Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Feedback from FP8 Conference

The EC held a conference in Brussels on 10 June to discuss 'the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation'. Yes, I know it's a bit of a mouthful, but don't yawn and click on to a more interesting page. This is important, as it sees the EC taking the first faltering steps towards formulating the replacement for the Framework Programme (FP7).

UKRO have provided an excellent summary of the conference. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, fed back the findings of the recent consultation on FP8. No great surprises here: people were generally supportive of the proposals to coordinate and amalgamate a number of European funding streams, that there was a need for 'radical simplification' (hallelujah!), keep what works, jettison what doesn't, and cover all stages of the research process, from blue skies, to directed, to follow on and exploitation.

Her talk was followed by those of a number of different stake holders, including representatives from the ERC, CERN, and EuroHORCs, as well as the erstwhile Commissioner for Research, Janez Potočnik. There was some talk about the need for an increased budget, but I do worry that research funding will be a casualty to the tough economic times we're living through, and the bail out of Greece and Ireland will leave little room - or appetite - for bigger central budgets. But let's hope.

And finally...the conference was an opportunity to hear the shortlist for the new framework's name. They - foolishly - ignored my suggestion of FP8, and went instead for either:
  • Discover 2020
  • Horizon 2020
  • Imagine 2020
Which all make me feel a bit queasy, if I'm frank. Sort of remind me of people standing around a field holding bottles of Coke and watching the sunrise, singing. Or, worse still, an infantilisation of research, like they're aimed at getting five year olds interested in science. Can you really see yourself suggesting to an academic that they consider an application to 'Imagine 2020'? With a straight face? No, me neither. Anyway, you can vote for your favourite before 17 June.

Shame there's no option for 'none of the above'...

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