Public Science|Business Annual Network Conference (13:30 – 17:30 CET)
As the European Commission elaborates its plans and priorities for the next decade, research and innovation (R&I) are continuously highlighted as a critical driver of the continent’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its long-term green, digital transformation and global competitiveness.
Yet the early signs are that this rhetoric may be constrained by political and economic realities. As a case in point, recent negotiations over the next multi-year EU budget and recovery plan saw member-states take an axe to the proposed funding for Horizon Europe (the next R&I Framework Programme), the new EU4Health initiative, and others. In the marathon race to achieve sustainable, secure futures for European industries and citizens alike, it appears that the EU is tying its own shoelaces together before it even crosses the starting line.
As Horizon Europe prepares to launch, therefore, serious questions remain as to whether the whole of European R&I can somehow be made greater than the sum of its parts. Can the Commission establish genuine synergies between Horizon and other flagship instruments, such as the InvestEU, Just Transition and Innovation Funds or Digital Europe? Will member states and associated countries agree to align their own resources and programmes with Europe’s R&I ambitions? Within Horizon itself, can the Commission build stronger pathways between fundamental science and market competitiveness, define a compelling value proposition for industry, and engage citizens throughout the R&I process? And in the global context, can Europe realistically expect to achieve its strategic goals in domains such as climate without China (and the US) on board?
On February 22 and 23, Science|Business will convene leading figures from across its own Network and the international R&I spectrum to address these issues in more depth.