A public Science|Business Widening conference (09:00 – 16:00 CET)
Despite years of trying, eastern Europe still lags the west in its success in research and innovation. As an example, just 5.7% of the EU’s flagship research programme, Horizon 2020, went to the region – causing political tensions within the EU. “Widening” is the name for the European Commission’s €3.3 billion plan to broaden the networks and opportunities for R&D cooperation across the EU, and bridge the East-West innovation gap. At the same time, member states have agreed to relaunch the European Research Area, the EU flagship effort to create a single market for research that would help boost public and private R&D investments across the EU. The plans sound good on paper but the implementation will be tricky. Some eastern member states have already started reforming their R&D systems, but others are still struggling to get their public investment in R&D above 0.2% of GDP.
Yet the potential in the region is huge, with multinationals investing there, long academic traditions ready to foster young scientists, and a promising crop of tech start-ups, spin-offs and projects springing up from Riga to Belgrade. Who are these people? How to make sure they stay in the region? A recent report of the European Court of Auditors observes that widening measures can only nudge countries in the right direction – but cannot make up for a lack of reforms and investment in lagging member states. To what extent EU and national instruments in place help retain and attract talents? From a policy perspective, what is required to streamline their functioning? What else can be done? What are the lessons learned to ensure that the next generation of scientists in central and eastern Europe are better integrated in EU programmes?
On 10 November 2022, during the Czech Presidency of the EU, Science|Business will gather R&D leaders – from the public and private sectors – in central and eastern Europe, as well as those in Brussels and other western capitals eager to bridge the gap between east and west. The conference is the first regional event organised as part of the newly-launched Science|Business Widening initiative.