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What’s on the Horizon? Framing the next 40 years of European R&I

A public conference celebrating 40 years of the EU’s Framework Programmes, and 20 years of Science|Business (09:30-17:30 CET)

In 2024, the EU will reach an important milestone: the 40th anniversary of the launch of its first Framework Programme (FP) for research. On the occasion of its annual Network conference, Science|Business – which will more modestly celebrate 20 years of its own existence – will convene international leaders from across the science, technology and innovation spectrum to take stock of what the FPs have delivered to date, analyse their impact on Europe and on global R&D cooperation, and discuss future directions for the EU in science and technology.  

Among the central themes to be addressed: As the EU institutions and member-states begin their deliberations on what will succeed Horizon Europe, how should the Framework Programme evolve in its 10th edition, and is the current approach the best in the long run? Is Europe ready to invest what it takes to remain a global leader in critical technology domains? Can policy and regulation keep pace with breakthrough science and drive innovation in industrial R&D ecosystems? What will the world look like 40 years from now, and what will be the role of science and technology in ensuring the planet remains a safe, clean and healthy place to live? And given current geopolitical trends, how to ensure that the world continues to work together on R&I and not follow divergent paths?   

On February 12-13, join us in Brussels and online – along with past, current and possibly future architects of the Framework Programme – for a celebration of the EU’s journey to date, and more importantly a forward-looking exploration of what the next four decades may hold. 


Preliminary agenda

09:00     Welcome and formal opening of the conference


[Theme and speaker TBC]  


Back to the future – Part I: Lessons learned from 40 years of EU Framework Programmes 

Opening panel with former Commissioners on the evolution and impact of the FPs, from 1984 to the present day.


Boom or bust: Celebrating the best (and worst) projects in FP history 

A light-hearted look at the most notable successes and (relative) failures over the past 40 years of EU-funded R&D.    

10:30     Coffee break


Back to the future – Part II: Science|Business at 20, and anticipating the next two decades of industrial R&D

 Panel discussion on what S|B has learned from two decades of following and reporting on EU industrial R&D policy and programmes, and the key factors that may define the next 20 years.

11:45     Transition break               


Game changers: What could revolutionise FP10?

 Parallel workshops exploring the potentially transformative impact of new concepts and resources – such as deep tech, common data spaces or next generation infrastructures – on the design and delivery of Europe’s next Framework Programme.

13:00     Networking lunch


United or divided: Will the planet be working together on R&I in 2050?

Science is universal, runs the old adage, yet the 21C world order is placing that in increasing jeopardy. Can R&I survive geopolitics and keep its borders open? Are we headed for a multipolar future defined by competition and hostility? Will a successor to the UN SDGs be required to hold the system together? And should the EU abandon association as a tool to promote international cooperation?

14:45     Transition break  


Balancing acts: Can policy and regulation keep pace with breakthrough science?

 Parallel workshops addressing the future challenge for policy and regulation to anticipate the speed and societal impact of globally transformative technologies before they reach the mainstream – such as quantum, genomics, climate engineering, or brain-computer interfaces.  

16:00     Coffee break


[Theme and speaker TBC] 


Framework vs. programmes: How can Europe secure global leadership in R&I beyond Horizon?  

A closing session to address what the current and next Commissions will need to do to anticipate and prepare for a volatile, hypercompetitive future in science and technology. Is the FP model still fit for purpose, or does the EU need to fundamentally rethink its strategy and approach to funding R&I? How to win the political argument at member state level for scaling up and ringfencing R&I budgets? And what role for industry in FP10 and beyond? 

17:30     Close of conference and networking reception


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For further information, please contact [email protected]