Horizon 2020: a success story halfway through<p>Halfway down the Horizon 2020 road, the European Commission (EC) has taken stock of the implementation of Horizon 2020 so far.</p><p>The EC <a title="EC press release" href="http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=newsalert&year=2017&na=na-300517" target="_blank">published</a> the Staff Working Document (SWD) on the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 and aims to make adjustments in such a way that it will contribute to improving the implementation of Horizon 2020 in its last Work Programme 2018-2020. Moreover, it provides the evidence-base for the report of the High Level Group on maximizing the impact of EU Research and Innovation programmes and to inform the design of future Framework Programmes, most notably FP9. The SWD is merely an analysis and stock-stacking exercise and will be followed by a Communication from the EC in October 2017, which will give more political orientations for the future programme.</p> <p> </p> <p>Here, we would like to give you an overview of some of the main points in the evaluation report. In a nutshell, the conclusions and information provided do not come as a surprise. Rather, it is a confirmation of what we already knew.</p> <p> </p> <p>On the positive side, the EC praises the implementation of Horizon 2020, but is only marginally critical. Hence, this shows that in general, it is a well-functioning and highly valued programme and a strong improvement compared to FP7. However, the EC does acknowledge that it is too early to talk about the final impact of Horizon 2020 given the fact that of the first 11’000 projects funded so far, less than 10% have already finished (and their budget is less than 0.6% of the budget committed). The report looked at Horizon 2020’s relevance, efficiency and effectiveness. Some points we would like to highlight here, taken directly from the SWD are: </p> <p> </p> <ul> <li>Further strengthening the EU's science base is as necessary as ever and remains a valid Horizon 2020 objective.</li> <li>Emerging priorities and new developments still need to be scouted continuously and the right balance has to be found between too prescriptive or not prescriptive enough calls for proposals.</li> <li>Compared to FP7, Horizon 2020's efficiency is positively influenced by the extensive externalisation of programme implementation to new management modes including Executive Agencies.</li> <li>Horizon 2020's efficiency has been improved compared to FP7 through the large-scale simplification of the rules of participation, to the satisfaction of stakeholders.</li> <li>Horizon 2020 promotes intensive collaboration between different types of organisations and scientific disciplines.</li> <li>Horizon 2020 succeeds in attracting and involving the EU's and world's best research institutions and researchers.</li> <li>Pan-European research infrastructures supported by Horizon 2020 already contribute to Europe's excellent science with tools, materials and data accessible from across the EU and by supporting the mobility and training of researchers.</li> <li>Horizon 2020 is supporting projects with the potential to generate a large number of scientific breakthroughs.</li> <li>Horizon 2020 builds cross-sectoral, inter-disciplinary, intra- and extra-European research and innovation networks.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p>The areas where Horizon 2020 and its successor would need to step up their efforts include:</p> <p>  </p> <ul> <li>Tackling underfunding, which has led to massive oversubscription across the board in the whole of Horizon 2020. In addition, it resulted in an enormous waste of resources for applicants and of good proposals for Europe. This reflects the statement of the EUA, released earlier this year, which estimated the cost needed to set-up a competitive proposal.</li> <li>Better support for breakthrough, market-creating innovation is needed, whereby the EC in our view makes an implicit case to support the creation of a European Innovation Council (EIC) in the next Framework Programme.</li> <li>Greater outreach to civil society in terms of better explaining results and impacts, but also in involving them better in the programme co-design (agenda-setting) and its implementation (co-creation).</li> <li>Not surprisingly, creating synergies with other EU programmes remains a topic of concern, especially the European Fund for Strategic Investment (ESIF) and the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF).</li> <li>Another point that also did not come as a surprise, is the need for further simplification, a topic that will be picked up in the run up for FP9.</li> <li>Finally, more can be done to support and improve open access to publications and data.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p>Now, although the European research and innovation community is still awaiting the Lamy-report on 3 July, as well as the communication on Horizon 2020 later this year, the SWD sets the first step towards the final years of Horizon 2020 and FP9. However, it is a utopia to think that the underfunding can be solved so quickly. This is rather going to be a tough discussion in the negotiations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, considering the Brexit, among others. In this sense, the different interest groups are already claiming their fair share of the budget for FP9, be it the ERC Scientific Council, the European Parliament and others. So let us opt for that €100 billion or more funding, shall we?</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>Horizon 2020https://www.swisscore.org/Lists/Public/Article/DispForm.aspx?ID=8422017-05-30T22:00:00ZscArticle{D0E3C262-D945-E711-80C9-005056B7191C}https://www.swisscore.org/Lists/Public/ArticleImages/Horizon-2020.jpeg, https://www.swisscore.org/Lists/Public/ArticleImages/Horizon-2020.jpeg