Dr. David Budtz Pedersen organized the session “Global Excellence: New Drivers and Innovative Solutions” at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Annual Meeting 2014, 13-17 February, Chicago. The session was held on Sunday 16 February, 10h00 AM – 11h30 AM (Hyatt Regency Chicago). The session featuredPresident of The European Research Council (ERC), Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Suzanne Fortier, President of Nanyang Technological University, Bertil Andersson and former Secretary-General of the Swedish Academy of Science, Gunnar Öquest.
Excellence in science has, time and again, changed our lives and our thinking. The quest for scientific excellence has become a global driver for scientific institutions. In virtually every country, governments, citizens, and industry look toward science to find solutions to the grand challenges of our time, including climate change, energy and food security, and sustainable resources. None of these solutions will be delivered without a comprehensive research capacity, including pioneering research and groundbreaking ideas. Yet, an important risk when addressing society’s need for solutions is the over-prescription and over-direction of research portfolios. There is a need to maintain flexibility and encourage creativity and disruptive thinking while recognizing the need for long-term investments. In consequence, a number of funding programs in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia have begun to support initiatives for scientific “excellence” that have the potential to radically transform the research frontier and advance the next generation of scientific leaders. This session explores some of the most promising strategies that the U.S., Canada, EU, and Asia have adopted to promote scientific excellence and top-quality research. Speakers will address questions about where global excellence is headed and how best to support and stimulate excellent innovative frontier science.