More time and perspectives needed to fully evaluate the Lump Sum Pilot

The Guild calls for university grant and financial managers to be included in any further evaluations of Horizon lump sum funding.

The European Commission recently published an assessment of the Lump Sum Pilot, done under Horizon 2020. While The Guild broadly supports the development of funding instruments that reduce administrative and management burdens, The Guild reinforces concerns raised in the sector, and raises additional reservations about the pilot and the conclusions drawn from it.

The Guild emphasizes the need, in any proper assessment, to include university grant and financial managers. Their perspectives have been ignored in the Commission’s assessment. Yet crucially, universities as legal entities take ultimate responsibility for the financial management of awarded grants. Thus, when evaluating whether lump sums provide a simplification from a university management perspective and if they are suitable for all research types, it is essential that the institutional perspective is included.

The Guild also raises a particular concern about the (unintended) exclusionary effects of lump sum funding for new participants, particularly in the context of widening participation, as well as disincentivising more risky ideas.

We call on the Commission to further consider the following aspects before implementing a broader role out of lump sum funding:

  1. It is essential that the institutional perspective is included.
  2. It is premature to move towards broader use of lump sum funding at this stage.
  3. Lump sum funding may have unintended consequences by incentivising applicants to take a risk averse approach, and negatively impacting on the widening agenda.

Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild, noted: “The concerns raised by the academic community – within and beyond The Guild – about the Lump Sum Pilot are evident, and we call on the Commission to ensure that these are taken into account in future drives to simplify the management of research grants in European framework programmes.”

7 January 2022

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Published Jan. 7, 2022 9:54 AM - Last modified Jan. 7, 2022 9:54 AM