Academy voices support for common strategy in EU research and innovation funding

(25th May 2011)

The Academy of Finland takes the view that high-quality research and innovation is crucial to advancing the well-being of individuals, the environment and society. It also lays the foundation for sound and viable business. Research and innovation provides societies with the tools they need to resolve the challenges they face and to regenerate. The Academy of Finland considers it important that the EU supports cutting-edge research and innovation. The Academy also supports the key idea advanced in the EC Green Book for the integration of different EU research and innovation funding programmes.

The Academy of Finland presented its statement on the EC Green Book regarding the future of EU research and innovation funding to the Parliamentary Education and Culture Committee on 10 June.

Focus on quality

It is the Academy of Finland’s position that the new research and innovation funding programme should be geared to supporting high-quality research and innovation. The Academy takes the view that quality must remain the single most important criterion for funding.

Under the EU’s ongoing Seventh Framework Programme for Research, funding for top-level European research has been channelled through the European Research Council (ERC). ERC funding is allocated strictly on the basis of scientific quality and innovativeness. According to the Academy, the ERC has proved a great success. It has launched new procedures to streamline application and administrative practices, which has been particularly well received among researchers.

Simpler funding programmes

In most disciplines, the most basic requirements for doing research are datasets and equipment, the Academy points out in its statement. The compilation and maintenance of large datasets and the installation of hardware often require such a substantial input that they are beyond the capacity of individual countries. Therefore, cooperation and joint funding programmes are often the best way to overcome the obstacles related to datasets and expensive equipment.

The idea behind the integration of research and innovation funding programmes is to simplify and streamline application procedures and the administration of EU research and innovation funding. The Academy takes the view that this streamlining exercise must be carried as far as possible in all areas of research and innovation funding. Ultimately, the aim is an increased level of trust in research funding applicants.

Grand social challenges must be addressed

Finland, Europe and the world are constantly faced by new grand challenges. How do we combat climate change? How do we respond to the challenges presented by ageing society? How do we ensure sustainable energy production now and in the future? The best and most creative researchers have a key role to play in promoting science and innovation as well as in tackling the grand challenges of the future. For this reason, the Academy of Finland takes the view that EU research and innovation funding should be targeted at addressing these challenges.

The same grand challenges also concern societies across borders. States should pool their resources so that they can address and resolve the challenges of research and innovation. The Academy of Finland shares the view that EU research and innovation programmes should provide funding for these kinds of coordination efforts.

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