Would-be candidates given more time to submit applications to join the five advisory boards which will shape the new research missions
The European Commission has extended the deadline for applications to join the five advisory boards that will design Horizon Europe’s research missions to Sunday, 16 June.
The original deadline was Tuesday, 11 June, just four weeks after the call for applications went out on 13 May. But the Commission postponed the date at the request of would-be applicants, following a flurry of last-minute submissions. Commission sources said the dedicated e-mail account for applications has received around 1,700 emails.
The delay looks awkward, given the Commission is trying to keep a tight schedule for the complex preparations for Horizon Europe, the EU’s next research programme, so that it can begin on time at the start of 2021. But officials say the new missions don’t have to launch at the same time, meaning a delay in forming mission boards will not necessarily cause a problem.
Missions are one of Horizon Europe’s novel features not included in the current programme, Horizon 2020. While their exact nature will be defined by the mission boards, the idea is that they will concentrate research funding on particular goals.
The mostly-agreed Horizon Europe legislation does not specify these goals; instead, it sets out five broad topics: adapting to climate change; cancer; healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters; smart, climate-neutral cities; and soil health and food.
There will be a 15-member board for each topic. Each board can scope one or more missions around each topic, but Commission sources say the idea is to keep the number of missions fairly small.
The Commission wants to appoint board members from a diversity of professional backgrounds, including industry, public policy, academics and research and innovation experts.
Sources say the board chairs are expected to be announced first, possibly at a forthcoming EU Council meeting in Helsinki on 4 July, after Finland takes over the Council Presidency from Romania on 1 July.
After that, board members are due to be appointed in the lead-up to the Research and Innovation Days conference on 24-26 September, when the commission will seek inputs on the planning process for Horizon Europe.