and technical sciences. In the current edition, projects of this nature account for 83% of all funded projects. The next most popular field was natural and agricultural sciences (each with 7% of winning projects).

Nearly all projects are carried out in scientific units. In the rankings, technical universities (22 projects) lead the way, like in previous years. In all of these universities collectively, 54% of projects are being implemented. 6 projects are being conducted at universities. Another 12 in research institutes, including 5 projects in institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and 5 in institutes within the Łukasiewicz Research Network. Hosting the project for one project is a foundation. The highest success rate was attributed to the projects affiliated with PAN units, universities, and the Łukasiewicz Research Network.

Regarding the geographical distribution of the centers hosting the laureates of the fourteenth edition of the LIDER Program, there is a clear concentration in 3 scientific centers in Poland: Warsaw (12 laureates), Krakow (6 laureates), Wroclaw (5 laureates), and then Lublin (3 laureates). Winning applications came from units located mainly in large provincial cities with significant research centers. Like in the previous years, universities, mainly technical ones, still lead the way. A total of 68% of projects are being implemented in universities. The most projects came from the University of Technology: Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, and Lublin.

Fifteenth edition ongoing

The NCBR has already started receiving applications for funding in the fifteenth edition of the LIDER program, which will last until June 28. The competition is open to representatives of various scientific disciplines, with no thematic restrictions. Each submitted project must be carried out in cooperation with a unit (such as a university, institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, or institute operating within the Łukasiewicz Research Network) that will employ the project manager for the entire duration of the project and the remaining members of the research team for the duration of their work on the project. Up to 1.8 million zlotys can be obtained for research purposes. The total budget that NCBR will allocate for the support of scientists in the fifteenth LIDER competition is 80 million zlotys.

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