PSF Announces Research Grant Via Competitive Research Program

Stakeholders are prepared to bargain for a larger budget, better balance, and a longer-term vision in the tenth research framework program of EU, which doesn’t begin until 2028.

PSF Announces Research Grant Via Competitive Research Program

Stakeholders are prepared to bargain for a larger budget, better balance, and a longer-term vision in the tenth research framework program of EU, which doesn’t begin until 2028. Horizon Brussels is already planning the next seven-year research program even though Europe has just begun the third of its current seven-year cycle.

The tenth EU framework programme (FP10) will be informed by the European Commission’s closure of a consultation on EU programmes in February, and Brussels’ proponents of research are already formulating a plan.

There are many demands for research and innovation program at the EU level, from developing new technology to help address the climate crisis to making Europe a leader in the semiconductor industry, so the negotiations won’t be simple.

Investments are needed for all of this, so EU governments will need to be convinced to foot the bill. Then there are the lessons that the current €95.5 billion EU research programme has taught us.

Some people feel that a lot of research is becoming too policy-driven, that there are too many barriers to international collaboration, and that research translation is still a difficult task. All of these concerns will need to be taken into consideration as the EU develops the upcoming research framework program, which will be suggested by the incoming Commission prior to 2028.

Research stakeholders need a new strategy to secure more political backing for research, as the EU is facing a series of emergencies and public money is being diverted to defence and energy, away from less time-sensitive priorities. Last time around, stakeholders called for a doubling of the EU’s research budget, but policymakers settled for €95.5 billion.

R&D has a key role to play in the energy transition, and it is important to make this clear to policymakers. There are fears resources may be diverted away from research, but the crises show a need to invest in R&I to provide solutions. Just van den Hoek, policy officer at the Netherlands Institute for Education and Research (Neth-ER), hopes member states will recognise the instrumental role of the program.

For Björnmalm, research and innovation’s capacity to assist in resolving significant societal problems is a competitive advantage. Although it may be obvious, the argument that research will shape the future frequently fell on deaf ears during the negotiations for Horizon Europe.

It depends on who you speak with and how, says Björnmalm. We should argue why R&I is crucial to achieving these goals rather than fighting against allocating more funding to other policy areas, according to the author.

This goal-oriented strategy should be used, says Björnmalm. “We have been battling on a daily basis. But let’s understand the currents and cooperate with them rather than attempting to stem the tide.

Even though it’s still early, some people have already calculated the demands for the upcoming framework program. Among other organisations, Neth-ER wants to see €200 billion on the table. The justification is the same as last time: according to a then-famous report, Horizon Europe should have been twice as big as Horizon 2020.

The same issues still exist, but this wasn’t accomplished. “We know that the EU has many strategic goals, such as the green deal or digitalization, and we also know that our rivals, particularly the US and China, are heavily investing in R&D. So, for all of these goals to be obtained and to avoid further lagging behind at the global level, Horizon needs serious funding,” says van den Hoek.

EU-LIFE believes that FP10 should be ambitious and go beyond the usual play-by-play, as it is the first post-pandemic negotiation of a framework programme and Brussels is navigating in a different world. It should also be long-term and reflect the EU’s longer term vision, beyond the political cycle.

Agostinho has faith that the member nations will develop a comprehensive framework for science. For the sake of the future of Europe, we must fulfil our obligations, she said. “We have faith in the member nations. If not, we wouldn’t be committed to working for R&I. A need for changes In order to have a better-oiled next programme, researchers want to see a number of flaws in Horizon Europe fixed. Budget isn’t everything.

For starters, Horizon Europe’s funding for independent scientific research is being eroded by its impact-driven strategy. This was the Commission’s large-scale Horizon consultation a few months ago. “That balance should be restored because it hasn’t been entirely adequate today. All excellent and impactful researchers should be catered to, according to van den Hoek.

For academic institutions and research centres that support the application of fundamental science to solving societal problems, this will be a critical issue. Although this is nothing new, Agostinho argues that it is crucial for us to move towards more exploratory and less directive political approaches. International cooperation is another critical issue that needs to be fixed.

Although there has been much discussion about opening up the program, the Commission has encountered a number of obstacles. Even the closest allies of the EU, like the UK and Switzerland, are still not included in the program.

Van den Hoek questions whether the EU’s new research instruments, such as the New European Bauhaus and the five research missions, are worth the investment. They are still new and hard to judge, but researchers have been wary about their added value.

Research projects now come with a list of requirements, such as gender plans, impact assessments, and transdisciplinary approaches. Many researchers are finding these issues difficult to deal with, and more should be done to ensure knowledge transfer. The Commission has been working towards this for years, but Horizon Europe falls short in moving knowledge and research towards innovation.