Embracing both research and innovation under one programme, HORIZON 2020 has given a boost to bringing Europe’s excellent research to the market, preparing the ground for the innovations of tomorrow. This is one of the key messages of the EuroTech Universities Alliance Position on the Interim Evaluation of the EU’s Research and Innovation Programme HORIZON 2020.
Leading Universities of Science and Technology such as the EuroTech Universities provide the key institutional settings to translate scientific knowledge and technological progress into innovative solutions for the benefit of society. The Alliance position paper is based on this holistic view and expertise on the research and innovation cycle.
Key points of the Alliance position:
- Over the past years, we have been increasingly concerned about the budget cuts affecting research and innovation funding in Europe. If Europe’s ambition is to retain its global leadership in excellent science, in solving grand societal challenges and in industrial competitiveness, this ambition should be reflected in the future budgets allocated to HORIZON 2020 and future Framework Programmes.
- It is vital that Framework Programme funding is wholly grant-based for basic research and for research and innovation projects that have a strong focus on societal challenges – activities with the double dividend of directly serving European society while promoting economic growth.
- In the interest of retaining Europe’s global position in research and technology, the drive for excellence must prevail as the key criterion for all mainstream instruments of the Framework Programme.
- We have major concerns as regards a potential movement towards a two-tier approach – one for basic research and the other for innovation – rather than a holistic approach. In the Societal Challenges Work Programmes, there has been a strong trend towards focusing increasingly on High Technology Readiness Levels (e.g. TRLs of five and above). In our view, such a narrow focus on later stage innovation runs the risk of obstructing the creation of research-driven game-changing innovations.
- Not attracting the brightest minds to apply for HORIZON 2020 due to extremely low success rates will have huge implications for the future leadership of Europe’s research and innovation on a global level. We would therefore welcome new models of calls allowing for a Societal Challenges topic to be addressed at various Technology Readiness Levels. We also propose a wider use of the two-stage evaluation procedure.