© James Cridland
© James Cridland

Academics call for research programme ideas

A think tank set up by the Austrian government has called for simpler rules, more robust evaluation, and greater participation from non-EU researchers for the next EU research programme.

According to leading Austrian researchers, who are the first to publicly float ideas for Horizon 2020’s successor, the next EU research programme needs radical simplification and reinforced management and evaluation.

The 15-member 9th Framework Programme (FP9) Think Tank, set up by the government, has outlined its thoughts. The group, which includes former president of the European Research Council (ERC) Helga Nowotny, gathered recommendations in meetings held between May and September in Vienna, Austria.

The report said: ‘In view of the challenging over-all situation the EU is facing, [FP9] should, above all, instil a renewed sense of purpose and belief into the future of Europe and the EU, based on the enormous potential that science, research, technology and innovation continue to generate.’

The current EU research programme, Horizon 2020, runs until the end of 2020.

The report added: ‘More emphasis and more resources must be invested into managing the programme, not for the sake of increased bureaucracy and control, but for improving the uptake and impact of the research funded.’

It also suggested that there should be a transparent process conducted by independent experts for the selection of new research themes for FP9. Choices should not be based on ‘national or sectoral lobbying’.

The legislative proposal for FP9 is expected to be published in spring 2018, when Austria will hold the presidency of the EU. The programme is due to start on 1 January 2021.