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Horizon 2020 needs innovation councils, say research and tech organisations

Horizon 2020 needs to set up innovation councils to better streamline the work of different projects, the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations has said.

In a position paper published on 8 November, Earto suggests setting up one independent council for each of Horizon 2020’s societal challenges and for the industrial leadership budget heading. Such bodies would be necessary to “bring order to the confusing array of actually and potentially competing” EU funding programmes or structures, Earto says.

The innovation councils would help to provide an “over-arching governance framework” to help Horizon 2020 remain focussed on innovation. In addition, these bodies would ensure that “the self-interest of existing structures” does not undermine the programme’s objectives, Earto states.

“[The innovation councils] should give on-going strategic advice on present and future planned actions as well as draw attention to neglected subjects and duplicated effort,” the association writes in its position paper.

Earto points out that both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament have floated the idea of setting up this kind of advisory body for health research. The paper argues that such councils would be necessary in other areas, too. They should include not only representatives from scientific research, but also technology users and people from politics and business.

More generally, Earto warns that the development of better governance issues remain largely ignored in discussions about Horizon 2020. “The launch of Horizon 2020 is little more than a year away: these [governance] structures should be in place and operational already,” the paper says.