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What is NEST?

Opening the frontiers of tomorrow's research


NEST (New and Emerging Science and Technology) was a new activity in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). It aims to support unconventional and visionary research with the potential to open new fields for European science and technology, as well as research on potential problems uncovered by science.
NEST is designed to be flexible and interdisciplinary research is encouraged. There are no restrictions on the scientific fields to be addressed except that the research carried out under NEST should cut across or lie outside the thematic priority areas. NEST will not support projects which simply cannot find their home in one of FP6's thematic priorities.
NEST involves three complementary Action Lines, each contributing to the overall goal of improving European anticipation of future scientific and technological needs. The overall budget for NEST within FP6 is 215 million of euros.


The "Tackling Complexity in Science" Pathfinder initiative

Extracted from (the reference document):

Though no commonly accepted definition of complexity exists, it is realized that widely different systems, composed of many interacting units, generate under certain conditions a characteristic common phenomenology, the most prominent signature of which is the emergence of new patterns transcending the characteristics of the individual units. Such systems are ubiquitous in many branches of natural and human sciences as well as in technology.
In the mean time, the world with which we have to interact is in itself becoming ever more complex. Modern technology and systems mean that the number and type of interactions amongst people have also multiplied.
The promise of the science of complexity is to provide, if not a unified approach, at least common tools to tackling complex problems in various scientific domains.
The first NEST-PATHFINDER Call on "Tackling Complexity in Science" was successful at setting up a diverse but highly complementary group of projects, giving an impetus to European efforts in the area. The call was also successful in setting up a Coordination Action to ensure the articulation of these projects with each other and with the broader Complexity research community in Europe (see here for details on projects funded under the first call for proposals).
The current call seeks to maintain the same strategic orientation, while taking into account the outcome and lessons learnt from the earlier call. It will support cross disciplinary research on complexity as well as collaboration between the field of "Complex Systems Science" and specific areas of science where complexity is a key issue. It will promote the creation of new interdisciplinary partnerships between researchers within the field of complex systems and researchers in a range of other fields, as well as the extension and generalisation of successful techniques for dealing with complexity from one area of research into others.


The specific objectives of this PATHFINDER initiative are therefore to:


As required by the overall NEST mandate, research supported by this initiative needs to be highly interdisciplinary, innovative and with the promise of having a high impact, both scientific and otherwise, in the long term.
In accordance with the overall philosophy of the current PATHFINDER initiatives, the transfer of techniques from one domain of application to another is particularly sought. Furthermore, such solutions should preferably be generalisable further to other areas of application as well.
Examples of scientific domains where the identification of problems is encouraged are biology (e.g. complexity in cellular signalling and regulation processes, bio-complexity), social sciences (e.g. emergence and robustness of social institutions) and the environment (e.g. predictability and distribution of extreme events in nature). Proposals that offer real prospects of bridging the gap between the physical sciences, and the social and other natural sciences in an effective manner are particularly encouraged.
Projects are expected to take a practical, problem-solving, approach, grounded in observation and experimental data. At the same time, problems should be tackled from a complexity-inspired approach, taking into account issues such as emergence, robustness, predictability, and the consideration of such complex systems from the point of view of networks, or networks of networks.
Projects should be brought forward by highly interdisciplinary teams, bringing together competences from two or more areas of application. Furthermore, if possible, the team should have the necessary competencies to generalise the results further if the approach is successful.
The initiative is designed to encourage researchers to come forward with novel ideas and approaches. The aim is to create a portfolio of ambitious "beacon projects" which, by seeking interdisciplinary opportunities at the limits of scientific knowledge, expand the knowledge base in significant ways.


The GIACS coordination action

GIACS (General Integration of the Applications of Complexity in Science) was created to coordinate the activities of the Complexity Pathfinder in NEST (New and Emerging Science and Technology).

The objective of GIACS is to support the integration of NEST Complexity Pathfinder STREPs. These Specific Targeted Research Projects deal with implementing complexity science in various application domains including physical sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology; social sciences such as psychology, sociology, political science, economics.

A related coordination activity, funded by the FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST (Information Society Technology) programme of the European Commission is ONCE-CS (Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems).