LERU wants more for EU research and innovation than “Lab-fab-app”
LERU welcomes the report "LAB-FAB-APP, Investing in the European future we want" on maximising the impact of EU research and innovation programmes by the “Lamy high-level group” published today. Mr Pascal Lamy and colleagues have produced a thought-provoking paper, containing some expected, but also unexpected and novel ideas, some of which will need to be better understood and unpacked. LERU is convinced the Lamy report will help all stakeholders to prepare for the next Framework Programme (FP) for Research and Innovation (R&I), and to foster a broader discussion on the future of the research policy landscape in Europe, especially in light of the ongoing discussions about the future EU budget.
LERU agrees with the eleven high-level messages, which are to a large extent in agreement with the views expressed in LERU’s recent paper on FP9 “Beyond the Horizon”, such as the need to prioritise EU (and national) budgets for R&I, to increase the budget for the ERC and MSCA, and to adopt a mission-driven and impact-focused approach.
However, LERU disagrees with a few of the specific suggestions in the report:
- As a high-level strategic body, the EIC should include at least one academic innovation expert. Its primary role is to advise. It should not become a funding council (section 2).
- Making EU labels for universities may not be the best way to achieve actual change, for instance on open science and internal assessment procedures (section 3).
- No additional and separate industry schemes in MSCA are needed (section 3).
- Spreading excellence and widening participation should not be done by assisting regions in setting up transnational, mission-like smart specialisation strategies with FP money (section 6).
- Offering FP project applicants the choice between cost-based or lump-sum payments is not likely to lead to further simplification (section 7).
- National R&I strategies should not be subject to EU-supported international peer review but continue to be dealt with through the European semester exercise (section 9).
- An online “EU University” is not the best way of linking EU-supported researchers or innovators with R&I related questions from citizens (section 11).
There are other ideas and suggestions in the report where it is unclear what exactly the Lamy group has in mind. One of these points is what (if any) incentives FP9 should provide for the modernisation of universities. LERU recognises the importance of the modernisation agenda and of stimulating the open science agenda, also in universities. At the same time, however, it is important to not overly complicate the FP. It should continue to be manageable from an operational point of view and its funding should be focused on a limited number of objectives. Mission drift of the FP should be avoided!
Another example is the recommendation that KICs should be directly incorporated in FP9. LERU would be against KICs receiving direct funding streams from a global challenges programme, for example.
Says Prof. Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU: “The report contains many good ideas and interesting suggestions. Unfortunately it is not very focused and some ideas are unclear. It will be important to follow up on this report in further discussions with stakeholders to unpack and clarify the ideas and suggestions. LERU is certainly willing and keen to engage in such a dialogue.”
In a separate policy brief LERU responds point by point to the 11 recommendations.