6 Jun 2019

The BRIDGE Network: excellence in scientific research and international cooperation

<Joint Press Release, Klosterneuburg, June 5, 2019 >

Science is inherently international, competitive, collaborative, and dynamic. Now, five research institutes from four regions of the world have founded the "BRIDGE Network." The new and unique network includes the Rockefeller University (USA), the Francis Crick Institute (UK), the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (Japan) and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) with the aim of strengthening excellence in scientific research and education through collaboration and exchange. The platform was presented during a joint event in Vienna on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by the presidents and senior scientists of the research institutes.

Development of best practices through mutual exchange of experience

The BRIDGE network is an informal platform of research institutions, each pursuing two missions: the performance cutting-edge research and the training of PhD students. This is represented by the name of the network: “Basic Research Institutions Delivering Graduate Education". The members combine the best of two worlds for top researchers: on the one hand, the freedom and availability of resources to fully concentrate on research and, on the other, a steady influx of brilliant young scientists.

The network provides a basis for fruitful exchange of best practice between its members. The combined expertise in the management and administration of research institutes and graduate universities shall be used to the benefit of science and society. The existing links between the partner organizations and their respective employees shall be strengthened and further developed.

“It is hugely exciting to see research institutes from around the world come together to cooperate and help us reach new frontiers in scientific progress. In our globalizing world we must come together to ensure we are at the cutting edge of research, teaching and education”, says Tom Henzinger, President of IST Austria. “We are delighted to be setting up ‘The Bridge Network’ with colleagues from these outstanding institutions.”

International cooperation as the key to success

The members of the BRIDGE network are among the world's most successful scientific institutions in the fields of the natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. The five top institutes combine the goal of outstanding science with graduate education without being a full university offering undergraduate studies. This model has proved extremely successful at Rockefeller University (founded in 1901) and the Weizmann Institute (founded in 1934) and formed the basis for the foundation of the relatively young institutes OIST, IST Austria and Crick (all three founded in the past 15 years). The five founding institutes fulfill optimal conditions for international scientists, they recruit and operate in a global environment and promote cooperation across institutional, political and disciplinary boundaries.

The aims of the BRIDGE Network are, in particular, to:

  • Advocate common values, in particular excellence in research and graduate education, internationality, research ethics, responsible leadership and mentorship, autonomy, openness and diversity
  • Promote successful organizational models for research and graduate education
  • Promote standards for evaluation of scientific institutes and graduate universities
  • Address issues of common concern and develop common positions towards third parties (national and international)
  • Issue policy statements
  • Provide a forum for regular meetings
  • Develop best practices through mutual exchange of experiences
  • Support the member organizations and strengthen communication and collaboration between them

Charter of the BRIDGE Network

The BRIDGE Network has been set up as an open platform research institutes. Therefore, further collaborations are possible at any time, and more research institutes may be invited to join, if all existing members agree.

“Institutes like ours that do research and graduate training are rather rare and are generally relatively new.  As a consequence they don’t fit neatly into boxes like traditional research institutes or universities,” says Paul Nurse, Nobel laureate and CEO as well as President of the Francis Crick Institute (Great Britain). Through the BRIDGE network, we can share best practice to make the most of our advantages and work together to solve common challenges. We hope that this will help us all to improve, benefiting our science and ultimately society.”

“Today’s modern society is so different than those that existed in the past. This is mainly due to our natural curiosity: We want to understand the world we live in. The Bridge Network will create a unique ecosystem of institutions, all of them focused on scientific research of a fundamental nature. This is the basis of all further technological advance. These institutions have many features in common: They are driven by excellence and curiosity; they are, by default, international; and they focus on the advancement of scientific knowledge as well as on graduate education”, says Daniel Zajfman, President of the Weizmann Institute (Israel).

“Science is a global endeavor that involves researchers from all over the world. At the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan we bring together outstanding scientists to work in a cross-disciplinary environment that offers high-trust funding, access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and respect for one another. We see the BRIDGE network as an important platform to promote the value of basic research across several continents, to strengthen the exchange of information among some of the leading international institutes, and to raise the visibility of the importance of diversity for the pursuit of scientific excellence,” says Mary Collins, Provost of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (Japan).

“The founding members of the new BRIDGE Network represent a unique set of organizations within the ecosystem of international scientific research. The intimate, focused cultures of discovery that arise in our institutions bring to the fore creativity and collaboration and collisions of brilliance among some of the best scientists in the world. The new BRIDGE Network will help us enhance those attributes and will enable us to pursue common cause with a group of like-minded research organizations in the future,” says Franklin Hoke, associated Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, of Rockefeller University (USA).

From left to right, Mr. Franklin Hoke, Associated Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs of Rockefeller University, Dr. Tom Henzinger, President of IST Austria, Dr. Mary Collins, Provost of OIST, Paul Nurse, President of the Francis Crick Institute and Dr. Daniel Zajfman, President of the Weizmann Institute.

Further information can be found at https://bridge-net.org/