Simplification: the new main word in Horizon 2020

In the end of this year, the Seventh Framework Programme will reach its end and in 2014 we will open the door to Horizon 2020. According to the European Commission, this new Framework Programme “represents a radically new and comprehensive approach to the EU's research and innovation funding policies.”

Horizon 2020 will be implemented by a set of new Rules for Participation and Dissemination, which have been updated with the aim in particular to ensure simplification for the benefit of all those who will participate in this programme. An important dimension of the simplification concerns the fact that in Horizon 2020 participants will only have to work with a single main set of rules, including those on intellectual property rights, which apply to all components of Horizon 2020.

To know more about Horizon 2020, please click here. For further information on the different dimensions of simplification in Horizon 2020, please click here.

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Open Access to research publications: study on the availability of open access during 2004/2011

Recently, the European Commission identified open access to research results as an essential element to boost Europe’s innovation capacity. Consequently, the European Commission announced that it will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020. Hence, in Horizon 2020, the articles produced will be:

  • immediately made accessible online by the publisher ('Gold' open access) - up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission; or
  • made available through an open access repository no later than six months (12 months for articles in the fields of social sciences and humanities) after publication ('Green' open access).

According to a recent study, open access “represents 50% or more of scholarly journal articles published between 2008–2011 in Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and the United States.

The study therefore concludes that “these results either suggest that the proportion of peer-reviewed articles available in OA [open access] has been vastly underestimated or that the share of OA [open access] articles has grown significantly in recent years. Part of this growth could be retroactive, as journals progressively open their archived content and as researchers self-archive their work in OA [open access] repositories. However, growing awareness, new policies and infrastructure, as well as the growing credibility of OA [open access] journals and repositories, probably account for a larger part of OA [open access] growth.

To read the European Commission announcement, please click here. For further information on the study, click here.

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“Has the Commission ensured efficient implementation of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research?”

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) recently issued a special report entitled “Has the Commission ensured efficient implementation of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research?”. The ECA assessed whether the Commission has ensured efficient implementation of FP7. The audit covered the rules for participation, the Commission’s processes and the setting-up of two new instruments, and its results are likely to be useful not only for the remaining period of FP7, but also for the operational setup of the next research Framework Programme - Horizon 2020.

The report found that although the European Commission has taken a number of steps to bolster its management of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), researchers seeking FP7 funding are however faced with unnecessary inconsistencies.

Accordingly the ECA recommended:

a)      Regarding rules for participation, the Commission should make further efforts to ensure that  beneficiaries’ practices can be used in Horizon 2020 and manage FP7 in a more consistent  manner;

b)      To strengthen process management, the Commission should deploy IT tools which will integrate all functionalities and it should examine the imbalances in staff workload;

c)       To reduce processing times, the Commission should make sure that the processes are automated and implemented consistently across its services;

d)      The Commission should make its control activities before and after payment more risk-driven, so as to better focus its control effort; and

e)      The EU Council, European Parliament and the Commission should bring the legal framework of the Joint Technology Initiatives more into line with their staff complement. To maximise the impact of the Risk Sharing Finance Facility, the Commission should demonstrate that it targets those beneficiaries which have limited access to finance.

For further information and to read the special report in full, please click here.

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Discussions on the new strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation

The new strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation was presented in Brussels and discussed with representatives of the diplomatic community.

The strategy was presented by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who highlighted that “international cooperation will continue to be a vital part of the Union's research and innovation policy, and it will be an integral part of the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020”.  “An open discussion followed from which broad support for the new strategy emerged and a continued willingness to cooperate with the European Union.”

For further information, please click here and here.

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Council reached an agreement on Horizon 2020

Last week the Council reached an agreement on a partial general approach concerning the draft regulation laying down the rules for participation in research projects funded under Horizon 2020. This means that the Council has reached an agreement on the essential elements of this regulation, but the European Parliament's opinion is still necessary.

The draft regulation includes the rules on intellectual property rights, use and dissemination.

For further information, please click here.

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Horizon 2020: Reversing the Trend

Increasing industry participation in Horizon 2020 - the new framework programme for research and innovation (2014-2020) - was the topic of the parliamentary dinner debate organised by DIGITALEUROPE at the European Parliament.

Speakers elaborated on the main parameters determining industry participation. These are laid out in the proposed regulation on Rules for Participation: the adequate protection of companies’ intellectual property and the need for appropriate provisions for access to research data and results, as well as provisions regarding joint ownership and the transfer of ownership.

For more details, please click here

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Progress Report on the “Horizon 2020” package

At the end of last week, the Council of the European Union adopted a Progress Report on the “Horizon 2020” package, which includes the proposals for the specific programme, the new Rules for Participation and the EURATOM programme. This report presents the discussions within the Council on the three proposals, even though according to the document “most delegations have welcomed the aforesaid Commission proposals”.

Concerning the proposal for the new Rules for Participation, delegations expressed some concerns in terms of intellectual property. In fact, delegations have asked “for the insertion of clearer wording for a number of items, such as “background”, “fair and reasonable conditions” [and] “results””. Regarding the dissemination of results, Member States have asked, in particular, clarifications on the following issues:

  • the joint ownership provisions;
  • the “additional exploitation obligations” referred to in Article 40;
  • the “rationale behind the possibility for the Commission to gain access rights to the results of a participant and the possibility that the participant can object to that”; and
  • on the use of “Europe first” provisions, in particular with respect to participation of multi-national participants.”

To read this report, please click here.

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CEN CENELEC Position on Standardisation in Horizon 2020

CEN-CENELEC, the European Committees for Standardisation and for Electrotechnical Standardisation, have published their joint position on Horizon 2020.

CEN and CENELEC are fully committed to supporting the Horizon 2020 programme and helping to tackle barriers to innovation in Europe and consider that standardisation can contribute to all three key priorities of Horizon 2020, i.e. excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges. In the paper they propose a set of concrete steps to integrate standardisation within the framework of Horizon 2020. They then suggest including references to standardisation opportunities in the Horizon 2020 work programmes, and using standardisation to support the transfer of innovation to the market and increase the impact of research projects.

They also propose that the Horizon 2020 programme provide for the possibility for funding arrangements for necessary standardisation activities to be addressed at later stages of a project.

The CEN-CENELEC position paper is available here.

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