BMBF and JINR develop new cooperation format

News, 04 July 2020

On 1 July 2020, the 26th regular meeting of the Coordination Committee on the implementation of the Agreement between the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and JINR was held. The event was devoted to the development of a new cooperation format.

JINR Director Victor Matveev who headed a JINR delegation noted in his welcoming speech special importance and rich history of the cooperation with BMBF. Furthermore, he noted that joint care for development of human resources is of primary importance in joint work. The representative JINR delegation comprising of members of the Directorate, heads of all the scientific laboratories and the University Centre, leaders of the International Cooperation Department took part in the event.

A German delegation was headed by BMBF Coordinator for cooperation with JINR Jürgen Kroseberg representing the BMBF Department “Universe and matter”. The German party was represented at the Committee by Gerd Röpke (University of Rostock), Frank Schilling (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), Frank Schreiber (University of Tübingen), Klaus-Dieter Gross (GSI), Peter Senger (GSI), Olaf Kühnholz (DESY), Timo Ueltzhöffer (DESY) and Angar Verma (German Aerospace Centre – DLR).

First JINR Vice-Director Grigory Trubnikov in his opening report on the strategic view of the future cooperation highlighted the priorities and expectations of JINR in the four key sections: the development of the formal status of Germany in JINR, search for new ways of cooperation, tools for attracting and supporting the scientific youth, as well as deepening of cooperation in the frames of the megascience project NICA. At the beginning of the presentation, Grigory Trubnikov informed the participants that the Committee of Plenipotentiary Representatives of the Governments of the JINR Member States finds the issue of enhancing cooperation with Germany a priority one. He also noted the importance of joint work on the Agreement on Associate Membership and proposed to German colleagues to consider the full membership in JINR in the future as a format corresponding in practice to the current state of the cooperation with regard to plans for its development.

Grigory Trubnikov described symbolically the task of forming the new architecture of the cooperation that had not undergone any considerable changes for years and that should attract more young scientists: “We should think hard how to create a brain magnet, not drain.” He also noted a significant synergy in numerous issues of the Russian-German Roadmap for the development of scientific and technical cooperation and called for a broader consideration of possibilities of joint research at all the JINR scientific infrastructures, including interdisciplinary studies, such as Big Data, artificial intelligence, quantum algorithms, breakthrough engineering, life sciences, and others.

Among the tools for attracting the youth, Grigory Trubnikov mentioned the annual JINR-FAIR/GSI school (or Dubna-Darmstadt, D2) being prepared to start in 2021 and presented in detail in the report by JINR Vice-Director Boris Sharkov. Furthermore, he proposed to develop a concept of the joint NICA-FAIR Research Centre with the participation of universities, the Helmholtz Association and some other institutions to provide young scientists with the access to research in both mega-projects. The report also mentioned other tools for joint consideration for the sake of the cooperation enhancement: information centres, advanced training programmes for managers in science and higher education, and many others.

The leader of the NICA project Vladimir Kekelidze devoted his report to the state of the cooperation of the NICA and FAIR projects and its further prospects. Grigory Trubnikov in his presentation noted that associate membership of Germany in the Supervisory Board of the NICA Complex project should harmonize development and research programmes of NICA and FAIR. In this regard, the JINR Directorate will shortly send corresponding invitations to German colleagues. Another significant area for alignment is the use of experience in the development of large-scale research infrastructure (RI): the establishment of a joint school for leaders of large-scale RI, joint use of the NICA-FAIR organizational structures for work of expert groups, strategic planning groups, etc.

A considerable part of the Committee’s meeting was devoted to the discussion of the new cooperation format based on three key fields, each regulated by its steering committee. Jürgen Kroseberg presented the ideology of the new format in detail. The first field is the continuation of the Heisenberg-Landau programme that has almost thirty years of history and consistently provides high scientific results. BLTP Deputy Director Nikolai Antonenko and Gerd Röpke from the University of Rostock reported on it in detail. Frank Schilling (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and FLNP Director Valery Shvetsov presented information on joint research in the fields of neutron physics. They also offered to expand the scope of joint research. Moreover, Frank Schilling noted that this ‘German’ FLNP infrastructure will continue to be funded by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology until 2024. The latter is the reason for these studies to become a separate field of cooperation. The third one is the most extensive cooperation field in the frames of the new format, namely the attraction and support of young scientists in the frames of joint research projects on a wide scope of joint works and, in fact, managing these projects at the expert level. Furthermore, this field supposes activation of the entire range of JINR’s tools aimed to support the youth. It includes well-established programmes of the JINR University Centre, AYSS schools for young scientists, the JEMS programme, and some other scientific events for young specialists.

As far as one of the tasks for the nearest future will be to draft a new thematically balanced bilateral research plan, the agenda of the meeting included presentations by the JINR scientific laboratories. DLNP Deputy Director Dmitry Naumov told participants about cooperation in the frames of the Baikal Neutrino Telescope. LRB Director Alexander Bugay shared ideas for cooperation with the Laboratory of Radiation Biology. FLNR Deputy Director Andrey Popeko reported on the opportunities for young scientists in the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions. LIT Director Vladimir Korenkov represented the Laboratory of Information Technologies.

The current 26th meeting of the BMBF-JINR Committee was preceded by a set of bilateral online discussions in a round-table format. Their participants worked out prospects for cooperation development on a wide scope of issues: attraction of young scientists, organization of the JINR-GSI/FAIR school, expansion of the programme of neutron research, search for ways of cooperation in astroparticle physics and in the frames of one of the key JINR projects, namely Baikal-GVD. Some strategic issues of the cooperation and JINR initiatives were reported on by the JINR delegation at the meeting of Russian-German joint commission on scientific and technical cooperation on 25 June. In fact, these discussions were continued during the present BMBF-JINR Committee meeting.

Following the results of the 26th meeting of the Committee, participants agreed to hold the next meeting in October 2020. In this regard, several topical round tables will be organized until September on various issues of scientific cooperation and working out of organizational issues. The new JINR-Germany cooperation format under development should be completed by the end of this year so that to start its practical implementation next year. Moreover, assessment of the state of art and results of the projects being implemented nowadays to optimize the transition period between the existing cooperation format and future new-format projects was indicated as one of the issues for preparatory work. As a key outcome of the Committee, the parties confirmed high mutual interest in the cooperation enhancement and expressed their readiness to carry out extensive multifaceted ‘homework’.

Summing up the milestones of the event, JINR Director Victor Matveev characterized the meeting as very constructive and fruitful thus expressing the general opinion of the JINR delegation, he warmly thanked all the participants of the event: “Several years ago, we met with our German colleagues to discuss the issues of associate membership of Germany in JINR and drafted some kind of a roadmap for performing this task. Today’s meeting clearly demonstrates that we are moving in the right direction, and I really hope that the formalization of German membership will be the result of this work. Building on our large-scale and fruitful mutually beneficial cooperation, I am sure that we will soon achieve this aim.

No doubts that today’s meeting has been successful, and we will continue our work at the next autumn meeting. On behalf of the JINR Directorate, I would like to thank our German colleagues headed by Jürgen Kroseberg for their excellent preparation of this meeting. I would like to emphasize that we are glad to invite German representatives to join the Supervisory Board of the NICA project.