Ignoring the painfully unimaginative title of this article and getting to substance, the planning for the successor to Horizon 2020 is to start soon. This is no small task and to see how the 9th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation might turn out, it is worth having a look at why Horizon 2020 was brought in to replace FP7.
By far the biggest criticism of FP7 was that the calls for proposals were simply too narrow and too many were excluded from being able to apply for the calls. Horizon 2020 came to the rescue here by significantly widening the scope of the calls but this brought with it a host of new problems – how to tell which call actually applied to you and if the Commission had a particular scientific field in mind became the new questions to answer. Participation in Horizon 2020 greatly increased, but the failure rate of applications skyrocketed.
Another major issue was the significant time and effort that had to go into an FP7 application, only for it to fail in the end – a major disincentive to engage. The introduction of a two-stage submission procedure largely dealt with this problem seemingly without any drawbacks.
So where does that leave us with a timeline for FP-9? A proposal is to be on the table by the end of 2017 or start of 2018. For a strategy that is supposed to start in 2020 this may seem a bit premature. Doing the quick policy math on that however – this will mean an open consultation or maybe a few of them in late 2016 and early 2017. About a year of debate in Parliament and Council brings us to 2018. Factor in the inevitable bloodbath between the European Council and the Parliament over the budget and we are looking at having a final text in 2019. Starting this early then does not seem like over-caution on the Commission’s part.
The VPH PAWG will be engaged on this through Avicenna with the aim of securing a heavy presence of in silico medicine in Horizon 2020 with the optimum outcome being a public private partnership on in silico medicine.