Does our future depend on science? Recommendations for a better EU research framework

Does our future depend on science? Recommendations for a better EU research framework

Does our future depend on science? Recommendations for a better EU research framework 970 545 ATTRACT Project phase 2

ATTRACT was one of the sponsors of the latest Science|Business Annual Network Conference which was held in Brussels on February 6-7, and brought together leading experts from the public and private sectors to discuss what is achieved through the Horizon Europe programme and how to improve it based on their experience with it and what they think should be planned for the final three years of this programme.

During the second day of the event, international R&I leaders convened at the public conference “Sustainable horizons: Does our future depend on science?” to explore the science and tech agendas to bring planetary sustainability goals within reach and to address some of the fundamental tensions at the interface between the two. Representing ATTRACT, Sergio Bertolucci, ATTRACT R&D&I Committee Chair & former Scientific Director at CERN, participated in the session on Technology infrastructures to talk about strengthening innovation strategy and performance.

It is worth noting that as a result of the conference, Science|Business has prepared a report: “11 ways to make Horizon Europe work better” that summarises the discussion held during this event in response to the European Commission’s open consultation on the future of the R&I Framework Programme.

Here you can see the recommendations in brief:

  1. Pilot smaller-scale R&I actions involving fewer partners and covering a wider range of technology readiness levels (TRLs) to enable more universities and smaller entities to participate in and lead projects in Horizon’s Pillar II, the programme’s central, collaborative research chapter.
  2. Communicate openly and clearly about the politics of Horizon Europe association and third-country participation. To help researchers understand the political landscape better, set up a European support office or help desk, designed after similar national Horizon ‘portals’.
  3. Slow down the roll-out of lump sum funding and produce a robust objective report on the pros and cons of the approach before going further.
  4. Basic research should not be limited to the European Research Council and its bottom-up approach. Introduce more funding opportunities for lower TRL projects, including collaborative basic research, to Pillar II of Horizon Europe.
  5. Research infrastructures rest on talent. Pilot a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) scheme for movement and knowledge-sharing between engineers and specialists working on research infrastructures and technology.
  6. To meet green innovation ambitions, fund more high-risk, high-reward technologies, including further exploration of genetic modification, and give a stronger mandate to social sciences and humanities researchers.
  7. Digital is confusing. Explain interlinkages and differences between Digital Europe, Horizon Europe, the Missions, and other instruments. And make sure different interpretations of EU data laws are not getting in the way of cross-border research and innovation.
  8. Disease prevention won’t fix all health issues. Return focus on new therapies and disease pathways.
  9. The Missions, five goal-oriented R&I initiatives in Horizon, need a rethink to ensure maximum impact. Pilot a mechanism to keep national agencies and researchers in the loop. Make the difference between Mission and non-Mission calls more
  10. Ease the path of involvement in Pillar III, focused on innovation and ecosystems, for universities, and get serious about social innovation.
  11. Instruments in the Widening programme, focused on integrating eastern and western EU members for R&I collaboration, must enable Widening countries to participate in the rest of the programme, not just give them extra space to play in. Assess what works and what doesn’t before introducing new instruments.

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Project partners

European flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101004462