Through the ERA Chair project RBI intends to create a Centre for Detectors, Sensors and Electronics (CDSE). CDSE will acquire top people in the relevant area of expertise. The Centre will focus on the development and testing of detector, sensor, and electronics research equipment relevant for nuclear, particle, and astroparticle physics experiments as well as for potential related interdisciplinary and industrial applications. Through this project the current RBI research and development regarding detectors, sensors and electronics research will become much more influential on a world wide scale.
In particular, the impacts of the ERA Chair will be:
The ERA Chair is expected to also impact the broader research community and national economy, all of which should contribute to an increased attractiveness of RBI and Croatia in general to top researchers.
Mobility of researchers in Croatia is unfortunately mostly one way, going from Croatia westwards. The Croatian government recognizes this problem, and is trying to attract researchers of Croatian origin working abroad by creating several new posts per year to such researchers.
It is a priority of RBI to fully use this opportunity, and RBI has done so with success. The last acquisition is the biophysicist Iva Tolić. Her application for the ERC Consolidator Grant in the first Horizon 2020 call has been positively evaluated and she is the first ERC Grant holder who won grant with the RBI affiliation.
Other prominent Croatians returning from abroad have recently been also employed by RBI. One is Ana Sunčana Smith working in biophysics and is the recipient of an ERC Starting grant, and the second example is astrophysicist Vibor Jelić employed at RBI after being employed at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy ASTRON. At the moment RBI employs five excellent foreign researchers with long-time contracts and around twenty on temporary project–based contracts. RBI has a policy of trying to get as many more of such top researchers.
The outstanding reputation of the ERA Chair and her/his team, their high prominence within RBI and the Croatian Smart Specialization projects, and the high visibility of their activities in RBI international projects, will make RBI much more attractive for such internationally excellent and mobile senior researchers. For the same reason, the attractiveness of RBI will also increase for students wishing to make their PhD studies under the guidance of RBI staff or to perform post-doctoral work at RBI. Since the ERA Chair and her/his team will have large experience in international collaborations, students finalizing PhDs at RBI will easily find post-doctoral positions in one of the top international institutions and as a result of this project and in synergy with O-ZIP, they will find attractive the option of returning back to RBI to continue their work.
One of the obvious impacts of this project will be a greatly improved research potential for research instrumentation testing and development, in particular of radiation and particle detector systems, various types of sensors, their readout, and their data acquisition and control. All of these are of interest for basic and applied research in physics, material science, engineering, medicine, environmental science, as well as for technology transfer to an innovation driven industry.
This facility, like all others at the RBI will be open to all research and innovation activities from all national and international stakeholders complying with international research standards or with realistic potential for technology transfer and commercialization of knowledge. Therefore, realization of the project will increase potential for technology transfer and interactions with non-traditional stakeholders from the public sector and with industrial partners.
The ability to perform work on development, testing and construction of detectors, sensors, and electronics for experiments in nuclear, particle, and astroparticle physics will strengthen the position and reputation of RBI researchers in existing international collaborations and provide added value to their current activities at an international level. It will also enhance their chances to be involved in new top class collaborations planned for top facilities worldwide, as well as enable the development and the upgrade of existing RBI facilities.
A top priority of RBI is introducing institutional changes to implement the European Research Area priorities. As a result, RBI in 2014 adopted a comprehensive Action Plan addressing the manner RBI is structured and operated. Implementing the Action Plan is an ongoing and difficult process. Many of the measures go against numerous established practices in Croatia, and the full practical implementation of the Action Plan is expected to take at least several years.
The ERA Chair will have an important role in the effective and timely adoption of key elements of the Action Plan. This will be achieved both by example of the CDSE, as well as by having key positions in the RBI decision making process.
The successful implementation of the Action Plan will considerably change the RBI working environment and will form the basis for research and innovation excellence on a sustainable basis. Importantly, new organization and operation of RBI will fully comply with the European Charter & Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.
O-ZIP, RBI's 60 million Euro flagship proposal to ESIF is explicitly approved in the Croatian Operational Programme, confirming its compliance with the Smart Specialization strategy. The ERA Chair will contribute to O-ZIP, and thus to the Smart Specialisation strategy, by taking an important role in the Advanced technologies and materials platform of O-ZIP.
The focus is on detectors, sensors and electronics for radiation and ion beam/particles technology used in basic research (nuclear, particle and astro-particle physics), in applications of nuclear techniques in material science, chemistry, medicine, pharmaceutics, environment, archaeology, climatology, in technology for energy production, robotics, and in industry (food processing, wood-processing, defense, medical equipment production, electronics production). Besides advanced technology priority, many of these subjects are related to other main priorities of the national smart specialization strategy: biotechnology, medicine, advanced materials, environment and marine research and technology.
Even ICST, also one of the main national priorities, is involved in this project because research in nuclear, particle, and astroparticle physics demand sophisticated software and hardware for extremely fast processing of tremendous amount of data, safe storage of data, fast networks and protocols for reliable data transfer and protocols for communication.
The foundation of this project is connected with a better and closer co-operation with the business sector, the interconnection of scientific, educational, and economic institutions and the principle of open access regarding the acquired infrastructure and its use by the RBI staff and by the wider Croatian academic and commercial communities. The impact on developing a competitive industrial sector will derive from addressing, employing and enhancing key enabling technologies (KET), fostering an unheralded interaction in Croatia between research and industry.
According to the Croatian research and innovation infrastructure roadmap one of Croatia's strategic objectives, in line with the European 2020 Strategy, is to improve scientific excellence. High quality research and improved doctoral training provided by this project certainly contribute to this priority of our developing country.