Monday, 10 October 2011

Horizon 2020: Reading the Runes

UKRO, the UK Research Office in Brussels, have summarised where we're at with the development of Horizon 2020. If you belong to a subscribing institution, you can access this summary here.

It makes interesting reading, as much for reading between the lines as for the lines themselves. Whilst there's still plenty of gestation time for the EC's new baby, you can get a sense of how its developing. I've talked about the overall shape of Horizon 2020 elsewhere, but some recent developments that UKRO has highlighted include:
  • EIT: there's no separate provision for the European Institute of Technology. To me, this suggests that they want closer integration with other parts of the Framework Programme, but does it also mean that the EIT is quietly being sidelined or shelved, that it is being reabsorbed back into the body from which it emerged?
  • ERC: the latest proposals don't specify the different schemes as 'objectives'. This suggests that the EC wants to allow the ERC room to develop and introduce new schemes as and when necessary. Which, in turn, suggests that the EC has confidence in the Council, and is going to allow it a little more independence.
  • Societal Challenges: this is based around six multidisciplinary areas. These are evolving as we speak, but some interesting developments recently. These include 'Smart, Green & Integrated Transport,' for which the EC has added a new section on 'evidence-based transport policy for the long term.' So the EC is wanting to expand future transport beyond the scientific and technical to include socio-economic policy implications. 'Resource Efficiency & Climate' has changed its name to 'Climate Action & Resource Efficiency including Raw Materials', which makes clearer the overall aim and direction of the challenge, and ecosystems have been made more of a priority within this. 'Inclusive, Innovative & Secure Societies', which is closest to the current 'Socioeconomic Sciences & Humanities', has been simplified, and appears to be moving away from the FP7 theme from which it emerged. Whilst the Humanities were never a huge player in FP7, it looks like it will be even less so under Horizon 2020.
  • Marie Curie: the EC is obviously wanting to drum home exactly what each of the Marie Curie schemes will do. They've ditched the original headings, and gone for headings that provide more explanation of what each scheme is intended for. For example 'Research staff exchange' becomes 'stimulating innovation through cross-fertilisation of knowledge.' Got it?
  • Industrial Leadership & Competitiveness Frameworks: not a lot of change here, although in the most recent drafts the EC is emphasising the need for these underlying technologies to link more explicitly to the societal challenges.
I would encourage you to read the UKRO document in full, and sign up for alerts that will keep you up to date with developments.

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