At the Barcelona GSE's opening ceremony for its 2009-10 master programs on December 4 at the Pedrera, GSE Director-General Dr. Eduard Vallory announced that the AXA Research Fund has committed 1.25M euros to the GSE’s research endowment. This is the first private contribution to the School’s endowment, which began with funds totaling 8.5M euros from the Spanish budgets for 2008 and for 2009 approved by the Spanish Congress. The Barcelona GSE is the first institution in Spain and one of the few in Europe to receive major support from the competitive and highly selective AXA Research Fund.
Mr. Xavier Güell, Chief Operating Officer of the AXA Research Fund, presented the agreement in more detail and explained why AXA chose to support the Barcelona GSE. “We want to support only frontier science and research of excellence – the crème de la crème if I may say so”, Mr. Güell explained. “In addition to the scientific excellence of the Barcelona GSE, our scientific board accorded a great importance to the originality of the research-devoted endowment the GSE proposed.”
Since the AXA Research Fund’s creation in 2008, only 8 of 60 endowment and chair applications were selected in a rigorous process around Europe that includes independent review by at least three international and anonymous referees and a final review by the Fund’s scientific board. Aside from the Barcelona GSE, the exclusive list of selected institutions includes the London School of Economics, the Paris School of Economics, and the Toulouse School of Economics.
As agreed upon by the Board of the GSE, the research endowment will be dedicated exclusively to the appointment of Research Professors at the School. This distinction is a tenured joint appointment between the GSE and one of the academic bodies of the School, with the objective of attracting and retaining top scholars to tenured positions at one of the School's four founding academic institutions.
Over the next ten years, the GSE hopes to build an endowment of approximately 40M euros in order to support the appointment of about 40 research professors. Five research professors have already been appointed since the position was created in the spring of 2009. They are professors Massimo Motta (ICREA-UPF and Barcelona GSE), Nezih Guner (UAB and Barcelona GSE), Salvador Barberà (UAB and Barcelona GSE), Antonio Ciccone (ICREA-UPF and Barcelona GSE), and Jordi Galí (CREI-UPF and Barcelona GSE).
Mr. Güell cited the Research Professor initiative as a significant factor in AXA’s decision to contribute to the GSE endowment (which now totals 9.75M euros). “We are convinced that [research professorships] represent a key model to guarantee the autonomy and sustainability of the Barcelona GSE in the long term,” he said. “It also gives a competitive advantage to attract and retain the best people on the market.”
AXA Research Fund has joined the Board of the Barcelona GSE, and the AXA Research Professor of the Barcelona GSE will be appointed in 2010, tasked with leading the AXA Research Chair on Macroeconomic Risk.