On 17 April 2019, the EU Parliament adopted the partial agreements resulting from inter-institutional negotiations on the two Horizon Europe proposals, the successor to Horizon 2020. Both partial agreements were adopted by a large majority of the Members of the European Parliament.
Among the six key areas of intervention, while there are many references to tangential topics such as high performance computing technologies and big data technologies, the most explicit reference is in the Health Cluster’s “Health Care Systems” section which includes the concept of “digital twins” to advance the digital transformation of health and care. It is to note the switch of positioning of digital twin with systems medicine.
Digital, Industry and Space Cluster
The cluster on digital, industry and space includes a specific section devoted to “Advanced Materials”, as the Horizon Europe Programme foresees that the EU must invest in research for novel materials. More importantly, among the issues that will be addressed, the Horizon Europe Programme plans to focus on “advanced materials enablers like characterisation (e.g. for quality assurance), modelling and simulation, piloting and upscaling”. This may well leave the door open to the material properties library, which has recently been mentioned as a necessary initiative by many members.
Other key elements introduced by Horizon Europe
In the partial agreement adopted, the Parliament has prioritised to involve Member States with poor performance in research and innovation to participate in the programme, in particular by reducing the existing remuneration gap between researchers across the EU and by increasing the budget dedicated to spreading excellence and strengthening the European Research Area (ERA).
Broader support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), including start-ups, with at least 70 % of the European Innovation Council budget to be dedicated to SMEs is also covered by the new agreement.
Five broad potential research focus areas were agreed:
Horizon Europe will also put more emphasis on social sciences, humanities and creative industries. The agreement also provides that at least 35% of Horizon Europe's budget will contribute to the climate objectives.
The text is partially agreed. The European Parliament sped up its work to reach this “partial agreement” to secure something concrete before the May 2019 elections so that the process would not need to restart. A partial agreement – essentially means agreed. For the first time, CM&S and Digital Twin concept is part of the core legislative text for the EU’s funding framework programme, which should lead to future calls specific to these topics over the next 7 years.
The inter-institutional negotiations have not yet focused on the agreement in terms of budget, international collaboration and synergies. The final amounts of the Horizon Europe Programme will depend on the agreement reached on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. Nevertheless, with this partial agreement, a signal has been sent to MFF negotiators, stressing the importance of research and innovation.
Horizon Europe is the Union’s flagship programme to support research and innovation (R&I) from concept to market uptake. It aims to complement national and regional funding, to strengthen science and technology, to foster industrial competitiveness, and to implement sustainable development goals in the EU.
Our industry partner, the Avicenna Alliance, has been active to promote computer modelling and simulation in Horizon Europe during the whole legislative process. Our common goal was to include CM&S language not just in the individual calls that appear on an annual basis, but also to integrate this language into the very core of Horizon Europe – into the legislation that spans the full 7 years of the programme.