Fostering Impact and Sustainable Collaboration in FP9 within a new Common Research, Technology and Innovation Policy✎
The EU is facing a challenging situation where the legitimization of a European policy is being questioned in many areas, and national(istic) approaches are being put forward as alternatives. At the same time, global challenges are growing: from climate change and social inequalities, to ensuring sustainable development and inclusive growth while coping with new technological revolutions and increased competition. Against this background, a renewed emphasis towards new and newly arising challenges and opportunities for Europe is needed. This has to be complemented by an adapted justification for European RTI policies as well as strong rationales for Europe. This applies also to the EU Framework Programme (EU FP) – the largest research technology and innovation (RTI) programme in the world – which has become a major determinant of RTI policy for many European countries and of the European Research Area. Although several elements of the EU FPs have become unique success stories, the design of the current FP Horizon 2020 relies to a significant extent on rationales, structures and procedures inherited from earlier generations of European FPs. Its governance, funding and incentive structures, while having quite some positive impact overall, do not realise its full potential and do not contribute enough to addressing the global challenges. A bold orientation towards the new global developments and new framework conditions requires rethinking of the policy context, governance structures and instruments. Thus making sure, that Europe will be set up to take a pro-active approach as real global player based on research and innovation.
Fundamental requirements and principles:
To have a much greater impact in the future with respect to the challenges mentioned, a truly ‘Common Research, Technology and Innovation Policy (CoRTIP)’ is needed. The purpose of CoRTIP is to put the structures and mechanisms of RTI policy at European and national levels as effectively and efficiently as possible to work, by serving as a common framework to align EU and national policies and enhance synergies and complementarity. Such a CoRTIP would extend well beyond the FP, but the FP is an important part of it. Essential principles of such a common policy should be:
- a clearer focus on genuinely European themes which would imply a stronger selectivity in terms of what is addressed in FP9;
- a much better alignment of European and national RTI policies, which demands the development of new mechanisms for priority set-ting, work programme definition and (co)funding and/or the substantial improvement of existing mechanisms;
- a continued and increased emphasis on contributing to solving ‘grand societal challenges’. Here, the aim should be to take the global pole position in addressing societal challenges in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To this end, we need to arrive at real European and better-articulated ‘mission-oriented policies’ with clearly-defined goals in policy areas such as health, environment, climate change, food safety and security, social cohesion and European identity, mobility, energy and security;
- a strengthening of the interfaces between the three pillars. While supporting an overall architecture of the next FP along the lines of the three pillars of Horizon 2020, we underline the necessity of improving the interaction and exchange between these pillars;
- participatory elements and an inclusive approach (at least in areas where societal issues are addressed) are vital. Involving end-users, citizens and a broad variety of other actors can boost innovativeness, speed up dissemination processes and help to develop new business models and social innovations.
While we would like to see the FP having much more impact in terms of relevant innovation and contribution to addressing societal challenges, we would at the same time like to see the profile of FP9 sharpened and ensured that it is a programme focussed on R&I. The greater impact on innovation and societal challenges should not come from incorporating more and more instruments of RTI policy into the FP, in particular when these instruments are very close to the market and resort to general economic policy at the level of member states. Rather; we would seek an enhanced impact via better orchestration with other instruments and with other policy areas, and greater coherence in the use of different policy instruments including those outside the FP (e.g. by ESIF, EIB, EUREKA…).
We would like to see the recognition that innovation is more than technology established as a principle in past Framework Programmes. Innovation includes various kinds of non-technical innovation (e.g. business model innovation, social innovation, policy innovations, and transformative systems innovations) as well as the recognition of social sciences and humanities (SSH) and arts-based research as an integral part of this understanding of RTI. Also, the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) should be fully recognised as a guiding orientation for all pillars of FP9.
Finally, international cooperation should be firmly anchored, empowered and exercised at the European level to drive the European RTI internationalisation agenda forward. The EU Member States should be involved in this process and embed their national cooperation interests in the wider European internationalisation agenda. International opening up and cooperation in RTI, however, should be based on strategic guidelines that reflect the ambiguous nature of international RTI: it has advantages but can also result in strategic and first-mover knowledge being leaked. Thus, issues concerning intellectual property rights must be considered from the onset.