With an ambitious Horizon 2020 (H2020) package, the European Union gave a strong sign concerning the importance research and innovation can play in strengthening Europe’s economic growth and social welfare. The ICT industry in general – and the member companies of DIGITALEUROPE in particular – have welcomed this effort, and have been eager to continue their participation in collaborative research, following their engagement in previous framework programs.
As first H2020 consortia and projects start to take shape, DIGITALEUROPE would like to offer with this paper its comments on the functioning of the new “system”, drawing from members’ direct experience. DIGITALEUROPE’s recommendations focus on what would need further improvement in order to make sure that (1) the EU maximizes industry participation, in accordance with Horizon 2020’s objectives; (2) the key role of ICT as an innovation enabler across industries is recognized and strengthened in the next Work Programmes.
The ICT industry participation to EU R&D funding programs has brought a number of important benefits, and has also allowed stakeholders from academia and other industries to take advantage of such resources. Moreover, it is worth noting that half of the economic growth in Europe is related to the introduction of ICT to other sectors, while 5% of European GDP, with an annual value of about € 660 billion, is generated today by the ICT sector itself. It can continue to grow, providing more highly skilled jobs in knowledge intensive organisations, if we invest now.
DIGITALEUROPE therefore strongly believes that European investment in H2020 needs to continue focusing (1) on collaborative research of the highest scientific and technical quality, (2) on impact, including the capacity to deliver timely results that will form the basis of the next generation of global technologies and services, and (3) on strengthening Europe’s industrial leadership and to address societal challenges.
Given the essential role ICT plays in supporting other sectors, we argue that it needs to be kept as an independent area of collaborative research efforts in the LEIT part of H2020. Furthermore, ICT must be given sufficient budget allocation, to ensure that future generations of technologies can be researched while, at the same time, the latest available ICT products and services based on previous research investments are used to solve societal challenges and to improve Europe’s competitiveness.
Against this framework, DIGITALEUROPE details below possible improvements to operational issues which we think would allow taking more into consideration the inherent characteristics of the ICT industry.
While DIGITALEUROPE acknowledges that formal changes to Horizon 2020 framework cannot be adopted ahead of the mid-term review, we strongly hope these contributions can be taken into account to improve current and future effectiveness of the programme’s implementation – namely in view of Work Programme 2016-2017. Our members stand ready to offer further contribution toward the mid-term review process, drawing from their experience and expertise on the ground.