Hub 1: Policy – Widening Participation and Strengthening ERA
More investment, better policies, stronger COOPERATION
The session discussed available European instruments and mechanisms to support national R&I policy reforms. The Structural Reform Programme was presented: It aims to improve national policy frameworks and foster cooperation between science and business. For the next period, this demand-led programme will benefit from a 35% increase in budget and a 7 year duration. In addition, DG Regional and Urban Policy offers a portfolio of measures to close the gap between countries and regions with advanced and less-advanced R&I systems.
The importance and potentials of creating synergies and complementarities between structural funds and Horizon Europe was highlighted. Smart Specialisation Strategies are seen as a success to strengthen regional innovation systems and will be continued. In addition options are assessed to strengthen cooperation of regions and set up joint calls between Cohesion Funds and Horizon Europe. As a prerequisite excellence-driven R&I systems should be in place in all countries. A whole of governance is called for in order to create synergies across different parts of the administration and ensure that investments pay off to the widest extent.
Good practice cases are given from Romania and Poland. The Policy Support Facility is experienced as of particular help in the design process of reforms while the Structural Support Reform System was used for reform implementation. Recommendations are to keep instruments simple and fit to beneficiaries’ needs. Also the role of external experts that provide important references for policy design is highlighted.
On the second day of the R&I Days, the Policy Hub organized four interesting sessions on the future of European research. We provide you with a few short reports from the Sessions our experts could attend.
Co-creating the EUROPEAN RESEARCH AREA with the next three presidencies
Following some introduction words by moderator Anna Panagopoulou, director of the Common Implementation Centre at DG Research & Innovation, a panel of experts talked about their experiences with the European Research Area (ERA) and its future. The panel with Wilfred Kraus, Deputy Director General from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany; Helena Pereira, Research Counsellor, PTP PermRep; Tomaz Boh, Director General, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport in Slovenia and Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe, talked about the accomplishments of ERA and future changes. They stressed the need to communicate the importance of ERA to researchers, citizens and politicians. During the discussion, the current Covid crisis was highlighted as an example that shows the need for scientifically grounded and evidence-based answers. Moreover, the Covid crisis has also highlighted the need for cooperation between Member States and researchers as an idea that has always been a driving force behind the ERA and where important developments have taken place over the last 20 years of the ERA.
The future of UNIVERSITIES in Europe: Supporting institutional transformations and the European University initiative
Jan Palmowski, Secretary General of the Guild of European-research-intensive Universities, moderated the session remotely. In the studio he was joined by Director-General Jean-Eric Paquet and Themis Christophidou, Director-General from DG Education and Culture (EAC). The other remote panelists were Sylvie Retailleau, President of Paris Saclay University and Peter Greisler from the German Ministry for Education and Research and Michael Murphy, President of the European University Association (EUA). The panel talked about the central role of universities in the new ERA and framed universities as important agents in the development of citizens and their environment to work on big challenges like climate adaptation. They concluded that important directions for higher education in the ERA are those of spatial distribution and sustainable and inclusive higher education. This was also underpinned by a video message from the European Student Union, representing 20 million students from 40 countries, which highlighted the need to strive for a more holistic approach, inclusiveness and the use of advanced technologies in higher education.
Towards an OPEN SCIENCE VISION for 2030
This session was moderated by Kostas Glinos, HoU Open Science, DG RTD who talked with the panelists Rebecca Lawrence, Managing Director F1000 Research Ltd; Eva Mendez, University Carlos III de Madrid and Chair of Open Science Policy Platform; Bernard Rentier, Former Rector of the University of Liege, Open Access pioneer; Jeroen Geurts, University Medical Center Amsterdam and Gareth O’Neill from Technopolis Group.
Moderator Kostas Glinos highlighted that in the last ten years efforts of the EC focused on opening up the outputs of science, but now Open Science is about the research process itself, even reinventing it. Fully realising Open Science will depend on radical changes on the assessment system for research in order to provide the incentives and rewards that are needed so that the system's favours quality over quantity favours open collaborative work over individualism and does not punish working between disciplines. The reform of the evaluation system will not be easy. The Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP) has addressed in the last year of its operation this major bottleneck of the system of incentives and rewards.
The panelists presented different aspects and parts of the Final Report of the OSPP “Progress on Open Science: Towards a Shared Research Knowledge System”, highlighting the need to change the current culture of science evaluation through the use of responsible metrics that favour qualitative over quantitative criteria. Among the shortcomings of the current system, the huge amount of dark data (never been published), a hyper-focus on high-impact journals and the lack of engagement with public to validate research and link it to society were mentioned.
