Open across Europe – Open to the World: Collaborative research and innovation for a sustainable future
In its position paper on the next Framework Programme (FP9), the Guild calls for strengthening European science and innovation to enable us better to address the challenges of our sustainable global development, as articulated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To this end, Europe should capitalise on the outstanding (and proven) capacity of its researchers and innovators to provide new knowledge for solving the fundamental problems of our time through frontier-led research.1 In addition, the collaboration of researchers on a European and global scale is a precondition to tackling the complex challenges we face.
The Guild supports the Commission’s call for the EU to provide a distinctive contribution to address the SDGs, building on the Bohemia Foresight Study’s scenarios of the most fundamental societal challenges of tomorrow.2 The Guild outlines its priorities for mission-driven research:
- Missions must articulate Europe’s major issues in such a way that they allow scientists to formulate key research questions, and align these to wider social concerns.
- The scale of the SDGs requires the interdisciplinary engagement of all fields of knowledge – including the full participation of researchers in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
- Mission-driven research must enable collaborative bottom-up initiatives: the Guild calls for 30% of the budget for mission-driven research to be devoted to bottom-up research collaborations as a way to identify key research problems that help address Europe’s fundamental challenges in relation to the SDGs.
The Guild also calls for further strengthening collaboration and researcher mobility across borders, noting that collaboration must always be based on excellence. It could be incentivised by:
- Amending the additional evaluation criteria that are applied when proposals receive the same score on the principal evaluation and it is no longer possible to distinguish on the basis of excellence. For these rare cases the Guild supports the use of gender balance and geographic diversity as additional evaluation criteria.
- Issuing thematic calls, open to researchers from across Europe, to address specific issues that could benefit from distinctive regional perspectives.
International collaboration is of critical importance. Cooperation with researchers around the world must be significantly strengthened, so as to ensure that European science and innovation are truly ‘open to the world’. A focus on the SDGs will help link European concerns with those of researchers worldwide. The Guild welcomes the Commission’s leadership in setting common norms and standards that are easy to apply, thus facilitating worldwide research collaboration.
1 See, for instance, the ERC publication: Migration and Asylum: The contribution of frontier resaerch to the undersatnding of human mobility across frontiers (31 March 2017).
2 Andrea Ricci, Carlo Sessa, Matthias Weber: New Horizons: Future Scenarios for Research and Innovation Policies in Europe (Luxembourg: European Commission, 2017).