In my previous blog I wrote about the Common Strategic Framework Programme (CSF) and its significance. Well, I’m back with some updates on the official new name, some budget figures, and the elements of the new Programme and the latest developments about post 2013 Structural Funds.
Unfortunately, despite submitting a very creative proposal, I didn’t win the competition for the new official name selected among a variety of submissions. Personal disappointment aside, the winning name for the new Research Framework Programme is Horizon 2020. Let’s hope that the Horizon 2020 will not be a gloomy one.
The figures about the budget on research and innovation are also now available. Based on the policy priorities set up within the Europe 2020 strategy, which focuses on “smart growth” for research and innovation, it was good to see that even in the time of financial cutbacks and austerity measures, the new proposal for EU budget (2014-2020) matches their goals with plans for a sharp increase in funding (45%). The current €55 billion provided in the current 2007–13 Programme for research and innovation will increase to €80 billion for the period 2014–20. This substantial funding raise can be considered a big success and a vote of confidence for research and science, especially as budgets in other areas will shrink or remain flat.
In general, Horizon 2020 plans to support a shift from non-coherent and different priorities stated in the various EC programmes and initiatives to a set of common strategic priorities agreed on an EC level. Horizon 2020 focuses on research excellence, societal challenges and competitiveness. While holding a steady focus on European Research and Technological Development (RTD), it will concentrate more on stronger support for innovation, including non-technological innovation and market take up.
Through Horizon 2020, the EC will support the coordination of e-Infrastructures at an EU level to provide seamless services (including international cooperation). It will subsidise distributed infrastructure coordination that provides added European value and the continuous support of upgrading e-Infrastructures and further federation of national efforts. Furthermore, the EC sees e-Infrastructures as knowledge and innovation enablers for research infrastructures (including ESFRI projects) across disciplinary, geographic and administrative boundaries fostering the development of genuine pan-European infrastructures. The most important aspect of e-Infrastructure in the years to come is development of innovative services, digital curation, open access and a stronger user-centric approach.
The EC will ensure that there is a closer cooperation between the Directorate General for Information Society and Media (the one funding e-Infrastructure projects) and the DG for Research and Infrastructure (the one funding ESFRI projects). As a result of better coordination, the EC wants to see a durable connection between e-Infrastructures and ESFRI projects that will result in increased mutual benefits. Gaining momentum and strong element of continuity in collaboration between EGI and ESFRI projects will lead to stronger links between e-Infrastructures and emerging Virtual Research Communities (VRCs). Ideally, every ESFRI infrastructure should eventually become part of the discipline-specific VRC.
It is important to note that the post 2013 Structural Funds programmes will have an increased emphasis on innovation and smart growth specialisation. The EC proclaimed that it will use structural funds for research and innovation to: develop world-class research and ICT infrastructures; establish networks of research facilities; and develop regional partner facilities. However, EC money is to be used to stimulate national funding not replace it, hence, increasing national funding through Structural Funds serves to complement and reduce spending in other EC funding programmes. One of the tasks for EGI.eu will be to work with NGIs on any application for Structural Funds. This will be done over the following months in order to allow the NGIs to thoroughly investigate the possibility of having this funding source as an integral part of their organisational plans.
The potential introduction of Structural Funds as part of an NGI’s business model highlights how future sustainability lies in the diversity of funding and revenue sources (Structural Funds programme, EC project funding, service charging, etc.). If you are interested in these topics, you are more than welcome to participate in the EGI Sustainability and Business workshop as part of the upcoming EGI Technical forum in Lyon – September 2011. You will be part of an interactive and hands-on oriented discussion on sustainability aspects and future business models for EGI.
Looking forward to seeing you in Lyon!