Another trip to Tokyo on Tuesday, this time to the EU Delegation to hear a European science bigwig talk about funding opportunities. When notified of the event, I had recognised the name - Don Dingwell - as the current President of the EGU, which was one added point of interest, but he was visiting in his capacity as the Secretary-General of the European Research Council, to publicise their grant schemes. Oddly, he's Canadian, but has been in Europe for a long time. The odds of a non-Japanese leading the JpGU or heading up a major national funding agency must be very long indeed.
He was pushing the ERC grant scheme as being incredibly attractive, high on science and low on restrictions. I suspect he wants more applicants and a greater global presence in order to justify a large research budget that the committee can then share out amongst their friends (he has one of these grants himself, naturally). But the more he talked it up, the more jules and I thought....meh. When we consider that we have plenty of funding for 5 years for 3 people (postdoc/researcher position to be advertised shortly...) and pretty much complete freedom on what we do (within a general theme), it actually sounds pretty similar. Plus, we didn't have to be world class to get it, or even fill in a 30 page application :-) Of course what we have here won't last for ever and it would be a nice parachute back to the UK when the gravy train hits the buffers (or we get sufficiently fed up to leave), but we wouldn't stand much chance of getting funded anyway. Predictably (but sadly) all the questions from the Japanese attendees were along the lines of "can we get your money without having to cut our apron strings and actually go abroad"...I only exaggerate a little.
After that, we went to have the best pizza in the world. Or so I thought at the time. However on re-reading more carefully, it seems that although the prize-winning chef did indeed win several awards while working there, he has subsequently set himself up somewhere else. It was still very good though, with not a kani-jaga-mayo pizza in sight. Which may explain why it was not completely full. That and being a rainy Tuesday evening. Not only the food, but also the service was good - it was a nice touch to bring the pizzas out sequentially so we had the second one fresh and hot to share. It's also handy location right next to Omotesando station so we might be back some time when we have another central Tokyo engagement.
Due to the absence of a small decent quality camera (see previous TX5 failure) the pics are rubbish ones from my ipod.