The next European science and research funding programme, known as Horizon Europe, is designed to connect people with the achievements financed by their tax money, and to fix problems with innovation funding, according to Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.
He spoke to Horizon magazine to coincide with the launch of the Horizon Europe proposals on 7 June.
The plans for Horizon Europe contain a lot of continuity with Horizon 2020 but also some new elements such as the establishment of a European Innovation Council to promote innovation and the introduction of mission-oriented research. What’s your overall goal?
‘The idea was that we wanted to change the things that we are not doing very well but we would really like to have continuity in the things that we are doing well. We are the best in the world in fundamental research. So what we do in fundamental research is extremely good and we should keep doing it and increasing it.
‘What changes is basically two things. (The first is) the way we fund innovation. That is something that we don’t do very well so far, and we have proof of that. We have talked to entrepreneurs and we have people who came to us and told us: “Look, the way you look at innovation is too top down. You tell us what to do and today innovation is not about that, it is about us telling you what we want to do.”
‘And so the Innovation Council is to look at innovation the other way around - bottom up. We will be close to (the entrepreneurs), we will mentor them, we’ll be more than the money, we’ll be about following up what they do, about giving them data that they need.
‘And then there’s this idea of linking what we do to people. The idea of the missions, which comes from the work of the economist Mariana Mazzucato, is exactly to create ways of communicating better to the people what we do (in European science and research). Instead of saying that we will map the brain, we can say that our mission is to cure some diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia, or that we’ll do something for people not to die of cancer, and people will understand better what we do.’
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The European Union’s next research and innovation programme will run from 2021 to 2027 and be worth €100 billion, according to proposals launched on 7 June by the European Commission.
The planned programme is structured around three pillars: open science, global challenges and industrial competitiveness, and open innovation. The first pillar includes funding for fundamental research and grants for research mobility and infrastructure. The second pillar groups research into five clusters: health; inclusive and secure society; digital and industry; climate, energy and mobility; and food and natural resources. The third pillar is designed to enhance Europe’s innovation output.
There is also money set aside to strengthen Europe’s research base as a whole, including a doubling of funds designed to help Member States make the most of their national research and innovation potential, and by taking measures to reform and enhance the European research and innovation system.