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Commission updates Horizon 2020 work programmes

EU makes open science the new norm and earmarks €11 million for research on migration. Free availability of data is a response to the post-factual age, Carlos Moedas tells the Euroscience conference in Manchester

Carlos Moedas speaking at ESOF in Manchester
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The European Commission has released an update to the Horizon 2020 work programme for 2017, which includes 50 calls worth €8.5 billion. The money will be spent on projects in the fields of food security, smart cities, migration studies, and more.

The calls put emphasis on jobs and growth, but there are two new items on the funding menu: open science and migration.

For the first time, a significant chunk of the funding is made available to coordinate research communities and make policy recommendations to facilitate labour market integration of migrants. The Commission is putting forward €11 million dedicated to social scientists who want to do research to explain the effects of migration and find ways to integrate migrants into the labour force.

Also, under the updated work programme, the open research data initiative is no longer just a pilot project, but as of 2017 it will become the default setting. This will boost transparency and allow researchers to replicate studies more easily, contributing to public trust in science, the R&D Commissioner, Carlos Moedas told the Euroscience Open Forum in Manchester.

“The commission has made open data the default for all Horizon 2020 projects,” Moedas said, a move he hopes will address problems raised by globalisation. Although it provides the international integration that makes it possible for countries to work together on global challenges, such as climate change and migration, in its current form globalisation has fallen short of benefitting the majority of people, he said.

“A scientist can explain how renewable energy can help to combat climate change, but how does that help someone who cannot afford to heat their home? A politician can explain the net benefits of migration, but how does that help someone who cannot get a doctor's appointment?” Moedas asked.

He suggested that the current lack of public and political engagement in fact-based decision-making means the world has entered a "post-factual" era of democracy. This is a world in which, “The public identifies with populist rhetoric and decisions are made based on fears and assumptions, because people feel science and politics have left them behind.”

The question is what to do about this. “I believe many of the answers lie in open science,” Moedas said. “Open access to data needs trust and transparency. Public acceptance requires research integrity and citizen science brings scientists closer to people.”

The future of knowledge economy will rely on public access to data, allowing the public to take part in scientific debate and directly access scientific evidence on the issues they care about.

But with greater availability of scientific data, comes the need to ensure the integrity of what is being shared. The public needs to know that research results are not falsified, fabricated or plagiarised.

“This is why we're putting more focus on research integrity in Horizon 2020 model grant agreements,” Moedas told delegates. Grant agreements for Horizon 2020 have been updated to include clearer rules on research integrity, making sure that all researchers and research institutions know their obligations. The grant agreements for the 2017 calls have also been updated.

A proposed revision on the EU copyright law aims to introduce an exemption for research in the copyright law, so that researchers can fully take advantage of the opening up of science. The law allows them to mine text and data, “Without worrying about copyright,” said Moedas.

Other priorities for 2017

  • €1.45 billion of the total funding will be allocated to SMEs. This includes a dedicated instrument for over 1,000 innovative SMEs worth €438 million
  • The European Research Council will launch calls worth €1.8 billion
  • A budget of €133 million has been allocated for the development of green vehicles, while €84 million are routed to innovations in energy storage, renewables and energy grid
  • €280 million will be allocated for research in nutrition security
  • €225 million will be routed to boosting and renewing Europe's industrial capacities
  • €332 million are allocated for research on personalised medicine worth
  • €227 million will go to the Mobility for Growth call
  • €48 million are allocated to research on security, terrorism, and the prevention of organised crime.  
  • Another €56 million are earmarked for starting the implementation of the recently signed public-private partnership on cybersecurity.
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Related subjects: ESOF, Horizon 2020, Horizon 2020 budget