One thing that Ralph Fiergolla made very clear today in Nijmegen is that the European Commission really would like more experts from the free software community to evaluate research proposals. You don’t need a PhD (I haven’t got one either), but you do need a certain amount of technical knowledge, a certain amount of experience so you know what things are likely to work and what things aren’t — but if you’ve been coding for a half a decade or more and have been participating in free software communities for about as long, you might very well be the kind of person the European Commission needs for its evaluation process.
From my own experience I can say that it’s a fun thing to do, not extremely well remunerated, but you get to meet really interesting people. The evaluation process itself is really thorough and well-designed, and it’s a good thing to have experienced. Sure, there are inconveniences, like having to read about 600 pages of dry prose and doing your real best to really understand the issues and the subject. But what’s a little inconvenience in a righteous cause? And you have to read up on the relevant EU documents, too, which is a bit of work. Perhaps track the rss feed too.
But if you think you have the right stuff in you, why not go to Cordis website, and check it out, and maybe even register as an expert? The KDE community really is full of excellence — let’s make sure that the wider world benefits from that, too.