It is hard to not pick up the newspaper today or listen to the nightly news without hearing a story about another country within the European Union that is requesting money to prevent its economy from collapse. From Greece to Spain to Italy, the news stories are alarming. We, here in the US, sometimes become jaded into thinking things like “How can their governments let that happen?”or “Didn’t they see this coming and what did they do about it?” In reviewing some information for an upcoming conference in Europe, I listened to very short videos from over thirty (30) different individuals throughout Europe. These individuals, some researchers, some CEOs, some higher education individuals, all had one thing in mind and that was the need for the European community to join together in taking what is so often on paper and in presentations and translating that into real tangible products that will help grow and strengthen the European economy. That is the basis for Horizon 2020.
The Prelude to Horizon 2020 was the adoption of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) which began in 2007. This initiative took the best of previous initiatives and also expanded them in duration (from what was 4 years to 7 years) to show a commitment to sustaining European Research. With that programme now coming to an end, the European Commission has set forth the initiative known as Horizon 2020 which, in their words, “is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.” Horizon 2020 has an 80 billion Euro budget aimed at creating new growth and jobs in Europe and kicks off in 2014. The Goals of the initiative are clearly defined:
- Strengthen the EU’s position in Science
- Strengthen industrial leadership, provide a major investment in key technologies, greater access to capital, and greater support for small to medium enterprise (SME)
- Address major concerns shared by all Europeans on climate change, sustainable transport and mobility and renewable energy
There is most definitely the opportunity for international cooperation but it will be on a level that will foster the goals above. In my opinion, it will be essential that the lines of communication and collaboration are free and open, as well as a streamlined governance mechanism is available so these initiatives can be achieved.
As the year progresses, I will be discussing more details around the program as Europe gets closer and closer to the January, 2014 inception date. To read more about Horizon 2020, visit their web-site at http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm?pg=h2020