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‘Next EU R&D programme should have longer-term outlook’

Life sciences research centres join others in calling for ringfenced €200 billion budget

The EU’s next research and innovation programme should focus on strategies that bring impact in the long term, life sciences institutions across the continent have said.

With the European Commission starting to develop a successor to the EU’s current R&I programme, Horizon Europe, many in the research community have been setting out their views on what it should include. Currently known only as Framework Programme 10, the next programme will start in 2028.

EU-Life, an alliance of leading life sciences centres, said in a position paper it published on 11 January that its “first and foremost” principle for FP10 is that it should aim for longer-term and more impactful outcomes.

The group said FP10 must help bring about new solutions to current and future challenges by supporting work “on cutting-edge knowledge [rather than] the simple implementation of already existing solutions, as is too often the case currently in Horizon Europe”.

Bigger, ringfenced budget

EU Life added that it is “essential” to have a budget that fits the scope of the challenges the programme will seek to address. It suggested €200 billion as a minimum, echoing the views of others in the R&I community. Also, like other sectoral organisations, the group urged that the budget be ringfenced to prevent it being siphoned off for other activities.

The group also called for the EU to allocate a higher percentage of the FP10 budget to the European Research Council. It said it was “undisputable that lack of funding for the ERC is currently locking up groundbreaking, disruptive research potential in Europe”, pointing to the low success rates of applications and the high number of high-quality proposals that are left without funding.

“This untapped potential is impairing the leading role of Europe in R&I,” it warned.

EU-Life said FP10 should avoid creating additional pillars to the three that Horizon Europe has, as this would introduce “unnecessary complexity”.

It added that the next programme should create “real opportunities” for collaborative research at the European level, as this is something that member states alone cannot do.