Around 40 national representatives and experts from 23 countries gathered at the Swedish Research and Innovation Office in Brussels at the end of February to discuss the next European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, FP9. The meeting was organised by the Swedish Advocacy Platform for SwafS (Science with and for Society) and SiS.net2, the international network of National Contact Points for SwafS in Horizon 2020.
The aim of the meeting in Brussels was to identify common positions and develop a strategy for ensuring that important issues such as open science, citizen science, science communication, gender equality, stakeholder engagement in research and innovation and increasing interest in science in schools are addressed in the next framework programme, FP9. These issues are high on the European Commission’s agenda and are mentioned repeatedly in the Lamy report’s recommendations LAB-FAB-APP ”Investing in the European future we want”. However, they need to be continually highlighted to guarantee that they feature prominently in the next framework programme.
The Brussels meeting demonstrates how the Swedish SwafS Advocacy Platform, coordinated by VA (Public & Science), is working at a European level to strategically influence on-going discussions on the design of FP9.
”By working together with many other stakeholders both within and outside of the EU and by developing common messages, our combined views on the design of FP9 will have more of an impact than if each individual organisation tried to influence the European Commission on its own,” said Maria Hagardt, representing the Swedish SwafS Advocacy Platform.
”We have also received a lot of positive feedback about the way in which we are proactively working on these important EU-wide issues.”
Development of the next framework programme
As an introduction to the discussions, participants received a presentation from the Swedish Research and Innovation Office in Brussels and an update from Dan Andrée, Senior Advisor at Vinnova and the Swedish Government Offices, on what the overall design of FP9 looks like at the moment.
Adalheidur Jonsdottir, Coordinator of SiS.net2 and Communications Manager at Rannis, the Icelandic Centre for Research, presented how SwafS issues currently feature in the FP9 discussions. As it stands, SwafS is placed as an overarching horizontal issue outside of the three main pillars of the programme. (See an article in ScienceBusiness for more information). However, a lot can change as the process continues.
Why is a citizen perspective needed in FP9?
Science with and for Society is the only programme in Horizon 2020 that connects citizens, societal actors, researchers, innovators, industry and policy makers through interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial collaborations. Furthermore, the SwafS programme also supports and contributes to achieving several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals:
- Goal 4 Quality education
- Goal 5 Gender Equality
- Goal 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Goal 11 Sustainable cities and communities
In order for the EU to be competitive and able to solve global challenges, there needs to be substantial funding in research and innovation. But this also means funding research and activities that promote collaboration and active engagement of everyone in the research and innovation process so that together we can develop solutions that are sustainable, transparent and relevant to society.
Some of the main SwafS FP9 messages jointly formulated at the Brussels meeting were about how collaboration, involvement and engagement of society help to increase the EU’s attractiveness and competitiveness while helping to achieve global sustainability goals:
- A sustainable society needs solutions which are based on inclusiveness and the engagement of citizens in the research and innovation process. Researchers, innovators and policy makers also need to understand the citizen’s perspective and how to involve them.
- A democratic society needs tools and processes to support evidence-based policy making and a responsible and ethical framework. It also needs citizens with critical thinking skills and knowledge of scientific methods so they can identify and tackle alternative facts and fake news.
- An innovative and inclusive society needs educated and engaged citizens, researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators of all ages. It promotes citizens’ engagement in research and innovation, which helps develop sustainable solutions that are accepted by society. This can also lead to greater public understanding and trust in science.
What happens next?
The first draft of the next framework programme will be published for inservice consultation within the European Commission shortly. Then, both the European Parliament and the Council will review the content during 2019. The new framework programme will come into force in 2021 and continue until 2027. New information about FP9 is constantly being published, and there will continue to be opportunities to influence the design of the new framework programme.
One such an opportunity is by commenting on the recently published report by European Commissioner Carlos Moedas’ advisor, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, “Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union – A problem solving approach to fuel innovation-led growth”. The report outlines how the so-called missions are to be developed in FP9. You can provide feedback on the report to the European Commission via a dedicated EU Survey on Missions, which runs until 3 April.
For more information take a look at the Swedish SwafS Advocacy Platform’s position paper on FP9 ”Towards an Open Science Society” or contact Maria Lindholm or Maria Hagardt at VA, who are responsible for coordinating the work of the platform.