SCIENTIFIC ADVICE to inform policymaking, balancing speed with certainty on emerging policy challenges
In this session, a panel of experts discussed best practices in providing scientific advice to policy makers in times of uncertainty and complexity. The panel, consisting of Barbara Prainsack, Professor for Comparative Policy Analysis and head of department for political science, as well as member of the ethics committee in the fields of Social and Economic Sciences of the University of Vienna; Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Paul Nurse, Director of the Crick Institute, Renzo Tomellini, Head of the Unit Policy & Programming Centre at the EC; Pearl Dykstra, Professor of Empirical Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Deputy Chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the Cabinet of European Commissioners and Carrie Wolinetz, Associate Director for Science Policy and the National Institute of Health (NIH), drew on learnings from the current crisis to make their arguments. In the discussion, the experts highlighted that policy makers should acknowledge uncertainty in the face of crisis but at the same time strive to reduce social and economic factors in order to help people cope with these uncertainties. Furthermore, they stressed the differences between the scientific and political system and highlighted how different logics within these systems can cause tensions. The experts argued for the need to embed science into policymaking but also to rethink science communication. This is also linked to the need for interdisciplinary and the inclusion of the the social sciences and humanities to develop excellent communications between science, society and policymaking. The invited experts furthermore highlighted the need for interdisciplinary work and collaboration.
On the third day, the Hub “Policy” included a session on “Strengthening cross-country and cross-sectoral talents circulation (ERA4YOU)” and one on “Research Infrastructures: The engine of the European Research Area”
Strengthening cross-country and cross-sectoral TALENTS CIRCULATION (ERA4YOU)
The discussion focused on effective measures for more balanced talent circulation in Europe, and how to increase permeability for mobility accross all sectors as well as how to improve interaction between all stakeholders:
- A balanced brain circulation is an „key ingredient“ for the future of ERA. Mechanisms to achieve this are for example the NCP support for MSCA NCPs in widening countries and the Seal of Excellence. The Widening fellowships, piloted in Horizon 2020, are a measure that has significantly contribued to researchers going to widening countries.
- A European dimension to research careers is needed allowing paths accross borders and sectors. Main challenges in talent circulation are 1) missing recognition – with short term contracts for researchers, low job security („permadoc phenomenon“), associated to structural and national issues; 2) cross-sectoral innovation and interdisciplinary work, in particular for the academic career paths, where there are still a lot of silos instead of openess to cooperation; 3) good training skills and content in research training: there should be a push to Open Science related skills in doctoral training; also train the trainer, more collaboration between career services and research services.
- The differences in renumeration is a central problem to achieve balanced brain circulation within Europe. There is a need for binding policies to synchronize national research systems, which is not easy to solve since the EU has limited power in research policy. There should be a push for the generalization of the HR strategy for researchers. The HR award is a great label and initiative, but support action is needed to turn action plans into practice, for real transformation.
- There are good mechanisms to enhance cooperation between business and research, in particular through the EIT, bringing actors from the knowledge triangle together; as well as the regional innovation scheme for sharing of good practice emerging from EIT, also enhancing the participation of the widening countries. Such mechanisms need to be strenghtened, aligned with programmes such as MSCA, with appropriate budget and visibility.
RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES: The engine of the European Research Area
In their contributions, the speaker focused on the subset of ESFRI-Roadmap / ERIC type RIs:
- ERICs (and in fact all EU Research Infrastructures) cover the whole scientific landscape and are critical to success of ERA; however the implementation of the ERIC regulation in MS is still a challenge. The Success Story Bulgaria was mentioned: Within 10 years the country (that is lacking in European Innovation Scoreboard indicators) managed to establish a national roadmap and join 10 ERICs.
- RI need to interact with other parts of Horizon Europe (e.g. MSCA, Clusters) and are an important pillar to realise the Horizon Europe Missions. Whether INFRA are single sited or distributed or virtual is not changing their potential impact. A recent example on how INFRA can help tackle societal challenges, could be seen during the Covid-19 crisis, where European Research Infrastructures have been at the forefront to provide services to Europe to overcome the Covid pandemic.
- Questions by attendees pivoted around the topics of underfunding of INFRA, national and EU alignment in strategic planning and the future role of Technology Infrastructures. Asked about the low funding for INFRA in Horizon Europe, one of the speakers expressed the view that there are enough RI on the field and funding should be more focused on the national side (MS) and coming from other pillars as well for the European RIs.