What might follow Horizon 2020? An awful lot more funding

3 Jul 2017

Image: karlibri/Shutterstock

Horizon 2020 still has a few years to run but the EU is already planning for subsequent programmes. More money will be needed, though.

Horizon 2020 (H2020) is one of the more successful EU-wide initiatives, with €77bn allocated for research and innovation projects. Any successor should blow that out of the water, though.

That’s according to Pascal Lamy, former director general of the World Trade Organisation, who today (3 July) called for a vast increase in funding for any subsequent, complementary programme.

What will follow?

There is still around two-thirds of H2020 funding to be awarded, with the latest figures showing that Ireland is bang on track for its 1.67pc target, but eyes are already cast on what will follow in the next decade.

Calling €120bn the “bare minimum” required for the next instalment, Lamy was forthright in what he felt was needed for any future scientific endeavour.

“It is a well-known fact that we must invest more in research and innovation because we are moving to an economy that is more and more dematerialised, where brain juice and talent will be the main resource,” he said.

Lamy thinks one of the main problems in scientific funding in Europe is not the research, but the monetising of that research. He added that the EU’s role in this is “not only in turning money into science, but in turning science into money”.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Speaking as the EU released its dedicated report on the future European investment, Lamy also argued that member states are not all on the same level.

Newer members, for example, have yet to catch up with established states. “We need more efforts on both sides,” he said.

He also noted “a problem with speed, because other countries like the US, China, Japan and Korea are investing more than we do. We have to catch up.”

Brexit effect

Brexit is throwing as many spanners in as many EU works as possible. When the vote for the UK to leave the EU passed last summer, researchers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were instantly worried.

At the time, The Guardian reported on a “wave of discrimination against UK researchers”, with academics encouraged to leave leadership roles on collaborative projects because they are “considered a financial liability”.

However, the EU’s latest report strongly proposes a continuation of the norm, with an outed UK still involved in future funding. This, reads the report, is “an obvious win-win” for both the UK and the EU, with a full secession from the union to be completed ahead of H2020’s end.

“The UK has one of the strongest science bases of all European countries. A positive cooperation model (eg, based on mutual investment) should be established so that the UK remains part of the European Research Area.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic